The Man

My therapist asked me how I see my role in Cricket’s life in the future, and then she asked me where that role comes from: is it my ideal, is it what I think I deserve, has someone else suggested it to me? I told her that I see myself as trying to be available for whatever he wants and intending to take an interest in whatever he likes (this has been the subject of a couple of intense conversations between myself and Mr. Book; I tell him that if our futurekid ends up liking golf, or country music, or whatever, we have to become fans of whatever it is. This was sort of born when I visited Ruth and Nora while still pregnant and met their friends’ kid; he is a rabid baseball fan in a community of people who could care less about sports. I happen to be a baseball fan myself, and he seemed so desperately grateful to talk to someone who knew who Hideki was that I thought, If he was my kid, I’d learn to love baseball. So now I feel like I’ve pledged to love NASCAR, or reggae (I keep trying to list things that I genuinely hate), or whatever Cricket and my future kid/s love, because I believe that it’s important. Not that I’m not hoping against hope that NASCAR isn’t a passion of theirs, of course. As for where it comes from—well, I told her that it’s what Ruth seems prepared to accept. I see myself as sort of a distant family friend with possibly interesting information—that’s what I think Ruth wants. I asked Mr. Book the same question, and he said that he doesn’t see himself as having any role in Cricket’s life. “But you are the only dad!” I respond. I very well might attach too much importance to that fact, but it’s true; we had a boy, and my husband is his only dad. It seems likely to me that that will be important when Cricket is a teenager.

Other than that, I spent most of my fifty-minute hour explaining to her that Ruth runs the relationship and seems to need that; weirdly/amusingly, she assumed that this meant that Ruth is “the man” in her relationship, which (setting aside the idea that that’s kind of a stupid template to use, since a lesbian relationship really doesn’t require anyone to be “the man,” that’s sort of the point as I understand it) isn’t the way she would see it if she met them—she asked which of them stays home with Cricket, and it’s Ruth. She was surprised. Perhaps I should have added that Ruth is also the one with long hair who does the cooking. I’m not sure that traditional gender roles are helpful, and sometimes I wish they were less present in my head. When I was in California for the wedding, I ended up talking to a friend (I like her a lot, so she probably needs a blog name. How about Renata—I’ve always liked that name) about my ambivalence around making traditional choices. I end up feeling some guilt about my own choices, but I guess I like to think that that keeps me honest, and makes me less likely to make assumptions about other people’s relationships (e.g., “So do you stay home with your children? Your husband does? Really, never would have expected that. Do you at least do the cooking?”). Or maybe I’m rationalizing my need to keep the guilt alive.

Amanda, I think you’re right—it does in some ways feel like a next step to go on this (what sounds like a terrible) island visit; Mr. Book is already really excited about the idea, so I’m trying to frame it in my head as a leap of faith. I am going to trust that nothing terrible will happen and that, while I can’t run away, I won’t need to; at least that is the goal.

13 thoughts on “The Man

  1. Okay, the thing that jumped out at me in your therapists assumption that Ruth was “the man” in the relationship (which I agree is ridiculous) is that in adoptionland it seems that it’s (almost) always the woman that “runs” the relationships.

    By in large it seems like it’s the women that blog, that are on forums, AND that are the primary communicators in the relationship with first parents – be they the first Mother OR Father.

    It made me wonder (and I don’t mean this as a critique at all!) if your therapist is very experienced in dealing with adoption – again, not questioning her qualifications or anything, it was just a curiousity. And if she IS experienced in adoption, if my belief that the woman often runs things is just bunk. Hmm…

    • She works almost exclusively in adoption–that said, I don’t think she works with many open adoptions. I think she’s mostly working with adult adoptees and grieving birthparents, many from the BSE.

  2. Recognize that this is coming from the position of being what’s the main topic of conversation between my partner and me (about her stupid and evil boss, whom I don’t feel comfortable talking about on my blog just in case!) but if you’re going to end up doing the island visit, are there ways you can make Ruth’s control issues work in your favor? I mean, if you say to her, “I’m kind of nervous about that and I’m probably going to need some time to myself to process/write/think” would she then go into control mode and set aside three hours for you every afternoon? Because that could work! Does that even make sense or seem applicable? That seems like the way I’d approach it, make her feel like she’s setting your healthy boundaries for you while also meeting her need to meddle and micromanage. But then I’m a horrible manipulative person, so….

    • Oooh, I’m with M–I like this. I don’t think it’s necessarily manipulative; I’m playing to her strengths! If I was visiting my sister, I’d probably ask her to make a schedule, and I would do the cooking; we do what we’re best at.

  3. Do you think it (chosing a man figure for the union)is that “family outline” that therapists use to explain family dynamics?

  4. Well shucks, I wish I could find my therapist after all these years, that used it!!
    She used two things. One was a timeline of my life and the other was this family outline similar to a family tree to show me the parallels (sp?) of my life’s relationships.
    So later (during therapy) she was showing me how my current crippling fears of my mother in law and her sister, were from that early experience of not getting “between” sisters.
    Darn her, she was right too. I hated that therapist-lol

    • That’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s what she had in mind; I think she was just trying to get a picture for herself of how their relationship works. That said, I may have jumped to quickly to reading her as assuming the “Who is the man?” thing because I’ve been asked that by other people, including my parents. Answering is slightly complicated: on the one hand, there’s the spiel I went into here and totally believe; on the other hand, I know what the answer they want is, and it’s Nora (breadwinner, short hair, likes soccer).

  5. oh darn it left out half my post- my mom’s twin sister had abuse me as a child and threatened me to keep quiet and never come between them.

  6. Like TGMom, my experience is that the women drive the relationships and family structures in adoption world, just as they do outside of it, only more so.

    re: liking what your children like, yes. I never thought I would spend weekends watching musicals or weeknights watching sports practice. I assumed my kids would be bookworms like me. And two of them are… but they are bookworms who like to perform in musicals and compete in team sports. Who knew?

  7. I agree I think it is the women who often sort of “run” things family-wise, adoption or not. funny how antiquated your therapist sounds with the gender roles. I also like thorn’s idea about the island getaway. I was thinking you should just make time for yourself at some point every day so you don’t feel so confined. — e.g., every afternoon you and mr. book could go for a walk and explore, or do whatever you want just for some down time. I hope he also recognizes what an important role he could have in cricket’s life later, as you said. he is ‘the man,’ after all, right?

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