In honor of the first anniversary writing as The Girlfriend Mom, I'm re-posting my first entry as the G.M. I hope you enjoy, and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has read, commented, and supported me during this ride. L'Chaim!
My boyfriend’s twelve year old son asked me to put his hair in a ponytail last night. He thought it was hysterical that he looked like a girl, as he modeled it for the five friends he was talking to on ooVoo. For those not in the loop, it’s like Skype. For those not in that loop either, it’s video chatting.
I didn’t think anything of his request. I was just flattered that he saw me as someone who knew how to make a ponytail. My mother used to put my hair in a ponytail, and would pull it so tight, that I got headaches and an unnecessary facelift. Not so unnecessary now, I’ll tell ya.
I’m calling myself, The Girlfriend Mom. My boyfriend and I live together, we’re not married, and he has two kids. However, I do step-mommy things, I suppose, like his son’s laundry. Sidebar: Sometimes, when I’m folding his tiny pair of jeans, it feels weird, dare I say ‘unnatural’. I’m convinced that it has to do with what I associate being a ‘mom’ with (which sometimes I find unattractive) and laundry seems to be on the list.
I help him with his homework and I consistently nag him about the television volume. I swear, it’s like living with the deaf (or my grandparents) How can you NOT hear that?! Well, this just smells of ‘mom’ (girlfriend or step) doesn’t it? I feel myself getting uglier by the minute.
So I’m not just a girlfriend, who’s boyfriend has kids. There are expectations of me, some being easy and ‘natural’ to pull off, like making up his bed, pouring him ice tea when he’s parched, teaching him how to apply Orajel to a sore, or eating at Chili’s for a less than nutritious meal. Other times, the expectations feel as ‘unnatural’ to me, as doing fractions, or wearing make-up and like folding his tiny fruit of the loom tidy whitey’s.
I say ‘mom’ things, but I can’t be sure of my modus operandi. Sometimes it’s because I think I’m supposed to say them, but how the hell do I know what to say. Other times, I think it’s imbedded in my DNA. Can that be?
My boyfriend’s son got a laptop over the weekend and he took it into our bedroom, which is one and a half flights up from where we were in the kitchen. Oh, no you don’t. I watch Dateline and Primetime Live. I told him to get where we could see and hear what he was doing. It was a knee jerk reaction. I’ve watched enough Lifetime Movies to know what can happen if you’re not paying attention. My request sounded like it came right out of, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger.
I want my boyfriend to know (and I’m not sure if he truly does) what it’s like to go from not wanting children and not sure if I even like children, to bringing a 12 and 17 year old into my life. They’re his flesh and blood. He was there at the beginning. He’s watched them grow and journeyed with them. I’d imagine with each passing year, a parent adjusts to the plethora of changes, and then, eventually, if you’re lucky, you can’t imagine your life without them. Me? It felt like two minutes in the microwave and BEEP, instant kids. Ready! (no) Set! (no) Go! (no, wait!)
I used to hear stories about a great aunt of mine who was a lesbian. She used to be a dancer and she had been with her girlfriend since WWII. I think they invented Lesbianism. They traveled the world, had several homes, and they didn’t have children. Their life sounded exotic and it had a profound effect on me.
The effect in this case being the possibility of a fulfilling life without children... not the girl on girl part. Although... My point is, I got the message that I had choices, and it was okay not to want what others wanted. I’m not sure I can directly attribute my ambivalence towards kids to my Great Lesbian Aunt (that sounds like a superhero) but I know she had played a role.
I’m sure that my parents made a contribution, unbeknownst to them I’m sure. By the time my parents were 24 years old, they had two kids under the age of 2. My mother wanted to have children, at least that’s what she tells me, but she wasn’t your typical mother either. Personally, I think she was in way over her head. Kids raising kids people! She rarely made breakfast and by the time I was twelve, I was babysitting, taking the train into the city alone and doing my own laundry. (What is it with the laundry?)
I can spend another lifetime researching and analyzing why I feel the way I do, but I don’t have that kind of time, and I’m not sure that it matters. What matters to me now is being honest about my feelings and not judging them. They are what they are, and since feelings change from one moment to the next, I think it’s unwise to give them too much power.
Instead, I’ve decided to forge a relationship with my boyfriend’s kids, based on who I am now, and who they are, as individuals, with all of our unique personalities. We’re not going to be defined by should’s, supposed to’s or societal constraints. And I have to say, so far, so good.
“Sweet baby Jesus, can you PLEASE turn that television down?!”