I’m very . . . parental. Apparently.
I’ve started to realize that as I’ve grown more into the version of myself that feels like the true adult me, I’ve developed dynamics of varying intensity in different types of relationships that put me in some kind of parent role. I Mommy people in ways that I know how, like what I learned from my own Mommy – cook them warm meals, serve them hot tea, don’t let them do any of the cleaning afterward. I Daddy them in ways I learned from my own Baba & also from the world at large – I hold the umbrella for us both to walk under in the rain. I pick up the check secretly, then open their car door first on the way home. And if anybody messes with us, it’s my body on the frontline, my attitude, my voice, my defense. My fists. I parent people in ways that I learned from both of my parents. I give rides to the airport. I pick up the phone if they call in the middle of the night & need to get picked up from somewhere or just need to cry. I come to the rescue.
I come to the rescue so often and I cook so many of the meals and I slip the $20 to the guy at the burrito truck before my companion has had a chance to blink so often that it’s become expected of me. I realize I created my own conundrum here. I-took-care-of-it so many times that clearly now I am The Guy Who Takes Care Of It. But I’m starting to feel a little trapped. Taken advantage of. I realize I’m even sometimes non-consensually manipulated into the Parent role, caretaking in more ways than I used to think possible.
I’m tired. I’m unpartnered. I live alone. I have a dog. I work five days a week in the service industry. I have many side projects because my service industry job is not particularly stimulating, so I am always trying to remain intellectually, emotionally, and creatively challenged. I have lovers, sometimes. I have family, who live a seven hour drive away, but who need phone calls and visits and emails. I have a pickup truck, so I help people move pieces of furniture or an entire person’s worth of stuff pretty often. I have friends. I try to prioritize them, as they’re the ones who have most consistently shown up for me. Also, I struggle with the idea of referring to myself as chronically ill, but the truth is, I am consistently in physical pain, and have illness that is brought about by mold & various chemicals & synthetic scents, that affects me in various ways. In short, I am busy, and exhausted.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to parent so many people. My caretaking tendencies, coupled with my money-saving immigrant mentality, and my Capricorn-y work ethic, make it really hard for me to choose easeful, self-care practices or treats in my downtime. A hot tub, a massage, a vacation? Few and far between. I should be looking for a “real job,” or writing, or organizing, or making music, at least, is what I tell myself. (Of course I wind up on Facebook or reading celebrity gossip about 70% of that time, when I sit in front of my computer trying desperately to convince myself that I’m “working.”)
I’m realizing that I need to invite (more of) a different kind of relationship into my life. I need my friends and partners and lovers to encourage self-care. To want to show up for me sometimes, or scoop me up & take me on a weekend getaway in the woods. Invite me over for a home-cooked meal after which they don’t let me do the dishes. (Sometimes! Not every time!) I have some of these relationships & dynamics in place already, and they are so nourishing and feel balanced and good.
I sometimes wonder if so many queers I know don’t wind up really digging kinky parenting or Sub/Dom role-play because there probably is some innate desire for many of us to parent . . . and so many of us don’t become parents, or don’t do it until way later in life than our straight counterparts, or parent in more fragmented ways, like being there for a child as a parent-figure for some number of years due to circumstance, like shared housing or a single queer parent friend needing support for a limited period of time. I’m not saying everyone wants to be a parent, but maybe that there’s a good chance that most of us have some hard wiring that makes us want to do that in ways that aren’t as easily accessible to us as they are to our straight counterparts.
Add to that that most of us have difficult relationships with our own parents and many childhood traumas to heal, and is it any wonder we want to play around with some of our unresolved parent/child dynamics with a leather-clad Daddy to tell us what to do? Or a woman, beautiful in ways that are consistent with mainstream ideals, made-up and in an apron, keeping our tummies full but smacking our asses with a wooden spoon when we’ve been bad? Or that we want to parent? Mommy or Daddy our lovers who dress up as and act like little girls and young boys.
I realize as I’m writing this that I’m basically pathologizing kink. Unh. All teh imperfect. Full disclosure is that I totally participate in many of the dynamics described above in varying degrees. I don’t think there is anything wrong with me or with you for wanting to do that, whether we are intentionally working to heal something through kink or simply think it’s hot and don’t want to complicate our enjoyment by thinking about it further.
I am just trying to figure out what’s up with this big PARENT label that apparently got drawn on my forehead at some point. Maybe I’m overanalyzing the whole thing because I want so badly to be a parent, a biological parent, of a child of my own, and I still can’t imagine how in the world it’s going to happen, in this current work situation, in this current world situation, in this little apartment, with no support and no parenting leave and shitty insurance that would get cut the second I leave my job, which I’ll have to do half-way into my imaginary future pregnancy. MY IMAGINARY FUTURE PREGNANCY. For chrissake.
I think what I need is less parent-play and more work toward actual parenthood, which is what I really want. Less imbalance, more balance. Less care-taking and day-saving, more space to do that for someone who will actually need it. My imaginary future child. My future child. 🙂