Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Rise of a New Nuclear

Awhile back I jokingly suggested to a very beloved gay friend that he and I might have a baby together if I reached a certain age and had yet to have the parent experience. He took to the idea better than I expected and we've been talking about it since. I don't know how serious he is (how serious are you about this, honey?) but the more I date, the more viable the idea becomes. Who says babies have to be born to people in a romantic partnership? Why not co-parent with a close friend you genuinely love, with whom you share important values and interests? Aside from the fact that all the homos we go to happy hour with agree that our baby would be beautiful. And that's what really matters, right?

Lately I've been living with my cousin and her daughter, my goddaughter, and informally exploring the possibilities available in the world of family, partnership and child rearing. I am by no means my godbaby's mother- I am far too indulgent to be anything but an auntie- but I have been participating in parent-like activities. I help pick her up from school, make her dinner, brush and braid her ever-tangled hair, and tuck her in with a song. My cousin and I have been sharing kid coverage so we both have time to take care of the many facets of our lives, including dating. At the end of the day, with the kid well-loved and sleeping, we swap stories, laugh and/or cry and share a kind of sisterhood I am finding invaluable. Maybe we're onto something in a Mosuo-style.

Research has a lot of conflicting things to say about the make up of a household and a child's success, but my godbaby seems to be doing just fine. She is reading above grade level, knows that a comma goes at the end of "the quote," (which my cousin pointed out some UC Berkeley students haven't mastered) and she did a beautiful painting recently that's reminiscent of Monet. She also kicks ass at math and wants to have an all-girl science birthday party. She is a happy, playful kid who gets along well with others and will sensibly negotiate for what she wants. My cousin has familial and tribe support, but when all is said and done, she and my godbaby make up a sweet family of two...and they are both succeeding admirably.

The farther away I get from my last real relationship, the closer I come to deciding to remain single, committing to a blessed lifetime of love with myself. All this dating is putting me in touch not with how much I want a partner, but with how content I am being "alone." I am not so yogic as to be without cravings for meaningful, intimate contact, but I am realizing that I have no desire or intention to be in a traditional relationship for the sake of being in a traditional relationship. My perspective would likely shift if faced with someone who moved me very deeply, but being moved, shaken up, awakened by someone like that is the perfect reason to spend some time getting to know them better...perhaps even choosing to relate romantically to them. These people are the mirrors that help show us our truest, highest selves- who we were, are and can be.

In the meantime, while I imagine, chant and look for this person, I will be my own mirror. There are things within ourselves that are more easily viewed reflected back in the eyes of another, but this is not essential to know and love myself. That's what yoga is for.

This much is clear: "Family" is what you make of it and, like the whole world, it's rapidly changing as we live and breathe.

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