When Relationships Evolve

Michael and I had a difficult conversation yesterday, but one that’s been too long coming. See, when we were focused on survival and learning to cope with various medical stuff, and caring for kids, and, and, and… our relationship changed. Honestly, it changed in a way neither of us ever wanted.

The best words I have for it (and this still isn’t quite right, but it’s what I got) is somewhere along the line we stopped being friends.

Wait, What?

A big part of the problem is that we’ve grown in different directions in terms of the things we enjoy doing. So it’s hard to find things to do together when we do have time. Part of the problem is that between health problems and low spoons, we are often simply unable to spend that time together.

And that causes another problem. Because we aren’t spending much time together in a positive way, a high number of our interactions are when we’re stressed and trying to get stuff done. So I don’t see as much of Michael’s humor, but I see a lot of her bitterness and anger. Michael doesn’t see a lot of whatever positives she sees in me, but does see a lot of my jadedness and no-spoons-to-give-a-fuck. And that’s not a recipe for maintaining a friendship.

A last problem has, thankfully, finally been solved by time. The kids are old enough we can tell them ‘Entertain yourselves for an hour/stay in bed and don’t bother us except for emergencies, we’re having parent time.’

And, that’s a hard thing. It’s always hard with a friendship ends.

What’s different here is that our relationship isn’t based on in friendship anymore. It started that way, but it’s grown a lot in the past ten years.

We love each other.
We care for each other.
We are nesting partners.
We are co-parents.
We are each other’s main support and help.
We are life partners with shared goals and dreams we are working towards together.

Don’t get me wrong. Realizing that we’ve lost that friendship hurts. And I’m grieving it.

But the end of one part of our relationship don’t mean our relationship has to end. Doesn’t even mean our relationship is unhealthy or bad for us.

It just means our relationship went in a direction neither of us expected or wanted.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Michael believes that we can rebuild our friendship. If we make an effort to spend time together, if we make more time for each other, etc etc.

I’m doubtful. More than once over recent years we’ve said, ‘You know, we need to spend more time together.’ ‘We really should start doing date nights again.’ ‘We aren’t spending emough time together…’ And we’ll try for a while, but it never lasts.

And of course, what time and spoons we can get, we always have a dozen uses for. What time we’ve gotten to ourselves has gone more towards the physical side of our relationship, be it sex and/or cuddles. Which, really, we need more. We have other friends we can get friendship-type needs met with. But neither of us really have anyone else we can turn to on a regular basis for sex and cuddles are hit-and-miss.

So I’m not sure I want to try and ‘fix’ this. It seems like an exercise in frustration that will make it harder to get other needs met.

Where do we go from here? I think we accept that relationships aren’t domesticated. They are wild things that grow naturally in directions we don’t expect. We go forward from here, enjoying what we had, and, yes, being sad for what we lost. But also remembering that in any healthy relationship, growth is constant. Maybe once the kids are older and more of are family are in the area so we have more support, we’ll have more time and spoons to spend together. Or maybe we’ll become a queer version of the crotchty old couple who are constantly fighting and seem to hate each other but god help you if you come between them or cause trouble for one of them. Or maybe we’ll grow further apart (hopefully not, but it does happen).

I’ve learned the hard way that I’m shit at predicting the future, including the future of relationships. So… we’ll see what happens. But given everything else we’ve been through, I expect we’ll still be together, and still be glad to be together, in another 10 years.

One way or another.

(After some thought, I’m tagging this Polyamory on Purpose because even though I’m not actively advice-blogging anymore, I’ve known a lot of folks who could learn from this.)

Tradition is The Support Frame — Generational Home

Last week I spent a while talking about how economic stability is the foundation of a family, and for a family that will hold together through the generations, this usually means a family business to provide that stability.

The caveat, that I didn’t mention last week is that this assumes the family business is successful. Obviously, and unsuccessful family business (like the one my grandfather tried to start) won’t provide any financial stability. And my grandfather’s business did fall prey to what may be the most common danger a family business can face — heirs who couldn’t keep the business running.

But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. Because really, what our heirs in this generation do is out of our hands. Never mind all the future generations.

No, today we are talking about something different. If economic stability is the foundation of the family, then…

Tradition Forms the Support Structure

I know for a lot of folks these days ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ are dirty words. And there’s good reason for that, given the way claims of ‘tradition’ have been used to attack or exclude many of us in recent decades.

But tradition is like a knife. It is first and foremost a tool to help people.

Tradition is what creates culture. And this is true whether we are talking about a family, a religion, a fandom, or a country. Culture is critical to the survival of any social instutition. Culture creates a sense of belonging. Culture is also what creates non-economic value. My words are failing, but hopefully you get what i mean. There is value to art forms, sports, holidays, etc, that is completely separate from whether or not someone has managed to commercialize them. That those things are all part of culture.

Why do we play baseball and (American) football in the US, but soccer is the big game in the UK? Culture.

Why different cuisines in New Orleans and Maine? Culture.

Why Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC? Culture.

Culture, which is created by tradition. After all, Maine and New Orleans both have seafood heavy diets, there’s no practical reason why their cuisine would be so different today. But they each developed separate traditions based on the available spices, needs of the people living there, and ideas brought in from other cultures. Those traditions became embedded in the cultures of those regions and they continue today.

Evolution vs Creation

Of course those traditions (and cultures) evolved naturally over time. No one set out to create them.

A family can evolve traditions as well. But bringing multiple people who have different backgrounds and personal and/or family traditions from other families can easily cause conflict. So I prefer to intentionally create our traditions.

For instance, there are some holidays that I really want to be part of our traditions. So I put together a short write up on what those holidays are, why they are meaningful for me, and why I think they can be meaningful for everyone in our household even though most of them are Jewish holy days and only I and Michael are/will be converting to Judaism.

And I asked everyone else to share if they have any holidays that want to make part of our family traditions. The risk here was that we would end up with too many holidays to feasibly observe. Everyone agreed with my holiday suggestions, and only one other holiday was put forth. Halloween.

So, yeah. Fall is going to be an… ah… interesting, not to say intense season in our home. What with Rosh haShana, Sukkot, and Halloween back to back (or sometimes overlapping).

Of course, there are more to family traditions than holidays. But holidays are a good place to start. Especially since we can (sometimes) share them now, while we work up to being able to live together.

Hey, I’m writing a fantasy story with a group of folks building a generational family.

Get early access by becoming a Patron.

The Foundation of the Family — Generational Home

It’s one thing to say that I want to build a generational home, a family that will develop its own existence beyond my lifetime.
It’s another thing to make it happen.

To Build Anything, You Need a Foundation

Social and economic pressures in the US are actually working against family as a lasting social structure. That’s something most of those folks decrying the ‘death’ of the nuclear family aren’t getting. This isn’t some moral failing or rejection of good-old-family values. It’s a rational response to the world we live in.

Nothing has a stronger impact on culture than economics. Even religion must bow to the basic necessity of putting food on the table.
But that, ironically, also explains how some families have managed to maintain coherence across generations.

I used to wonder how you could have business or farms that had been held by one family for decades or even centuries. It was only when I learned about the impact of economics on culture that I began to understand. A successful family business protects the family unit from economic disruption. After all, if Dad has a company you’ve been trained to take over, whether it’s a corner store or a Fortune 500 company, you don’t need to move across the country to find a job.

A family business provides a foundation for a family to last through the generations.

We Don’t Have One — Yet

For our family that will be the farm. If we are successful with it, then our heirs will have at least two cushions against economic disruption:

1) They will have land that they own. That means a home, shelter, a place to live. As long as they can keep the tax payments up they will always have a place to live. (Admittedly, tax payments have driven many people out of their family homes. But fewer people than rent or mortgage!)

2) If they keep the farm going (which will, of course, be out of my hands once we pass it on to said heirs), they will always have food to put on the table.

Those are powerful things to pass on to those who come after us.

We Aren’t a Traditional Family

Two major differences we have from a traditional family business come from our basis in polyamory. First, and most, this is a group enterprise. Second is our nature as a chosen family. While these bring challenges, probably including challenges we haven’t yet recognized, they also reduce challenges faced by traditional family businesses.

I’m still working through a lot of it. And I’m mostly working it through on my own. I do need to talk all this through with the rest of the family, but, hell, we are years away from getting the farm and none of us have the energy to spare right now. I happen to be one of those folks who obsessively plans for all possible futures. Partly a level of anxiety/paranoia. Partly because as an autistic person, the more I plan and prepare for the future, the less the changes the future brings fuck with my head.

Tradition and Freedom

That said, a big advantage this household will have is that as a group, there isn’t pressure for any individual to take up the family business. Only two or three people in each generation are needed to keep the farm going. Other members of the family who don’t want to take up the farm will be able to pursue their own life goals and bring in money from other careers. Basically, it’s kind of best-of-both-worlds. The food security of a family farm and the economic security of literally anything other than farming. Because, yeah, the economic prospects of farming in the modern world suck. Trust me, we’re not going into this blind.

Communal Isn’t a Bad Word

The most economically successful small-farming approach historically has been communal farms where a whole village works together. Why: simple. Farming is labor-intensive, and economies of scale apply to labor too. 10 people working together on 10 acres can do more than 10 people each working 1 acres. And our household being a family group means that extra labor will be available for labor-intensive work. Sure, no one wants to put an hour or two into harvesting before or after working an 8 hour day at the construction site or office. But for family (and food over the winter) people will do that kind of thing. And having those extra hands available makes a big difference. (In theory. I think. Yes, I’m making this up as I go along.)

Economy Over All

So, yeah. This probably isn’t what folks were expecting out of this post, but this is reality. The foundation of any human endeavor is economic. Which is another way of saying how will this be maintained. Either money, labor, or both are required to build anything lasting. And not paid once, but continuously. For social constructs (which is what any family is), the critical maintenance is food on the table and a roof to shelter under. This is true whether that food is scavenged from dumpsters or served on gold plates. Whether the roof is a cardboard box or a palace. If the food and shelter aren’t there or aren’t adequate, people who can will leave to find them.

I don’t need the gold plates or palace. But so long as I have any say in the matter, I’ll be damned if any of my family is food insecure or homeless again.

Be Careful What You Ask For…

So, Ericka and Nana are settled in, mostly, and plans are apace for Michon, Dilip Numetor Amalia Chetana Waller, and associate kids, to move to the area before school starts. (Possibly later for Michon bc awesome jobs is awesome.)

Rewind a Bit

Anyway, while helping Ericka move, Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller* told me he was worried his tendency towards impulse spending would screw up plans over the summer. (Or words to that effect, anyway.)

Being the dirty minded kinky dom that I am, I’ve occasionally (ahem) entertained thoughts of Dilip Numetor Amalia Chetana Waller as a sub. My sub, to be specific. I haven’t said anything to him about these entertaining thoughts because the poor guy has enough on his plate adjusting to polyamory and how radically his family changed while he was out of the picture. Throwing kink on top of it seemed a bit much.

Plus, he hasn’t given any indication that he is interested in any kind of relationship with me, much less that kind of relationship. Or any indication that he is kinky at all.

Anyway, it did, um, occur to me that if he was my sub and agreed to findom than I would control the money and overspending or impulse spending wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

I took a minute to enjoy the idea and set it aside as ridiculous. Both for the above mentioned reasons and because findom has never really appealed to me.

Fast Forward to Now

Tonight, I gave Dilip Numetor Amalia Chetana Waller a quick call to check on progress before I (again) became completely nonverbal. (It’s been a bad week in general and a really bad week for communication.) He caught on pretty quickly about how badly I’ve been doing and at some point, after something he said made me giggle, commented on the goodness of being able to laugh.

Conversation continues, finding work in the area, apartment hunting, and the money stuff that comes up reminds me of those findom thoughts. Figuring we could have a good laugh over the absurdity together, I say, “On the subject of making me laugh, here’s a weird thought I had…” and I tell him.

And he takes it seriously!

Didn’t. Even. Realize. I was joking.

He counter-offered that he’s control the money at first, but if he screwed up — the first time he screwed up, I could take over. Even said I could monitor his budget and spending from the beginning so I’d know if he screwed up…

What the hell is a dom to do when someone she’s been having hungry thoughts about offers himself wrapped up in a bow?

I told him, “Okay, that would work, but, um, I was joking you know.” (As you know, because I spoilered, he didn’t.)

So… over the weekend (that would be the weekend before this post goes live, I’m writing this post early, as I prefer to) we’re going to have a talk about what findom is, what it involves, and why jumping in before he fully understands what he’s getting into might be a bad idea.

And I’m… still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Is it too bad of me to hope that this may be a foot in the door for a broader D/s relationship?

*Yes, I am writing that name out, in full, every time. I almost never let myself be petty. But I’m making an exception this time.

Season of Moves

The next few months are going to be crazy, but I think worth it.

Ericka and her Nana will be moving up here late May. We found a mostly-wheelchair accessible place. A friend of Bea’s is building a ramp up to the door (with landlord’s full support).

Then, if things go according to plan, Dilip Numitor Amalia Chetana Waller will be moving to the area in June. He’ll be looking for a job and apartment for him, Michon, Kid 2 and Kidlet to move into later this summer.

So if all goes well, we’ll have most of our fam all in the same area before school starts next fall.

Of course, all this is on top of normal life stuff, end of school year rush for Kids 1 & 2, various health issues, Michael being deep in NRE for new relationships, Michon having con-thing and exciting short-term gig…

So yeah, crazy couple months.

But Worth It!

Luckily, Ericka and grandma’s move got pushed back. It was originally planned for the end of April. Which, in addition to being right after Pesach, would have been way to close to some health issues and MORE life stresses to have gone well. (As evidence of how bad this might have been, I didn’t get a post up last week for the first time since re-starting this blog.)

When it’s done, all of us will have a larger *local* support network, much more access to physical intimacy, and (if I have my way!) regular family dinners. The kids will all have more adults involved in their lives on a regular basis as well as being able to spend more time with each other doing kid things. And the folks moving into the area will have access to the surprisingly decent resources for poor and disabled folks in this area.

Last but not least, we will all be better positioned to start working towards having a place where we can all live together. Our (hopefully) generational home.

My Families

Since I’m going to be talking about my family a lot more than previously, it’s probably time I actually lay out who-all is in my family.

I know family life is always complicated, but mine is a bit more complicated than most, having two families-of-origin and a sprawling overlap of chosen family/polyamorous network.

My families of origin probably won’t be showing up that often, if only because (due to various kinds of distance) they just aren’t an active part of my life these days. Which is a sad.

Family of Origin 1

My birth family, including father, mother (recent deceased), 5 siblings, an aunt, a grandfather, a sister-in-law, and a sort-of uncle (my mother’s brother-of-choice) who I tend to forget exists half the time. (Sorry!)

Family of Origin 2

My adoptive family, including father (deceased), mother, brother, assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins, and apparently soon a sister-in-law.

Chosen Family/Polyam Network

Several of these folks will be coming up regularly. Especially in relation to generational household and old ‘woman’, but also sometimes also the farm. Often enough and enough detail that I went around and asked a bunch of them if they were okay being talked about and what name I should use for them.

  1. Michael — nesting partner, father of two of my children, my BDSM submissive & pet (24/7). She/her. Fursona is a demon.
  2. Michon — cuilmate, mother of two of my children, co-dom to Michael, head of family. Ze/hir. Fursona is a dragon.
  3. Dilip Numitor Amalia Chetana Waller — father of two of my children, Michon’s live-in co-parent, still figuring out where he fits in our weirdness. He/him. Told me to come up with a pseudonym for him, so I used my favorite random name generator. Now he’s stuck with it.
  4. C — girlfriend, LDR. She/her. Fursona is a cat.
  5. Ericka — Michael’s girlfriend & BDSM submissive, my friend. She/her. Fursona is probably a cat.
  6. B — sister-of-choice, auntie to two of my kids, mother to a kid of her own. She/her

Other folks who will also get mention from time to time:

  • The five kids Tween, Kid 1, Kid 2, Kidling, and Kidlet. For those who have been following the blog a while, none of these were part of the custody battle I was involved in several years ago. Tween is B’s kid. The others are mine by birth or by choice.
  • Michael’s brother-by-choice (J)
  • J’s mom, whose become mom-by-choice to me and Michael (MB)
  • Ericka’s Nana

Generational Home: the gang’s all here

Today we’re talking about another one of those lifetime resolutions — having a generational home. I want to live with as many of my US family as possible. I don’t expect to get everyone under one roof, if only because my girlfriend is more of a loner. But we have… Call it a core group of five of us and our kids who want to all live together. And maybe others in time.

Personally, I’m flexible on the how. One big house, tiny apartment building we own together, cohousing set up, I can work with any of it. Just so we are all together.

We’re already working towards it

I’m really excited that we may be taking some big steps closer to this goal. If all goes well, by this time next year, everyone in that core group will be living in the same locality. Michael’s girlfriend and her grandmother will be moving in May, and the other night my cuilmate told me that hir goal is to move within the year, along with hir coparent and kids. (Coparent wasn’t expecting to move so soon, but is mostly on board.)

In my dreams

Ideally (there’s that word again) this would be more than the five of us. It would be (as the name says) a generational home, including girlfriend’s grandmother and my kid’s adopted grandma, Michael’s brother and Mom, and maybe others. It would continue after us. As we get older and step back, our kids or others we invite to join us will step up and, keep the space going.

Ideally, because modern society strains generational families to the breaking point, which is how we ended up with the cultural ideal of the nuclear family in the first place, but we’ll see.

This goal and the Old ‘Woman’ goal are the two that will consume my life. The others all have places where I can say, yeah, I’ve achieved this and I’m stopping now. These goals will only be finished when I pass on responsibility for them to the next generation. Assuming that day ever comes.