My son is off again with his Papa to visit his paternal Grandparents. This is lovely and he adores going there, so I’m more than happy that he has the opportunity and that his father’s family adore him back. He deserves that.
It’s just tough when he’s gone. Sometimes I cry when he leaves, sometimes I don’t. This time I didn’t, but it didn’t stop the tightness across my chest from making me want to thump things just to get some relief. The one thing the last 2.5yrs has taught me though, is just to drop everything when I feel like this and go and play with my garden. Whatever the weather, that calms me down.
I do, however, have time to ruminate, while tinkering with plants and shifting things around and, rightly or wrongly, today, I got to thinking, again, how much more my boy ‘belongs’ with his father’s side of the family than with mine. He was born here, in Germany and, let’s face it, he carries his father’s name. It defies logic, but sometimes that is the real stinger.
It was my choice, to have my son named after his father on his birth certificate. By default, in Germany, he should have carried my name, given that his father and I were not married, but after a huge amount of soul searching I took a deep breath and gave away the one thing that links him publicly to me … I think I already knew deep down that my relationship with his dad would not last and, despite everything, I wanted my boy’s father to have something to bind the two of them in the eyes of the law and, in the eyes of everyone else, given that L was always going to live with me.
Most of the time it’s ok … I just avoid using his full name if I can help it. He has a middle name and when we’re mucking about and I’m pretending to be cross, I will call him ‘L – A’ , but never L – A and then his surname. That fact alone hurts me. I don’t want to have to hold back with him, but sometimes I have to as, despite the fact that I know it was the right thing to do, I often still resent my decision; knowing my son will never, ever carry the same name as me stabs me so hard sometimes that I can hardly breathe but how stupid is that! It’s a word … a name. Why should it matter at all! I actually despise the fact that it really does.
Often at the doctor’s or on the phone – recently, for example, in a call from the new Kindergarten – I am referred to personally as Frau L … (my son’s surname) which ironically does link me officially to him, which is great, but in doing so, attaches me by default to his father from whom I am long separated, thereby removing my own identity in an instant. Ridiculous though it sounds, two and a half years down the line, it still does that to me and I am always (probably somewhat overly) defiant in correcting the mistake. Salt is rubbed further into the wound when, invariably, the receiver of corrected information doesn’t ‘get it’ the first time and I’m left hanging out my dirty washing in a waiting room full of ‘families’ while said assistant grapples with the concept of mother and son not being mutally identifiable from her infallable database of patient details.
So I wonder if it will get easier. With my feet on the ground and ‘sensible head’ on, I realise that I am being quite pathetic. The fact that L does not carry my name or that of my family can never diminish the fact that he is my son and, ultimately, the fact that I bore him and am now bringing him up, but, somewhere, there is a gnawing fear that by forfeiting my right to his name, I have given up any real right to him as a mother with the result that I may have already lost him … is it just a matter of time?