Queer Brown Girl Trying to Be a Parent – Polyamory and Parenting
It is a huge misnomer that polyamory is based in jealousy and conflict. I thought it was when I started living the polyamourous life. I inflated my jealousy so as to have monthly tantrums about being jealous, comparing loves and relationships, making and breaking boundaries and so many more dramas I now regret.
I recently read another blog about growing up in a polyamourous household. And it was boring. Not the article itself - but the author’s life growing up with poly parents! He lived a normal life like any other kid and he didn’t describe any real conflict among his parents and their partners. (Of course, there were probably conflicts and jealousy but nothing out of the ordinary according to this excerpt).
So this blog, riddled with positivity about polyamoury and its influence on the author, made me think about polyamoury and my son, Adli. He came around long after me and my partner established rules and practices around our non-monogamous life. So he is integrated into it, so to speak.
It was one of the things we had to talk about extensively in some ways – how to share this life with Adli and have him feel honoured and held by it, not just tacked on to our so-called ‘self indulgent’ lifestyle (and again, that is some of my own preconceived anti-poly thinking that I grew up with; that being poly is about having your cake and eating it too, not multiple love, care and relationships). And what the heck is the point of a cake, if you can’t eat it anyways!
So, there’s some thinking my partner and I have done to create a cocoon of love around Adli in terms of polyamory because we are parents to this new baby, now in toddler form, and we want to keep the drama to a minimum.
My partner thinks I have mellowed out around my poly-jealousy. Having asked her how she thinks I have changed she says: “(You’re) not invested in fighting or arguing about jealousy or poly stuff around the baby, especially, you’re more chill about jealousy and time away from our family because (my other) partner(s) show care for Adli. (Maybe its because) You’re older and more mature.” Again, all this sounds so lovely and mature. Its like, where is the poly drama???
There are some truths that polyamory itself has lent to me since becoming a parent that are crucial to my survival in my polyamorous relationship with my partner.
My partner being in love with someone else allows for me to have time to be in love with myself.
I know, like what? But truly, when my partner takes her time away to be on a date, it’s an opportunity to court myself and make the most of the time I have alone. That can mean I am with Adli but also, I have to make the most of the time when Ads is asleep and I can rest, rejuvenate, have sex or relationships with other people.
Being in a poly relationship while being a parent makes both my partner and I have to talk about our relationships with Adli.
When he was a baby it obviously wasn’t as crucial for him to understand when my partner was on a date. Now, he knows when we are coming and going and gets upset at a slammed door or excited when a new visitor arrives. It’s important that Adli knows we are sexual, loving people, who thrive on positive relationships, as we all do. Its also important for him to know that we are not all-sacrificing moms who give up all other aspects of our lives to parent. This is a patriarchal notion; that women must give up their lives (and sexuality) in order to be deemed as good parents. Instead, we are humans who need love, just as much as the next person.
Polyamory has re-envisioned family for me.
I didn’t come from a conventional nuclear family and to be real, not many of us did. But at the same time, it’s burned into our brains this notion of family being comprised of mom, dad, and kids. But polyamoury has offered me many people to love and care for Adli. Our partners and friends all care about us on a fundamental level, hoping we succeed and not wishing or doing harm toward our family. People, within their insecurity and jealousy, have found ways to take up real love and support for our son. In fact, it has been my partner’s partner who has often come to the rescue when Adli is sick or I am exhausted, to support him and me through childcare.
Polyamoury takes time and work.
At one point this year, I wanted to stop being polyamourous. I was so tired and spun from the daily duties of parenting I didn’t want to take my few moments of rest to talk about poly stuff with my partner. As a parent, while it lent itself to having more people to support Adli it also made me feel unlovable because my partner has a partner, and I don’t. Who wants to spend all your free time as a new mom talking about other people’s happiness? Or that’s how it felt sometimes. The root of the thinking though wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to be poly anymore but that I wanted to feel more loved, seen, acknowledged (as a new mom/would-be lover to someone and within my post pregnancy ‘new’ body) while I didn’t have another partner and my partner did.
Polyamoury has enriched my life.
Having multiple kinds of romantic relationships gives room for me to grow, learn and share myself with others. As a parent, I have learned even more the value of seeing myself as beyond one thing; an activist, counselor or mom for example. I am many of these roles simultaneously. Finding moments to be loved, sexualized, and valued for my multiplicity is fun and exhilarating.
As humans, we don’t tend to only listen to one kind of music or one band or musician. We have multiple friends, with all levels of intimacy. We allow ourselves to have something different for dinner each night, if we choose. I have always had this theory that having sex with someone gets you to a next level of understanding and learning about them; romance, intimacy are ways in which we learn, about ourselves and other people.
And when engaging in the serious-not-so-serious role of being a new parent, one might think we should close ourselves off to the possibilities of polyamoury because of the safety of our children or exposing them to a forbidden lifestyle or that its bad to allow kids to get attached to partners who might eventually just fade away. All these things may be true at one time or another depending on your family, community and situation. But having more support, more thinking, more exposure to new people and new ideas and I am sure, more love, can be such an amazing thing for kids and the family as a whole. I hope this becomes Adli’s experience when he’s old enough to recognize the roles poly partners can play as poly parents. Author Benedict Smith inspires me to help Adli see polyamoury in his life (as a kid growing up in poly household) this way:
“I never resented my parents for hanging out with their partners. We all went on trips to the movies and narrow boat holidays together. Having more adults around the house meant there was more love and support, and more adults to look after us. Dad and James didn’t get jealous or resent each other either, far from the alpha male antler clattering you might expect. They were good friends.
I do remember the first time James told me off. I was eight, and had almost toddled into traffic, when he pulled me to the pavement and shouted at me for not looking left and right. I remember thinking: Oh, this grownup is allowed to discipline me too? But it didn’t take me long to realize that it also meant that another grownup had my back—and would keep me from being flattened by oncoming traffic—and that this was a good thing after all.”
Other resources from Poly Parents and Adult children of Poly parents!