Characters who have not yet appeared in this blog include our family members. Whether luckily or unluckily, neither Partner (henceforth known as Sea) nor I are from the city where we live. As a result we have no more than a smattering of cousins within driving distance of our home. They’re people who you can call if you’re in a bind, but who you’re not likely to call just to say hello and share some feelings. While our parents and siblings are at a geographical distance, I suspect they’ll manage to make their presence known during this adventure in baby-making. The first to make a blog appearance is my mother, written about from Sea’s perspective.
My mother is a very smart, very strong woman who loves me fiercely. She’s also a woman with a lot of feelings and opinions about everything I do (especially Sea). When I came out to her at eighteen, her only concern was whether grandchildren would still be forthcoming. Her attachment both to me and to hypothetical grandchildren is amazing and something to be grateful for, and also one of the primary reasons why we haven’t told her much about what we’re doing. We need some boundaries/control, and I honestly suspect she would call three times a day and/or move into my basement if she knew what we were up to.
With that introduction, here are Sea’s thoughts on her last visit.
Partner’s Post: Freud’s Field Day
As PartnerA’s family brings up the topic of children more and more often, PartnerA has planted the seed in their heads that baby-making might maybe perhaps be initiated in the generally foreseeable future. (No timelines or details, of course.) PartnerA’s mother’s initial response to this disclosure several months ago was elation at the prospect of PartnerA conceiving, having, and raising her child. Followed shortly thereafter by blatant horror upon learning that, shock, I (partner of more than ten years) might maybe perhaps in some way be involved. (Imagine that.)
Although she has absolutely no idea that we’ve begun the process, throughout her last weekend visit to our house, PartnerA’s mother was positively fixated on PartnerA’s potential impending pregnancy. Primarily, PartnerA’s mother is bound and determined to (yet again) butt her way between PartnerA and me in this and all matters typically considered personal between two adults involved in a long-term partnership. Throughout her visit, whenever there was mention that I might maybe perhaps in some way be involved in conceiving, having, and raising PartnerA’s and my child, PartnerA’s mother’s responses were accompanied by a tone of thinly veiled disgust. And truth be told, sometimes blatant disgust, too.
Sure, for the entire decade and then some that PartnerA and I have been together, PartnerA’s mother has taken every visit with us as an opportunity to offer some choice comments about me. But arguing that PartnerA should remove me from the family equation? That’s a bit much. It’s not homophobia. Oh no. PartnerA’s mother is perhaps the least homophobic person in her age range that I’ve ever met. What is it, then? PartnerA’s mother vehemently dislikes me. She’s told PartnerA so in as many words many times over the years.
I try not to take it too personally because by multiple accounts, PartnerA’s mother is jealous of my relationship with her daughter and likely would be jealous of her daughter’s relationship with anyone. Case in point: Many years ago, before PartnerA and I lived together, PartnerA gave me keys to her apartment. Upon learning of this development in our relationship, PartnerA’s mother approached me and told me that the apartment keys were, in fact, not mine at all.
“What?” I questioned at the time, utterly confused.
“They’re our shared keys,” PartnerA’s mother announced in response, instructing me to leave PartnerA’s apartment keys in a communal area (on the kitchen table, was suggested) when not in use to allow her equal access to them. This is how PartnerA’s mother’s head seems to work: What’s hers is hers and what’s mine is hers. Disturbingly, exceptions are apparently not made for romantic adult relationships.
PartnerA’s mother seems to find it appropriate to insert herself into PartnerA’s and my relationship at every opportunity. From criticizing our home decor choices (and then hauling in framed prints that she prefers while telling us where to hang them); to claiming that we clean our shower incorrectly (and then purchasing a bottle of the “right” cleaning product and sneakily putting it with a sponge on prominent display in our bathroom — hint hint); to making passive aggressive comments about how we’ve chosen to divide our household chores (we should divide responsibilities differently because obviously, Mother Knows Best); to telling us outright how to prioritize major purchases for our home and arguing when I politely disagree (kitchen appliances are number one, she says, over things like fixing the roof and replacing old, drafty windows). PartnerA’s mother has also criticized every meal I’ve ever cooked for her (from squash having too many carbs; to peppers being gross; to arguing that I purchase raspberries instead of my preferred strawberries because she likes raspberries better and what she likes is what everyone must like; to yogurt being gross too; to insisting one evening at my kitchen table while eating my tofu stir-fry that soy is bad and I need to stop cooking with it). So on and so forth. Early in our relationship, PartnerA’s mother once asked PartnerA if she and I “hold hands sometimes” (in the context, it was an awkward way of inquiring about our sex life) because PartnerA’s mother seems to find absolutely nothing wrong with requesting such information about one’s adult child. During more recent conversations, PartnerA’s mother has told us that romantic relationships never last and that it’s only a matter of time before PartnerA and I stop sharing a bed.
So, in context, do you understand why I sincerely fear for my rights as a parent to a child that’s biologically related to PartnerA (and therefore also biologically related to PartnerA’s mother) and not biologically related to me? There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that PartnerA’s mother will tell our child that she (PartnerA’s mother) is more its parent than me (PartnerA’s partner) because she is biologically related to it and I am not. It’s like the apartment keys all over again, but with a baby! (“It’s not your baby. It’s our shared baby!” I imagine PartnerA’s mother announcing upon first meeting of the kid, and full well meaning it too.)
That being said, throughout her last visit to our house, the ever-amazing PartnerA — offended by her mother’s outright rejection of my intended presence in PartnerA’s baby’s life — took the opportunity to push the boundaries and test mother’s comfort levels. PartnerA did this primarily by telling her mother over and over again that the plan was to use my eggs and PartnerA’s uterus to conceive of the aforementioned fetus. (While this isn’t true, it’s okay to tell little white lies for the purpose of proving a point, is it not?)
The result? Hilarious and horrifying.
[Scene: PartnerA and PartnerA’s mother on the bus.]
Mother: So if you were having children, how would you do it?
PartnerA: Well, Partner doesn’t want to be pregnant, but we’re looking at using her eggs.
Mother: Well, that’s a very difficult route to take. I have friends who did it, of course, but it’s a very difficult path to choose.
PartnerA: We know a couple who’s done it too and they’re very happy with the decision. It’s an option we’ve researched and we’re considering.
[Scene: PartnerA, Sea, two of our friends, and PartnerA’s mother eating lunch.]
Friend: My sister’s fiance plans to take my sister’s last name! I never liked my last name, but my sister’s fiance does I guess! But it’s so long, and no one can spell it!
Sea: It’s like my last name! It’s impossible to spell too!
PartnerA: When we have kids, we’ll probably use Sea’s last name as the last name for our kids.
Mother: [Whips head around, stares at me, and is silent for the first time possibly ever.]
[Scene: PartnerA and Partner A’s mother at our house after Sea has left for work.]
(PartnerA, Later: “That our children might be genetically related to you was all that she would talk about! She wouldn’t talk about anything else!”)
Mother: Well, sweetie, before making that decision you must seriously consider it.
PartnerA: We have.
Mother: But, darling, you must look into both medical histories. One must consider one’s genetic histories as well when making such decisions.
PartnerA: Well, my genetic history isn’t exactly stellar! Besides, straight people don’t look at the genetic potential of the person they’re with. If Sea was a man, we wouldn’t be looking at her genetic potential before deciding if she should be related to our children!
Mother: It’s just a very big decision. You should really talk to other people about it first. IVF is a very difficult process.
PartnerA: I know. We’ve researched. And we know people who’ve done it.
Mother: I’m just saying that one must seriously think through one’s options prior to making one’s decision about such matters…
Etc. Etc. Etc.
I just love that PartnerA’s mother feels that it’s her place to be third wheel in PartnerA’s and my decisions about our lives. Like she’s extended her ongoing nitpicking to our potential parenthood as though it’s her right to make decisions about the who, when, and how of our fertility-to-family journey! As if.
The possibility that I might be biologically related to PartnerA’s and my children “really upsets my mother. When it comes up, you can see her getting very very uncomfortable!” (Quote, PartnerA)
So it’s decided — DonorMan will share aesthetic characteristics with me (as much as possible) and no matter what the kid looks like, we’ll maintain the “maybe we used Sea’s eggs, maybe we used PartnerA’s eggs” scenario with PartnerA’s mother as long as possible. Possibly forever. Keep her guessing and maintain that inkling of doubt. Wouldn’t want her to get too comfortable thinking that she’s more entitled to PartnerA’s and my child than me. (And that is what she’s thinking, for the record.)
I’ll leave you with a story. About five years into PartnerA’s and my relationship, PartnerA was having a discussion with her mother about future family plans. PartnerA’s mother proceeded to gleefully announce that of course she (PartnerA’s mother) would accompany her (PartnerA) to fertility clinic appointments! Of course she (PartnerA’s mother) would be present with her (PartnerA) at the moment of conception!
Disturbed, PartnerA was forced to explain to her oblivious mother that typically, one does such things with one’s partner – not one’s mother.
Freudian field day? Indeed.