Rabbit Mother, Tiger Daughter. [Journal entry 6.9.14]

I am not going to fight.

I am going to vastly improve my argument (and it’s pretty damned good already).

I am not going to point out the obvious (at least not obviously), and I am not going to name-call.

What I AM going to do is be there. Be present, and supportive, and listen and focus on what is important: She is. My daughter, my child, the pine cone to my fir.

I am a Rabbit raising a Tiger. It is not always easy.
I am a Scale raising a Ram; she butts her head, hard, into every.single.thing.

She will learn tact and compassion, and how humor is our lifeboat during difficult times, and how it is my primary way of coping *any* time – to see the humor in every situation.

She teaches me what it is like to be enraged, fully, and to express myself – as she does – with no filter, with passion and heat and language and every venomous bit of vocabulary when provoked or frustrated (or tired). Her anger is pure and without apology or shame; mine is always “polite”.

She teaches me how to let go quickly and move on, and that there are, in fact, people who just do not deserve to know you. This is a new concept for me, for I have given myself away in pieces my entire life. You wanna piece? Here.

She teaches me that to love someone is to also be in love with how you feel about yourself when you are together. This is new to me, too; I thought loving someone was always about exhausting yourself just to make the other person feel they were loved without any doubt; it never really mattered I received less than I gave.

So many lessons we share, together.

DJDawson 2014

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Bearings.

Sunday evening truth:  After two full weeks, I feel a bit lost.

Maybe it will come and go, just as the realization I am actually here at all keeps knocking me over in unpredictable, powerful waves of ‘Oh my gosh!!’  They rise up at the silliest times and catch my breath.  At the kitchen sink doing dishes; brushing my teeth for bed at “his” bathroom vanity (the first three years, I used the hall bath, not the master bath); waking up in the middle of the night and hearing him sleeping, or letting the dog in and out but not leashing her for a long car ride home/north.  And, driving everywhere, to learn where I am and how to get lost and, then, found.

So, it happens a lot, the realizations.  They’re not easing, either.  It’s like moving here and living here are One. Big. Dazzling. Shock.  (You will let me know if this is normal or if it is not.)

Tonight, sitting quietly, my internal compass is off.

Parts of Being Someone’s Partner feel unfamiliar and rough-edged.  And, while I am generally happy (OK, ecstatic), I am presently uncomfortable and (angry with myself for) feeling lost – exactly the feeling I do not want in this new geography and new home, cohabitating with another adult-as-partner.  (How do I do this?)

Things are going fine.  Today:  simply spent.  Grocery run with his son, brunch prepared by partner.  His son left to visit other parent.

We napped, adulted, supper’d in summer pajamas.

6PM.  I cleaned up dinner and manfriend headed to bed (yes, that early), to rise and shine at 2 AM to work the mechanics of crushing or pressing grapes once they are picked in the cool, early morning.  His schedule will be nuts for the next six to eight weeks.

And when he bedded, suddenly the day came to an unexpected halt.  Or, rather, my role in this house/as a partner did.  My things finally here, in storage, as of yesterday.  I feel safe, the way one feels safe in the vestibule of a city building during a passing rainstorm.  Safe, and a relief I can’t explain.  Also like a visitor, lightly breathing, trying to not take up space or exist too loud or make noise that would wake a person.  Waiting (but for what or whom?)

“You belong here, in this house.  You do know that, don’t you?  You fit perfectly here.”  He asks/tells me when we are quiet and enfolded, adulting in private earlier this afternoon.  I smiled and nodded; at the time I agreed.  It felt “yes” and accurate; it has felt “yes” for some time.

Left alone to myself right now, I realize my ‘belong’ space and fit-in-here has been defined by the other two people in the house.  I mediate gently, listen, deal with food when asked or when obviously my task; I fill in the gaps an alpha/partner/’aunt’/friend female might fill, had there been one here before.  There was not, not in this house, anyway.

I am the first (and the idea is, the last), of any length or measure, outside the wife and mother – roles someone else owns and I am happy she keep them as long as appropriate.  But, who am I when not needed or sought?

Wait – stop.  I ask that again.  It rings in my head a few moments then wanders down into the velvety, gooey darkness where all these things murmur – these deeper truths, the painful questions – and something unlocks.  I have been asking this question, “who am I when someone doesn’t need me?” since DD moved out abruptly in late January.  Her departure left me reeling; it continues to seize regularly, weighted collars of failure and heartbreaking loss make it hard to inhale, and my once-usefulness exhales and dies all over again.  It’s been doing this for nearly nine months, a gestational period of “Why?” and “Where did I go wrong?”  It’s hard to live with someone you doubt or do not trust, especially when that person is you; it has been grossly uncomfortable facing myself every day despite what loved one’s say of my good worth and “excellent parenting”.

So, by her not needing me, I have defined myself as a mom-failure, an adult unworthy of just about everything related to mentoring, guiding, teaching…and being capable of weathering the needs – or lack thereof – of others.

So, who am I here?  Here with manfriend/partner and his dear teenson?  And while he sleeps for early work, who am I, waiting out in the living room/den, playing hushed-martyr-girlfriend, stalled and waiting to feel sleepy enough to tiptoe down the slender hall to bed and ghost in beside him.

Who am I when no none needs me?

Who am I when I need someone?  Better still, who am I, what of me do I own, when I need me?  That is the answer, the anchor:  who am I at my core regardless of role or being desired or fetched or filling in a blank or mending or paring or hemming or holding or kissing or unfolding or responding?

It is the beginning of week three.  I will make an effort to Be myself and not immediately define my fit here…but I’m not sure how to do that without automatically embracing stereotype or without the administration of someone else’s needs before my own.  Women who caregive do this without a second thought:  we take the role(s) we know, rather than one we create for ourselves.

“Reinvent yourself,” they said, when I announced my departure from Long Island, from DD living in our/my/the house, from leaving a traditional desk jockey job.  The leavings, juicy and ripe with potential.

“You can reinvent yourself when you come down here,” manfriend/partner suggested on more than several occasions.

I’m working in it.  One feel-good at a time.  One dizzying, elated wave of relocation euphoria at a time.

Gender and Appendicitis. Genderitis.

For a while now, you can custom define your gender in your social media profiles. Humans are no longer just “female” or “male”.  This is what I learned this morning, poking around my facebook backstage looking for the “blocked” list while contemplating who I’m about to un-connect because I have no idea who they are (or how we know each other).

My eyebrows raised at “Gender Fluid” as an option.  Is that the distant cousin of ‘Social Lubricant’?  It sounds like a hip bar drink.  With vodka and pheromones, two cherries and a twist of something not citrus.  Maybe irony or independence.  If so, I may reconsider scowling about Happy Hour and jump on the new-and-improved gender party jitney. There are several interesting choices, many of which are well outside my sphere of comprehension, but I accept them all. Who am I to judge?

I feel so plain.  Just plain ol’ female – no bells nor whistles, no snap-on parts or renovated bits – not like some newer models.  Or rebuilt models.  I have had two surgeries – both necessary and emergent, none cosmetic:  a c-section to delivery Loinfruit in 1998, and an interval appendectomy in 2010.  “Interval” refers to the space between ruptured appendix undetected for three months (I thought it was just an annoying ovarian cyst so I blew it off and went on with my business.  For almost four months.) + level of septic gunk in my abdominal cavity remedied by a full week in hospital on heavy-duty antibiotics and other pharms.  Since I was sick to the point of “you could have DIED!” (I was totally clueless about that, by the way, until the head of Infectious Diseases came and stood at the end of the hospital bed, my chart in hand, and screamed that at me in my medicated fog).  Gee, thanks.  Once my body was healthy (took six months), they went in and removed the appendix (which had resealed and was starting to do more bad things).  TMI, I know.

There were moments, mostly in my 20’s, I spent thinkering about gender and what it actually means – and the problems gender causes when not handled or understood.  While friends came out, other friends morphed while other friends hetero-paired or coupled and families ensued.  Everyone can divorce, everyone can fall in love, everyone should be able to create a family in whatever manner they are able, as long as no one is hurt in the process.  Pretty simple.  So, does it really really matter what we call ourselves as long as we are good, kind and reasonably sane?

Were it ever an option, there are days I’d select “Female Impersonator” as my gender.  Shadows of my younger self ghost in and out of my body and once in a while the mirror. But that’s about as far as I’d go. Ever the homebody, I’m fine being an average, ordinary, plain builder-grade female. Plus, my equipment doesn’t need an owner’s manual. (Many men will argue this point to a shred, of course.)

Happy gendering!