WARNING: Complaining ahead. Don’t go there if you need me to be rosy and grateful.
Being the other mother thus far, is unfun, to say the least. Maybe I’m the only asshole who feels this way.
It seems that even the lesbian books who discuss the sucky parts challenges of being the “other mother” just seem to be having a different experience than me. Maybe it is just my personality, or the fact that I was a birth mom so recently. I don’t know. But it ain’t easy, I tell you that. It isn’t “challenging”. It sucks.
And I’m feeling pretty alone in this. No one in our lives, IRL, has experienced motherhood from this perspective. I have no strengths in this area (being easy going, trusting, selflessly caretaking – like my dear S). But I can’t even compare myself, really, to how she handled being the other mother because it was so different the first time around. And she’s a different person. Plus, when S was in this role she could fall back on being related to Smarty, because she was. Every way Smarty looked, everything he did, every attriblute, could have been from her gene pool (S’s brother was our donor).
Yet, S was so good in this role and that makes me feel like even more of a failure.
All the stuff I read about on this topic it discusses fairness issues, which just don’t work for me.
Chicory and I had an interesting discussion about this recently, when she was at my house. About the need lesbains have for equanimity, fairness, equality. How this isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it simply doesn’t work int he parenthood realm. For instance, when S and I get into the fairness game about babies, we both loose. We get lost in youstayedhomefor3yearsIonlyget3months or youworkedfromhomefor1yearwhileIonlyget3weeks.
Not fair, on either front. Same with the breastfeeding. I feel this pressure from to ‘let S have her turn‘. Her turn with the birth, with the breastfeeding, with the decisions of early infancy. Because I had my turn with Smarty. The problem with this is that we are in a totally different situation now. There is no fair. There is no turn. Or maybe there is, and I am just a giant selfish bitch.
I just don’t know how to DO this. Be the other mother. Be not desperately needed by the baby. Not tied down. No relentless infant demanding my boobs. No constant skin to skin with that soft creature. I feel like I could disappear and she wouldn’t notice. Which, at this point, is true.
For me, when there were motherhood doubts, as the birth mother, there was this primal reassurance, yes, yes, this is my baby, I gave birth to this baby, this baby needs me, this baby needs my milk, I can’t run away (ever) from this baby because I am his mother. This time I have no reasurrance, internally. I have the opposite. I feel, starkly, the contrast. How unneeded I am. How little time I actually spend with her. How much she doesn’t look like me.
This role is WAY harder than even my pessimistic nature anticipated. Like WAY.
Also, we are both the moms, and I wish people in our lives would stop referring to her as the ‘new mama’. She has been a mama for 3 1/2 years. I suppose they mean she just gave birth. That is ‘new’. I don’t know. It just seems that our friends and family, even the sensitive lovely ones, often say things that sting…that highlight the differences I am already painfully aware of and defensive about. Oh, and it doesn’t help that Littleo looks exacly like S. That is constantly commented upon, by everyone. Secretly, alone in our home, I am completely thrilled that she looks like my beautiful S, and surprised and grateful that she does not look like our donor. Yet, I wish that people were a little more thoughtful about saying that so often. It hurts my feelings, as a constant reminder that she looks NOTHING like me and is not related to me in any way, and it hurts S’s feelings that it hurts my feelings. Good times.
I feel left out. Sad. Not needed. Unconnected. And, sadly, I’m going back to work next week. I am afraid that everyone thinks I am an ungrateful asshole for complaining about this at length, when we have this gorgeous little baby, but this blog has never been about all of my easy happy feelings, so why lie? Why pretend that this time with our perfect baby is blissful?
One of the hardest parts has been Littleo deciding she doesn’t want me to comfort nurse her. It is probably necause i don’t have milk yet, but I can’t help but feel incredibly rejected – like the lesser mom – rejected by my own kid. Unable to comfort our daughter the way I did for so many years with our son. Logically, I know that I will need to work hard to breastfeed, and that I cannot take the actions of a 23 day old baby, personally.
But this is not logical. This business of motherhood is primal.
The truth is I could spend more time with my daughter. I could pick her up and rock her more. I could try harder. I could. But with Smarty I didn’t have to work hard for his attention, or to soothe him. I had magical boobs that fixed everything.
I don’t know, maybe if I was a dad this would still be hard, but there would be no comparison to the other experience, and if there was (like for a trans dad) there would be a new role to fulfill, a clear place to exsist, with its very own holiday – coming in June. But I’m not the dad.
And please, friends, do not think that I am talking shit on this caretaking role, on being the one who didn’t give birth. I have nothing but respect for all the women who accept this role with grace, and embrace the beauty of it, the realness of it, the complicatedness, and fiercely love their babies. I only lament that I am unable, yet, to do the same.
I am too scared, in recent days, to reach out to Littleo, because it hurts. The distance between us is growing and I do know that I am her mother and I am the only one to bridge the distance, to work harder, to find my place, to be brave – to love her despite how much it hurts to do so, despite the differences, despite my own pain.
Right now that feels slightly impossible, and that is the ugly truth.