...or When Your Children Have Two Mommies.
Today, as we speak, Astrid and I are in Atlanta with my kids for a week-plus, celebrating birthdays, carving pumpkins, taking my grandson to the fair, and enjoying autumn in the North Georgia mountains.
Astrid is now the 3rd live-in 'parent' they've met, not counting their father. Actually, the 4th parent, if you count G. When Bill and I divorced in 1990, I thought I would be with G the rest of my life. Seriously. But her own divorce decree forbade her kids to ever see me if she wanted to retain joint custody. That meant we could never live together. Two years later she left me for another woman who was not part of the decree.
Within a month I rebounded and started a 5-year relationship with J. As they say, hindsight is better than foresight, but the short version is we were from 2 entirely different zipcodes! I truly believe everybody who knew me, including my kids, was glad when I left her because they didn't see us as a good fit. However, it was still very hard on my fragile children who were finally getting used to the break-up of their original family while learning to accept their mom in a gay relationship.
When I left J for D (are you confused yet?) and started what was to become a 12-year partnership, I wanted to believe my kids would never have to go through another break-up. Notice that I said my kids. How very telling! Everyone loved D and truly believed we were a match made in heaven. Because of her I had a dream life of exotic travel all over the world...and enough financial security for 3 lifetimes. But in the words of my favorite U2 song, I still hadn't found want I was looking for. We, too, were from 2 different zipcodes.
How do you explain any of this to your kids? And do you stay in your 'bad marriage' to keep them from bleeding yet again? A friend years ago had said, "When you do what is right for yourself, it will be right for everyone else concerned." So it was with fear and trembling that I left D and a year later moved to The Netherlands to become legally married to Astrid, the love of my life.
I have known Astrid for over 3 years now but this is the first time my kids have met her...because they weren't ready. Can I guarantee to them I will never go through another break-up? No. Can I protect them? No. I want them to see how she is different from the others. I want them to experience our love and happiness. But it takes Time and has to find its own course. It's part of the quiet pain in being their mother, still learning how to be a parent.
Why am I giving you Way Too Much Information?! There are gay people all around us whether we know it or not, many living with a lot of pain. My personal theory is our maturation process is much longer and more complicated than that of 'normal' straight people...because of the proverbial Closet and because we haven't learned to accept ourselves yet. How then can you? Or our kids?
Not to make this a band wagon (before midterm elections?), but maybe you can be part of the process that breaks down these barriers? Maybe you can vote for Astrid to one day be free to move with me to Atlanta as my legal wife so that my kids can get to know her better? Maybe?!