Happy Mother’s Day

Mr. Wonderful is very career-minded. He has been working on advancing his career throughout the years of his marriage to Girlfriend, and she has been supportive. As good Mormons, they made sacrifices so that they could live the ideal: that the husband and father would provide for the family, and the wife and mother would remain at home to nurture the children. This has been their arrangement for the decade or so since they have had children.

It only seems natural, then, that on Mother’s Day, Mr. Wonderful would take a moment to express his appreciation to his wife for her devotion to the children in particular and to the family in general. The message he actually delivered, though, was somehow wide of the mark. He essentially told her that she was an unfit mother.

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Finding signs

I recently read a post on Deborah Mitchell’s great blog Kids Without Religion that discussed god as the enabler in a relationship with an addictive partner. In talking about how a politician named Mark Sanford took his recent win in the polls–despite having been involved in scandal after scandal that should have proven to the public that he was unfit for office–as a sign from god that he had been saved from his repeated sins, she wrote:

How convenient. His god forgives him. Again. And again. Like many folks, Sanford’s an addict and his god, the enabler. That’s the reality. Sanford knows that he’ll be forgiven as many times as he needs it. And God doesn’t even exact a punishment. Instead, he rewards him. “Saves” him, whatever the heck that means. How does Sanford know that he’s been saved? Did God tattoo a stamp on his derriere ‘SAVED!”?  Or does he just know he’s saved because he’s won the race and he’s in his happy place? (The answer is the latter.)

She goes on to talk about the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions and not just continuing to harm others, trusting that in the end god will make everything right again. It’s a really great point and a good read as well. What really caught my eye, though, was slightly off-topic from her main points. The idea of finding signs from god in unlikely places kind of intrigued me, and I wanted to discuss that a little bit. As a Mormon, I knew the feeling of looking for god’s approval in signs similar to Sanford’s electoral victory.

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Just testing

So with all the hullabaloo going on with Girlfriend’s family and in-laws, it got me thinking about my family. If I were to travel home and bring Girlfriend with me, would they refuse to see her? If I brought my children with me to see their grandparents, would my parents decline the opportunity to see my children just because Girlfriend happened to be in the car with me? Would they shout her off their property?

I realize it probably wasn’t the wisest thing for me to do, but I was feeling quite shocked at what Girlfriend was being subjected to. I don’t know. Maybe I felt like I wanted to share the misery with her. Maybe I felt like if she were having to tell all of her family to go to hell, it wouldn’t be fair if I weren’t willing to do the same thing with mine. I’m not sure exactly. But I contacted my mother. “Hey,” I said. “I haven’t got any definite plans made, but I’m just kicking around the idea of maybe taking a week-long vacation with Girlfriend later this summer and maybe stopping in town to see you guys for a few days. What would you think?”

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The bomb

There was a span of time just prior to my separation from my wife where I wasn’t writing on this blog even though my life was progressing at what felt at the time like incredible speed. It seemed something was happening almost every day that shaped my outlook on life. I was searching for meaning after leaving Mormonism. I was struggling with the concept of god and of the absolutist morality that came as a result of belief. I was questioning the purpose behind marriage. I was reevaluating long-held assumptions about the balance between the needs of society and of the individual. Most of those stories haven’t been told on this blog yet.

As I got back into blogging after my separation, I told myself that I’d pick up from where I was and only go back to some of the other stories as the need arose. Otherwise, I would have been too overwhelmed to begin writing again. I recently went back and related my discovery of polyamory and the reasons that I believed it was a more rational approach to relationships than monogamy. But I never detailed my transition into polyamory. Today that story needs to be told because it provides information that will help put in context the bomb that has been placed in front of me.

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Polyamory’s warts

It was about a week and a half ago that Girlfriend told me about her sister’s graduation ceremony. She was interested in attending it, but it was a twelve-hour drive away, and with her husband unable to take time off work for it, she didn’t feel confident making the trip alone with her small children.

I did what any self-respecting boyfriend would do. I offered to accompany her on the trip. When Mr. Wonderful agreed with the plan, I was really excited. I figured it would be nice to have a little getaway with her, and that helping out with the children and the driving would be a small price to pay to be able to visit Girlfriend’s hometown with her. What I didn’t count on, though, was that I would experience firsthand the reaction that most people have to those involved in a polyamorous relationship. Nor could I have predicted the effects those reactions would have on the relationship itself.

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Among tooth fairies

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter a few days ago. I had asked her if anything fun was going on in her life recently. She didn’t need much impetus. She has a lively sense of humor and loves to share things that seem funny or whimsical to her. She told me the story of how she had recently lost a tooth. She told me she was slightly worried that it wasn’t a baby tooth, because she hadn’t noticed it getting loose. Instead, she noticed a small pain in her mouth, and when she explored the source, her tooth came out in her fingers.

She told me how she had given the tooth to her mother, but that her mother had lost it. “It’s okay, though,” she told me. “Mom gave me a dollar for it anyway.” Then she got a serious look on her face as she asked her next question. “Dad, what do you think Mom does with the teeth?” I wasn’t quite sure how honest I was supposed to be, so I asked if normally the tooth fairy doesn’t take them away. “Dad!” she said, her eyes lighting up with the pride of being among those in the know. “I already know about the tooth fairy!”

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The sacrament of remembering

A week or two ago as I was driving home I was perplexed to see an American flag flying at half mast. I don’t know why I do this, but I tend to segregate different parts of my life. You know. I have this life at work that doesn’t really intersect with the life I have at my apartment, which is completely separate from the life I have when I visit Girlfriend. The trip home from work is disconnected from all of them, so I saw the flag, and it puzzled me for a few moments until I realized that it had been lowered in memory of the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Perhaps it was this moment of confusion that did it, but I started to wonder what made the three deaths in Boston “worth more” than the thousands of deaths that happen around the world every day. Not to belittle the tragedy of that bombing. But is it any less a tragedy when anyone loses a loved one? Should any flag ever be raised all the way to the top of the flag pole?

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Unexpected compassion

I received today a copy of the judgment that was entered into court in my divorce proceedings. I don’t really know if there is anything else that still needs to happen before the divorce is considered final, but since the paperwork says the judgment was entered a few days ago, I think that makes it official. I’m divorced.

I went into the human resources office at my workplace and asked to speak with the benefits coordinator. With the divorce final, I have an official qualifying life event that allows me to review the benefits I’ve selected for the year and make any changes that are appropriate. Our company’s benefits coordinator quickly and professionally provided me with the information and instructions I needed, but also gave me something I hadn’t expected: compassion. Instead of being strictly business, the benefits coordinator asked me how I was doing and talked with me for about half an hour about the things I was going through.

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