Illegitimate- An Outdated Term for Children

I am now officially in the demographic where over 33 percent of my friends on facebook are pregnant or already have children.  Not to out anyone in particular, but a significant number of those people discovered that they were pregnant prior to being married.  Many of these couples did subscribe to the necessity of a shotgun wedding.  My only conclusion for this is that underneath everything, it was to claim some sort of legitimacy for their child.  There are a few more liberal definitions of legitimate child floating around that include an amendment which states that if the marriage happens shortly after the birth they may still be considered within this term, but the legal definition is that the wedding must have occurred prior to the child’s birth.
With divorce rates so high and couples choosing happiness over marriage and lasting commitments of unhappiness this term should naturally decline in use.  I was born in to a happily married young couple,  who divorced just shortly after I was 18 months old.  I was not technically born as a bastard, but my mother was for all intents and purposes a single mother until I turned 10 when she met my step dad.  The technicality of why I was a legitimate baby just does not make any sense to me.  The spark to this was the other day I was having a conversation whereby a few of us were guessing which sibling would produce the first grandchild.  Almost instantly the game was amended to include the parameter that the child had to be legitimate. 
Does this mean that the child born in wedlock would receive an increased amount of love and privilege?  Should this honestly affect the child’s status?  Did the level of love I received decrease because my mom was single when she raised me?  As well, what if a triad was raising a baby, or a poly family?  Are certain members granted more legitimacy than others if all parties are equal?  This is just a new set of challenges that our society needs to face head on and start thinking more clearly about the terms that we throw around.  I know exactly what it felt like when I was first called a bastard growing up, and I staunchly denied it on the basis that my parents were married when I was born.  Somehow as a young child I was raised to learn that that made all the difference in the world.  But there is no way anyone could tell me that I would be loved any less had my mom given birth to me out of wedlock.  And I felt no less love from my family and extended family being raised by just one parent. 
Illegitimate should be taken out of our legal vocabulary.  It is a definition with no gains to be made, and is outdated.  I should add though, that some of you may view this post as a hypocrisy on my part when it comes to marriage.  I have written that I would like my children to grow up in a household where everyone has the same last name, and that is most definitely a want on my part.  But whether that is a reality or not, there will be zero impact on the unconditional love that will be present and always surrounding that child.  I want a unity of last names and legally that can occur with or without wedlock.

Transitioning – Maintaining Your Resolve

A few people in my life are working through breakups, divorces and the various likes of not being in a committed relationship.  So the opportunity for relationship material is almost endless,.  Sadly thae temptation to break down lurks around every corner of the newly single life and I would like to share a few of them here.  There is just a step first that needs to be made, and that is deciding what course of action is best suited for your particular situation and sticking with it.
The very first time I was dumped I was devastated and heartbroken.  I had only ever been with one man and that was him.  It was clear to me at the time that the only way to survive the breakup, was to continue to see each other on a friends with benefits situation.  The goal was that this was to be temporary, until we were both strong enough to start seeing other people.  But we recognized that we both had physical needs, and we knew we were safe choices to continue a physical relationship.  The thing was though we were young and had no idea how to actually see other people, and one thing led to another and bang we were eventually engaged years later.  I am not saying this is a bad resolve, and may work very well for some couples, but for me, it was a fail.
Thus I have come to the conclusion that for myself, personally, the last two major breakups I have had my goal is complete ending of communication.  It is a very hard resolve to keep, however I know myself.  I also know how badly I want to fix problems and make things work out.  To keep temptation at bay, I have no choice but to keep my distance.  In conversation today, I started to tear up at the prospect of getting back together with my ex, or seeing him on a date with another woman.  There clearly exists that emotional tie to him, and further to that end a physical one.  I am not ashamed to admit that if I saw him, I would have an enormously difficult time keeping my hands off of him.  There is an intense physical lust that is almost intensifying as time goes by without him in my life.  But again, in past experience, friends with benefits does not mesh with me and exes.  On a side note, I have had quite a bit of fun turning friends into Friends with Benefits, but that is a story for another time and place.
The other thing I would like to express is my concern when it comes to communicating with an ex or a soon to be ex.  Sometimes it is just not possible to make the other person hear what you have to say.  If communication was amazing between the two of you, chances are you would not be breaking up.  Thus accept the fact that fighting is just not worth it.  How incredible the feeling would be, to say that thing that you have been trying for years to say and finally have them hear and understand you.  But that is the crux, it just won’t happen.  Stay firm, keep the peace whenever possible, and just hold to your guns that it is over.  I say this knowing that I did not want things to end this last go around, but I am mature enough to understand that changing a person or their opinions is futile  All I can do, is keep the door closed, until I can maintain my composure (both sexually and verbally) the next chance meeting.
There are rules and guidelines to making a relationship work, but there are also rules that apply to breaking up with dignity and grace, even if you have to fake it.  Set a goal, and try to achieve it, just as with anything in life.  Something as simple as one hour without tears, gradually increase that to a whole day without tears.  Do whatever it takes, but keep fighting out of it.  If your voice is ever going to be heard, it will not be through an emotional episode or outburst.  Let what is, be what it is.  I think it is important to repeat, that breaking up is a real sign of strength.  Choosing the resolve and path to achieve this should aid you in this.  Be in as much control of the emotional roller coaster as you can.

Transitioning – Ending a Relationship

I titled this as a relationship blog, and now that I find myself single I wondered if perhaps this should be renamed or changed in some way to reflect my current status.  A thought though struck me; part of a relationship is knowing when, and how to end one that isn’t working.  A second part is in the exploration and finding of that new one.  These are key factors in ensuring that happiness is met at all times.  Not just in lamenting and waiting for the next chapter, but living the current one that you find yourself in. 
So let me start here with what I have learned from years of breaking up stories, both with my involvement and as an outsider.  If the relationship is over, even by just one party, then it is in fact over.  There are no magic words that can be said to re kindle that bond.  Yes, there are temporary fixes and those may be wonderful, but know that there is a time limit to them.  Something is wrong in the relationship, and if it was fixable, it would have been.  The last step a person takes it to actually end things, as it is painful for everyone, and we protect ourselves from pain.  That is one of those uncontrollable s, but you can control how you react to this news.
I am heartbroken every time I hear that the man or the woman is getting spiteful, greedy or mean in the face of a divorce or a severing of a long term investment.  I honestly can tell you it is NEVER worth it.  The emotional roller coaster is hard enough, but when you have two people who are going through different stages at different times it is a recipe for disaster.  One of the hardest things that I have found is not having my emotional partner there to help deal with things.  That is a very vacant feeling, when you are crying and your shoulder is gone.  For me I dealt with it by getting angry, and judging the ex for putting me in this position.  I say this with as much kindness as possible, the worst thing you can do though is to vent or share this with your ex.  Because you are both at different stages it is bound to lead to disaster and regret.    The sooner you can find a support system outside of the ended relationship the better.
I personally have tried family, friends, and when things got uncontrollable I sought out professional helps.  Do whatever you need to, but keep that door closed with the ex.  It’s a pain that just isn’t worth it at the end of the day.  Keep in mind too, that if you are one of those couples who are meant to get back together in the end, showing off this ugly side will never help.  One more word of caution when embarking on this ending, know that money is not a replacement for emotion.  And emotion has nothing to do with money, they are separate issues and if you cannot keep them separate, and then don’t deal with anything for a while.  Walk away; put everything on hold until your brain can process the money with some semblance of rational thought.  Ugliness comes out in full stride whenever these two overlap.
I speak from personal experience being the child caught in the crossfire of numerous divorces with my parents.  Also I learned and have had incredibly smooth breakups in my past.  Rough and rocky at times, but thankfully the scars were emotional only, never property or money.  There is no resentment, just a closed door.  An ended chapter, as long as you learn from it is OK.  One trick I have learned is to write a conclusion for the ended relationship.  I personally write an obituary for the relationship, and I write one for the person.  I am conscious of the words and language that I use, and ensure that whatever I write has no malice or ill intent.  Just rational, and loving remembrance of the time shared and what made me fall in love with the person.  It gives me a sense of closure, and I would recommend this to any person out there struggling.  It’s painful, but without closure we are but after all going through the motions and missing out on new opportunities.

Dating: The How To…. If She/He Has Children?

I have reached a point in my life when I now have a few very close single friends who have children, and most recently found out that a friend is dating a man with a child.  Aside from that being a really scary reality check, I know that there are many questions out there about this topic.  So I thought I would share a bit about my knowledge on this subject.  Please be pre-warned that I am very passionate about a few points I will bring up and I will do my best not to point fingers in the process.

I was raised by a single mother for over half of my childhood.  Although things weren’t perfect one thing looking back that she did incredibly well was to ensure that any dating she did, didn’t involve me.  She is still a very attractive woman, who has told me a bit here and there about her dating life now that I am an adult.  As a child though I was kept in the dark.  She always put me first and foremost, very similar to the powerful women in my life who are raising children of their own.  With this being said, there is one incident that I hope will raise a bit of a warning, and I write it again trying not to point fingers.

My mom and dad divorced when I was less than two years old.  I lived with my mom full time and saw my dad without any real consistency.  My mom explained that she couldn’t be with my dad, and in my eyes that meant that every time he came around it was for me and me alone.  Being an only child this meant that my mom lived only for me, and my dad lived only for me when he was around.  When I was eight (or thereabouts) that spell was broken.  I walked upstairs to kiss my mom before school and found her and my dad asleep in bed together.  I vividly remember the shock and wave of emotions that overtook me.  I went to school and I think I even got in a bit of a fight but its a little hazy.  That moment when I realized that I now had to share my parents, and that they could have a relationship that wasn’t all about me sent me into shock.

Here’s the thing though, both my parents really thought that this was a great thing for the family.  My mom who had protected me all those years didn’t have a clue how much this upset the precious balance of our divorced family.  And I had no idea what these feelings meant at the time, or why I had them.  I do know very shortly after I received my first puppy, I wonder if this was related in any way?  At any rate this traumatic event set into motion my extreme empathy for all children who have divorced parents, and really gives me a passion for the subject. 

When I was recently told by a friend that her new boyfriend had a young child I very quickly gave her some words of advice.  I asked her, “please don’t rush to meet the kid, as it complicates things”.  In a new relationship its all about getting to know the new and potential partner.  Statistically the relationship will not last more than a few days or weeks.  It takes a lot of time and a bit of luck to really find someone who is a potential for a more long term commitment.  But when you rush to meet the child too soon that can really skew the natural process.  In most cases the kids are really cute, and amazing.  The innocence is intoxicating and you see the other person in a whole new light.  A person living for their child, a very tender and incredible sight.

I personally would have a hell of a time walking away from that, or not letting this invade my thought process for a long term commitment.  Introduction of children into a new and budding relationship is just not fair.  The feelings now go beyond anything superficial and become about family.  You have been given a pass to overlook certain characteristics of this potential suitor because you now see them in this most amazing environment.   Our instincts to toss out, and be a picky as we can become less than accurate.  This doesn’t even take into consideration if the child is older and sees you as this new and exciting person.  Adults must remain adults in this situation, as the child lives free hearted or vicariously through a new and unique situation. 

As for dating when you have a child, being that I don’t have any of my own, all I can say, is that it is your responsibility to protect your children from an adult environment.  Date, get laid, have fun and live your life, but keep your child first and foremost. Sheltered from the dating life that is no place for a young child.  Place boundaries on adult time and the undivided attention that you give them when you are home.  Try and be a real person to them, this will help so much when they are teenagers.  Again, my mom did an amazing job with this and I love her so much for being a real friend and mother when I needed her.  And sometimes when I didn’t think I did.

Happily Ever After…?

When I was a little girl I always dreamed of falling in love and getting married.  I don’t think I understood what marriage really was, but I knew I wanted to wear a wedding dress and have the ring.  The odd part was that all through my teens I was convinced that I did not want children, and being an only child I really put my mom through the ringer with that.  Now in my mid 20’s my views have almost flipped completely.  I want children, and a family but perhaps not the whole marriage part? Getting married is a confusing topic in my little coconut, especially when divorce is almost guaranteed and costs a flipping fortune.

I worked with a woman who would joke that her husband and her signed a 25 year contract when they got married. At the end of the 25 years they could renew for an additional 25 years or they could both go their separate ways.  Thinking outside the box like that really makes a lot of sense in this day and age.  25 years together would ensure that their children grow up with stability and security, but that the adults could still be adults when all was said and done.

I was engaged for 4 months, and my personal experience was that the fairy tale of getting married was much more pleasant than the reality. And of course the amount of work and money involved in the whole process seemed unnecessary.  The cards are stacked against marriage, a small fortune to get in, and a large fortune to get out.  The moral, in plain black and white, don’t get married.

But there is that fairy tale aspect, that little girls dream to be a princess for one day, and get carried off by prince charming and live happily ever after.  From an emotional standpoint I know first hand how frustrating it was living my teen years with unmarried parents.  It felt like our house was less secure and stable somehow.  Also I had the last name of my biological father and not that of my step dad which I think played towards the lost sense of belonging at times.  That sense of what family meant for my friends versus what I had seemed different especially on paper.

The idea of marriage is one that I am very curious what I will end up deciding in a few years.  I know the emotional ties to it, and I am well aware of the black and white reality for the institution.  Also I vividly know that trapped feeling when I was planning my own and I am not sure I can entirely rule out that it was not for more reasons than just the wrong man.  Perhaps the only answer is small little contracts of time, with agreed upon renewal dates where ever children come into play.  If no children, just live and enjoy who you are with for as long as it works for both parties then end things regret free with a mind full of knowledge and memories.