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.