by Heather Somaini
In so many ways, parenting seems like something we are all propelled towards.
I turned on the television last night and there was a documentary on Stonehenge and how new evidence shows that the people who built it, along with other monuments in the area, were focused on fertility. The celebrations they had at these locations honored the dead and the living. They gave thanks to the gods for the fertility of their crops, their animals and themselves. They would eat, drink and cavort into the wee hours and often, many babies were born about nine months later.
It’s a blessing and a curse for so many people – the ability to have babies so easily.
Our babies did not come so easily. As two women, we needed some help. There were doctors and nurses and of course, a sperm donor. It took time to determine all the who, what, where and when of it all. There were lawyers, a social worker and even a judge. It’s a very complicated, detailed and expensive process.
When our twins were born, a new complication arose – our roles. We are programmed since early on to understand our parents’ roles in our lives and I’m assuming many people emulate that - or do the exact opposite. I thought it would be easy and we would just “do” things. We had always talked through things – from how to install a closet system to dinner party invites. I was confident we would continue doing more of the same.
Instead, there was new conflict. Over everything.
I never thought about my parenting role and how that would affect my primary relationship. I pushed forward assuming everything would be status quo but it wasn’t. My role, our roles needed to be defined but neither of us knew it. The nights were long, sleep was scarce, priorities seemed mixed up and communication was at an all-time low. We stumbled through the dark not realizing we couldn’t see. We thought we were fine. We had to be fine because everyone else said we were fine. We really wanted to be fine. We were too tired to be anything but fine.
We weren’t fine.
A couple of years went by before the hairline cracks widened and turned into legitimate problems. Neither of us were willing to give in. We fought. We fought with each other, for ourselves, for our babies, for each other, for us. We never gave up at the same time. That’s what saved us – poor timing. It takes an incredibly long time to put together something that was broken apart so quickly. Time requires re-evaluating your role in tiny, miniscule ways. Who clips fingernails? Who makes school lunches? Who thinks about summer camp? Who drops the kids off at school? Each action and decision inches us closer to a role; a role that we each define anew for ourselves. It’s not rocket science but it’s not simple either. I’m not my mom and I’m not my dad. I’m my own kind of parent. I’m fiercely protective and proud and happy and embarrassed at my mistakes. I’m thoughtful and considerate and harsh and too tough.
Simple is falling on to the path your parents walked for you. Sometimes I wish for that simple path. I wish it was easier and that I didn’t struggle so much. But this struggle is mine and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Heather Somaini works for Lionsgate and lives with her family in Los Angeles. She is also the creator of the well known supper club Eat+Drink.