Right here, right now:
- I provide a beautiful home for my children that is also a stable environment
- I have the means to pay for doctor’s bill and prescriptions for Jeremy
- My bills are paid (mostly)
- I live in a wonderful city where I can drive past water and see the swans
Some days you need to remind yourself about the little things that mean you are travelling ok.
This last weekend has been a family one; a trip to the markets, Saturday night dinner making Jeremy’s dinner of choice, a trip to Footscray for brunch then onto Bunnings on Sunday, lots of time spent together. In the car during conversations about upcoming celebrations, my 45th birthday & Jeremy’s 18th, my beloved and I were joking how we would get married when we are 50 and I invited Jeremy along for the festivities. “Well thank you for inviting me to your wedding”. “Of course kitten” I replied, “I hope you will give me away”. We shared a smirk, my youngest son and I.
Because here is the deal – this blog is about parenting and my child happens to be transgender, which adds a touch of the complex on occasion to general parenting. This child has another parent, one who apparently got married this year. I have spoken about his engagement, but only recently found out about the wedding. There has been a touch of furor about the wedding that had no family invited.
So what is the big deal? This person has recently reached out to Jeremy and stated that he wants to “father” Jeremy. He has the right to ask, 50% of the genetic material of this child has come from him. Parents should not be martyrs, they need down time and their own bars of chocolate that are sacred. They share sandwiches, kisses, beds, the contents of wallets, opinions and what is for dinner. Parents lives are intertwined with their children’s. There are times when you are challenged by your child and times when your actions challenge your child, anyone who has tried to put an over tired three year old to bed will agree with this. Even when your child does not live with you there is still a level of consultation and inclusion appropriate to their age.
Most parents aren’t faced with the task of discussing marriage with a child, but a surprising number do like the joking conversation that was had with Jeremy. Jeremy trusts that when I remarry and / or re-partner I will seek his support because he is my family and if my partner is someone he isn’t comfortable with then that is too high a price for me to pay. Because I am in this for the long haul, I am trusting Jeremy to pick my retirement home.
So there is a reasonable expectation when you are fifteen or sixteen that a parent will have a chat with you about a life changing event that impacts on them, raising topics in weekly phone calls, using that time to explore any areas of conflict prior to the precious few days that you get to spend together. When that doesn’t happen when you are on the cusp of “adulthood”, whatever the reason, there is a lot of work to be done to build a bridge back to open communication.
I stumbled onto the other niggling point of this issue by accident when reading the other day. I have been re-reading “Committed” by Liz Gilbert, a book where she explores the topic of marriage. In the last chapter she says; “Marriage is not an act of private prayer. Instead it is both a public and private concern, with real world consequences. While the intimate terms of our relationship would always belong solely to Felipe and me, it was important to remember that a small share of our marriage would always belong to our families as well – to all those people who would be most seriously affected by our success or our failure”. There are many reasons to privately celebrate the union between two people, regardless of religion, race or gender. But no man is an island and so logically no two people are an island, fully self sufficient. This becomes even more so for couples who are marrying for a second time with children involved, the event itself becomes more like an international negotiation with demarcation lines, neutral zones and plans of attack. In this instance it seems that the couple in question have shut out those on whom they will rely most for support in the future, parents, families and a child. Appearances can be deceiving though, I can only speak as an outsider looking on from afar.
So it has been a tumultuous few weeks for Jeremy in the fathering arena during a year when he asked for space. I am proud of how he has managed communication to date and I will stand by him as he reaches back, I won’t let his hand go until he’s ready.