Three days ago I got back from an eleven day road trip. Nine of those days were spent in North Carolina, where the majority of my partner’s family lives.
I was meeting them for the first time.
Somewhere in the middle of the trip, he asked me how I thought it was going.
Other than it going exceptionally well, there was something that I was struggling with.
The baby came on to the scene automatically related to all of them. A new grandson, nephew and cousin. I, on the other hand, was still only the baby’s mother. While I would never assume to instantly be viewed as family just because my partner chose to be with me in that moment, I still felt removed, separated somehow without the proper titles.
Not because I was being treated differently. If anything, I was welcomed with open, kind and loving arms. I felt comfortable and safe and didn’t mind long stretches alone with them.
I think that I was just a little bit sad to not be an aunt, sister or daughter-in-law. My son got a new family, blood related to a group of wonderful people just by being born. And the only way I can “earn” the familial bond is to be married.
It’s total crap and yet it was another example of how being someone’s wife is recognized above everything, almost more than being a mom in some ways.
It’s something I didn’t consider at all until I was in the situation and found myself wondering exactly where I fit in.
Again, not because I was made to feel like an outsider. But because my being a stranger was only slightly elevated due to being one half of the reason this baby exists. Sure, no small feat. Still somehow less because he was born out of wedlock.
In the confines of my relationship, I’m content in knowing I’m bonded to my partner because of our child. Whatever that relationship evolves into is yet to be seen, but we are forever tied.
In the eyes of the outside world, however, we are two unmarried people with a kid and for outdated, old fashioned, yet still acknowledged social reasons, don’t get to hold certain titles unless we say “I do”.
I’m not sure what my dad thinks of my partner, but it was just easier to tell the AT&T customer service rep that he was his son-in-law instead of his Daughter’s Baby Daddy. I mean, I get it.
For the time being, everyone goes by their given name. Maybe one day, when more years have passed, I can call these fine folks my nieces/nephews/sisters/brothers/mother/father-in-law.
Until then, I’m happy to have met my son’s family, who he is certainly lucky to have.