Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Baby Daddy

So all of us lesbians out there who have gotten pregnant by someone OTHER than a man we were in love with have to deal with this other person/number/vial and how it affects our children's lives. I think we are all smart enough to know that at some point, our children will come to us and say, "Okay so I know you have always said that I am lucky enough to have two mommies, but I just learned in science class that you can't so much make a baby without a man..." What do we do then? This is obviously different for every single couple and every single situation.

This is how it shaped up regarding my son and his "Dad." When we agreed to use Donor as a donor we talked at great length about how we would handle the future. Before The Boy was born we were all in agreement that the donor would be a part of our lives, much like all of our other close friends. But where The Boy was concerned, until he was old enough to really understand and grasp our situation, he would remain just that: a good friend. I remember specifically asking Donor how much he would like to be involved in his future child's life. His answer to me was, "You know how if you go to a park and your sitting on a park bench behind the playground watching the kids play? That is how I would like to be in your lives. You and Ex (that adds a whole other element to it, doesn't it?) will be the ones in the playground with him, raising him, but I will be sitting on the park bench behind you, watching him grow and play." Seemed like a decent answer to me at the time. So we went forward and decided that one day we would explain to him that "friend _____" is really the person who allowed us to have you as our son. We would explain to him that his Moms loved each other very much and had tried to have a baby for so long and that thanks to donor, we were able to bring him into the world and we are so thankful for that.

Well of course things changed once The Boy was actually here. As a baby, The Boy was the spitting image of his father. I often wondered if there was any of me in there (this has changed as he has gotten older). When Donor saw this little boy, his "viewing from afar" attitude changed and he all of a sudden thought that we were in a 3 person relationship and that he had just as much right to make decisions and parent this child as Ex and I had. Obviously this caused some tension. It is not my intention to get into all that has transpired between the 3 of us since The Boy has been here.

One of the original things we decided was that Donor would not be referred to as "Daddy" until much later, when our son was old enough to understand the dynamic of our relationship. As things were tense and battles lines were being drawn and people were digging their heels in the sand, this was something that Donor brought up. He felt like he should get to be known as Dad from the very beginning. He didn't see why that would be a problem. There wasn't another Dad in the picture so it was important for him to have that title. In all honesty, Donor really never saw The Boy and he was so young it was kind of a moot point. Over the years, he has started referring to himself as "Daddy" and I just kind of kept my mouth shut. Pick my battles I told myself. And again, he has seen The Boy MAYBE 5 times in the last year so it really isn't something that comes up too often.

The last time he visited he spoke to Ex after his visit and said that while the visit was lovely, he wondered if I could please start referring to him as Daddy instead of his name when it came to The Boy. Ex came to me and asked me to do this going forward. I told her the truth, "I honestly don't know if I can do that." She explained that since we see him so infrequently, it would just be easier to mutter that word in his presence and then go back to doing what we were doing when he wasn't around. I didn't agree to start calling him that, but I also didn't say I refused. So how I have handled it is that I simply don't refer to him when he's here. I used to say to The Boy, "Go show _______ your new toy..." (and I would use his name, not Daddy). Now I just don't say that. I say, "Why don't you go get your new toy to show off?"

When Ex and I split up, this became even more of an issue for me. Our son is still very young and since he is part of a lesbian family, he is learning that his family is different. However, in mainstream life (school/daycare, friends, other families) he hears a lot about this "Mommy and Daddy" thing. He is cool with the Mommy part, but the other part... See here's the thing. I am very protective of our family unit (even if it is split up) and for The Boy to constantly hear about Mommy and Daddy, I just don't want him to be confused. If he knows Donor as "Daddy," then when he hears these things he will assume that Donor has a bigger place in his life than he does. He will assume he is a parental unit when, in fact, he is not. And where does that leave Ex? And her place in his family? Ex is a great Mom to our son and to belittle her as his parent and let Donor take some of that shine, just makes me sick to my stomach.

So Ex is traveling right now for work and she sent me a text yesterday that said she got a message from Donor and that we need to call him back because he wants to say hi and talk to The Boy. Obviously since The Boy is with me, I have to be the one to make that call. And I didn't call him last night. I thought a lot about why I didn't call and it comes down to one thing. I know he will want me to put The Boy on the phone and them prompt him to say "Hi to Daddy." I just don't know if I can do that. I don't know why I have such strong feelings about this, but I do. I will call him tonight and check in and I will let him talk to The Boy, but I just don't know if I can make myself prompt him to "say hi to Daddy..."

How do you guys out there handle this? Am I making too big a deal out of it, or should I hold onto my convictions and continue to protect the family unit that we have with Mom, Mommy and The Boy? Help!

No comments: