Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First Meeting

One of Raphaela's closer friends at Gan is also the result of the choice of her mother ("A"), to become a single mother via fertility procedures.  We happen to be friends, though as a rule I do not specifically seek out the friendships of other single parents.

A recently sent me an email, an invitation to a meeting of SMBCs from the Jerusalem area;  Raphaela and I attended that first encounter yesterday afternoon in the park, along with A and her daughter, and five other women with their families.  I went out of curiosity, and with some skepticism, because I have found in the past that these groups tend to attract women who want validation for their choice, even after the children have been born and represent "facts on the ground." I find it tiresome and troubling when I hear many attendees of these groups express the following sentiment:  "I am here so my children don't feel like they are freaks and outcasts in society.  I want them to see that there are other families like ours."

I totally agree that it is advantageous and healthy for Raphaela to know that there are all different types of family units, and that many children have at least one parent who does not live at home; and that it does not negate the deep and unconditional love that I feel for her as her mother, and the self-love and confidence that Raphaela should cultivate within herself for the rest of her existence.

On the other hand, I have fully committed to my choice, love Raphaela beyond imagining, and think that it could become less healthy for her to be around children whose mothers are afraid of society and who feel the need to constantly remind their children that they are different, as occurred as well at the gathering yesterday.  Penelope Leach, the author of the essential guide Your Baby and Child, wrote the following:  as long as a child has one person in their life who they know loves them to the Moon and back, that one person they know they can always count on to protect them and care for them, from that small wound on their finger to the bigger emotional trials, that child will grow up to be a loving and confident human, a person who connects with others in a healthy and mutually supportive way.

As with all behaviours, our children take their cue from us, the adults around them, and especially the unspoken messages we broadcast.

For most kids, that one constant is the mother, and for Raphaela, that is me, supplemented thank G-d by a network of friends and adopted family here in Israel.  Leach's statement does not make a husband/father unnecessary by any means, but more so a bonus in a child's experience.   I remain open to finding that other half who will enhance me as a woman, and love Raphaela, wherever he may be and whenever we are destined to meet.

The meeting ended with a discussion of the next event for the group, at which point the organizer suggested a "Mommies Only" Day.  I'm glad that they have extended family who will watch their offspring at a moments notice, good for them that they don't need to work.  As much as I greatly desire the friendships of like-minded people, and would appreciate expanding my network of support, I don't have that luxury at the moment.


Amy Charles said...

Well, hang on.

This is how you view it. You have no idea how RR will view it, and she's just about old enough to start telling you. You may be surprised by her curiosity about and/or desire to be with other children whose mothers decided to go it alone.

In general I don't seek out other single-mom families (except on occasions like Mother's Day, so we can celebrate together), but there are plenty of them around. I know it's been helpful to my daughter to see how life goes in other such families, particularly around issues like dating and remarriage. And she's not dumb, she knows there are advantages and disadvantages to various kinds of family.

My guess is that by deliberately staying away from other SMBCs and their kids, the implicit message will be "don't be like them". Which would be kind of a mindfuck. I'd say open it up. You can always tell RR later that you don't think some of this stuff is necessary, but I wouldn't be standoffish.

Amy Charles said...

Incidentally, about that next meeting -- I used to run a mothers' group, and it was mothers-only. Crucial: a babysitter (or sitters) in the same building or place. We need time to talk as adults, without worrying about what the children might overhear, and without being distracted every 20 seconds by their needs. But I do think it's less than kind to propose a mommies-only and then not have childcare. You might let them know that you'd love to attend but would need that.

Doc said...

@Amy, I agree with you, I want Raphaela to know that the fact that she was conceived in a non-conventional way is part of who she is, and I will give her all the lattitude she needs to ask questions and deal with it. I just don't want her to get stuck in that, "I'm different and thus inferior to the other kids because I don't have a Daddy."
And as far as the next meeting, it would be LOVELY to hang out, but I don't have any family or consistent child care, besides me. I found it a bit clueless that the organizer assumed that we all have grandparents eager to watch their grandchildren.

Doc said...
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