Changes

When I decided to become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC), I had to deal with society’s notions of the perfect family, and the fact that I was choosing to have a child in a way that was not ‘ideal’ or ‘normal’ by today’s standards.  I had to grieve that I did not have the white picket fence and the husband rubbing my belly while it grew with our child inside, a child we got to make the fun way.  I got mad and sad that this ideal was not for me and that I had to do it differently because somehow I was not good enough for the norm.

I was in a documentary years ago which followed women like myself who chose to have kids on their own.  I have watched that movie so many times, and each time there is something else that stands out. This time I realized that along with the grief over the lack of Mr. Right or the white picket fence, I had to really believe that I could raise a child alone and that my child did not need a father.  I believed that. I said it so emphatically in the documentary.  Of course I knew that Aidan would have my father and his wonderful uncles, as well as my male friends, and thought these would be the only male role models he would need. When people asked about the whole “male role model” issue, this is what I would mention, for this is what I truly believed.

Years later, after moving in with Kevin and negotiating a family life together, the reality of the difference in my relationship with Aidan compared to the one he has with Kevin is so obvious and strong. I cannot deny it. I am a bit overwhelmed with the obvious necessity of the need for male role models that everyone tried to warn me about and I did not believe. For some reason this is the part that has been difficult for me lately.  I see the connection, the male to male connection, the dominance, and the respect between Aidan and Kevin. I see that he does not question Kevin, and Aidan listens when Kevin says something like you’re supposed to do with your father.  But God! – does Aidan question me, his mother. He can be disrespectful to me.  He fights me verbally.  He argues with me.  He does not take no for an answer.  When I mention this to other mothers with young children, they laugh and say it is the same with their children.  They say that children always act out with their mothers but not for their fathers, as if this is a fact of life.  It is becoming a fact for me too, I guess.

As we negotiate the day to day life that Kevin and I are creating, I have these moments where Aidan’s behavior pushes me to a point when I feel like I should be doing better and it is so much more obvious now that he reserves such behavior just for me.  Combine this with the stress of holidays and work, and I just felt so overwhelmed and full of angst the past month.  I guess I understand it better now. I guess this is what a family with children deals with.  A family.  I had my own family this Christmas, which was overwhelming but so amazing too, especially for this former SMC.

3 thoughts on “Changes”

  1. Here’s one reason why Mums and Dads get different levels of push back: they do different types of parenting. Mum is usually the one who makes the non-negotiable demands and thus gets the defiance. But as Andrea says, if men are regularly involved in more of the non-negotiable demanding (ie, picking kids up from daycare), they will experience the same level of challenge.

    Here’s a great article about it: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304757004579335053525792432?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304757004579335053525792432.html

  2. So interesting, and congratulations on navigating these changes with your son. On the anecdote about children never acting up with their fathers, I wonder if this is a dynamic when mothers are more hands-on and dads are more secondary. Because watching fathers and children at the preschool pickup or the swimming lesson, I can assure you these kids are challenging their fathers just as much as mine have ever challenged me! I wonder if these are hands-on fathers and thus they get as much pushback as hands-on mothers do? Children have less respect, so to speak, for the parent they deal with on everyday matters, and more respect for the ones who remain slightly less familiar.

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