Posted by: thiscait | March 29, 2009

Little Things

I just finally bought a baby book for Teddy.  We’ve only done a mediocre job of filling Natalie’s out, but it seemed only fair to try to do one for him too.  I don’t ever want him to feel like he’s less loved because he’s the second child, or the only male in the family, or any other reason that he might come up with.  And I know that even careful planning won’t necessarily change what he feels about himself or his family as he grows up, but still.  What little I can control, I will.  So.  For Natalie we used the Todd Parr one.  It’s colorful, funny, simple, and most importantly for us, it doesn’t assume that the child has both a mom and a dad.  It’s also out of print.  And now sold for a small fortune (OK, 60 bucks or so, but for a fairly simple book, and a very broke family, that’s a lot.)  There are a few options if you don’t want to go through the entire book crossing out and correcting references to mom and dad, but certainly not the vast assortment of styles and price ranges available to the “standard” family.  For the most part, if you’re gay, single, or otherwise don’t fit the mold, and you want your baby book to fit you, you pays extra.  It’s a little thing.  There are ways around it, and certainly not every baby even has a baby book.  It’s not THAT big a deal.  But still.  Sometimes little things make a difference.  And today I found a copy of the Todd Parr baby book, new, for a little more than $10 including shipping.  It makes me happy that when Natalie pulls her book off the shelf to look through it (as she often does), Teddy will have one as well.  And that both books will fit their family without taking white out or a sharpie to them.

I’m in a place right now, emotionally, where little things DO affect me differently.  Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation.  Or the fact that I have less adult conversation these days, so I’m more likely to analyze the hell out of it.  And this weekend, it’s a little thing from a friend’s baby shower that has my brain turning.

My friend T is expecting her second child in a few weeks.  We have worked together for years, and she has a child only a few months older than Natalie, so we have shared a lot of motherhood stuff since they were born.  Yesterday, some friends had a shower for her.  As part of it, our friend R led an activity that we did for T before her first child was born, and that we in turn did for R before she gave birth to her daughter.  Each person chooses a bead, holds it, writes some wish for the mother-to-be regarding labor, birth, early days with new child, etc.  Then each person shares her thought as the bead is added to a necklace that travels with the mother-to-be and reminds her of our love and wishes during labor, birth, whatever.  As we were beginning to write, a friend that hadn’t been there for the previous rounds of this activity asked if it needed to focus specifically on labor/birth, because since she’d had an emergency c-section she didn’t feel like she had anything useful to say about that.  R responded that, no, it didn’t have to be specific to the birth at all, that we’d be doing this, “even if T was adopting or having a child in some other way.”

I froze for a second before the cynical voice in my head took over.  Then that voice was shoved aside and insecurity/self doubt began making itself at home.  Because they didn’t do this for me.  Even though R&T have known each other only a year longer than I’ve known the two of them.  Even though my children were born during the same period of time as their children, and they were part of celebrations before Natalie’s birth.  (There were none for Teddy– a fact that I’d attributed to his being born right after summer vacation.)  And really, I don’t care that it wasn’t done for me.  And there are any number of reasons why it wasn’t.  But I keep coming back to R’s one sentence and wondering where that leaves me.  And, while I’ve always been somewhat painfully uncool, I think the answer really is that, once again, I don’t fit the mold.  While my motherhood has never been questioned by this group of friends, I am still the non-bio mom.  And as such, I will never really fit with people who grew their babies inside their bodies.  But I’m not a dad.  And though I adopted Natalie and will (barring catastrophe) adopt Teddy, I don’t necessarily fit with adoptive parents either.  And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, because I AM their Mama.  It’s just one of those little things…

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Responses

  1. Oh, Cait! This post just breaks my heart and has me wiping away tears.

  2. I’m so sorry. I would have had exactly the same reaction. You aren’t making it up.

    At the simple shower my parents threw us before our first our first (Natalie’s age, my wife was pregnant), my own father, who was beyond thrilled to have a grandbaby on the way, suggested that I be the one to hand presents to my wife. I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to hide the look of horror on my face, and said that no, we’d be opening them together. He recovered quickly, and things moved on, but I’ll always remember it…and I’ve never ever discussed it with him.

    I’m pretty sure almost every non-bio-mom out there has had moments like this, no matter how secure she is in her family and her parenthood.

  3. That’s rough. Really rough. For me, the roughest part of reading it was that it was said with such sincerity, as if it did not possibly even enter her mind for a second. Ouch. Super double ouch. I’m really sorry.

    We were fortunate in that Jen was really a part of our showers, but it was amazing how people can exclude a non-bio mom out in the street. I remember being pregnant and someone saying something like, “I didn’t know you were going to be a mom!” and there was Jen, who was ALSO going to be a mom.

  4. Oh, I would be having the same thoughts, too. The same damn ones. It’s true, for many people we’re just not the same. And while on one hand it doesn’t matter, on the other it does, it really does. Because until this attitude changes, we’re always going to have to be proving ourselves and our motherhoods to society. And that’s just too hard to do on top of the everyday parenting stuff.

  5. I paid about 40 bucks for that book on Amazon, for all of the same reasons.

    And we never got a shower for either of our children. It stings, but the sting is forgotten after a while. And it’s hard to share about it, because you don’t want to seem selfish. But it still stings a bit…

  6. Long time lurker (out of laziness . . . ) delurking to say ugh. Little things are not little. They are almost worse than big things b/c a big thing would have been obvious to others at the shower.

    A few years I observed the complete opposite and was a little flabbergasted. A lesbian couple I knew was adopting internationally. Of course, only one of them could be the legal, adopting mother. The other threw her a surprise shower and really stepped back from the whole mother role during the adoption. She’s not butch and she really wanted children. It made me uncomfortable to see their shower unfold with only one mother opening presents and standing in the limelight.

  7. Oh, I hear you. I hear all the little things, too.

  8. Oh, that’s lame. I wish people could be sensitive enough to realize how their actions or inactions can affect others. They absolutely should have done that for you as well.

  9. A friend of mine created a baby book to fit any family!! Here is the link. I know your kids already have theirs, but if you ever need a baby gift, etc. These are really great, affordable books!

    http://familymyway.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=15&Itemid=29

    End my baby book pimping!


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