Romper

Why I'm So Proud To Be A Mom In An Open Relationship

Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen

For me, love grows the more its discovered and shared. It thrives where its given space and time to evolve. It's one of the beliefs that's led me to explore and pursue non-monogamy. I've had many discussions about how a lifestyle like mine that celebrates relationships outside of a primary one is selfish and harmful. I don't fully disagree with this, because I've seen non-monogamy fail, but I also know it's not my experience. My open and non-monogamous relationships are self-centered, and I agree that the ways you pursue different people for different needs is selfish, too. In non-monogamous relationships, you don't expect your primary partner(s) to be your everything. You don't leave them with this burden. Instead, you give them breathing room and space. Now that I'm have children of my own, I'm so proud to be a non-monogamous mom who believes in open relationships. And I don't think that's selfish at all.

As a parent, I did question if practicing non-monogamy was something that would be harmful to my children. But I realized how I chose to live out my life as far as my personal and sexual relationships go isn't at all harmful for them. If anything, my decision to be a mom who is non-monogamous stands as a beautiful example of what love can be. My children have grown up surrounded by the belief that we, as people, do not have to be everything to those whom we love — especially to the ones we choose to build lives with. As a parent, I think that belief structure is incredibly freeing.

My kids see me as Margaret because I am Margaret. I am a mother, a partner, a friend, and sometimes I am another's partner. We keep no secrets in my home and part of that is because I've allowed my children to see me for who I am and what I believe. I love raising my children in a community that's overflowing with admiration and respect for others and the way we've all chosen to live our lives.

Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen
I understand that non-monogamy isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean its wrong. I still live by the same values that drive heterosexual couples. I still value, love, respect, honor, and trust my partner. I just happen to have more than one sometimes.

When I first imagined my kids' upbringing, I wanted their lives to be surrounded by many people, so that they knew full well who they could love and rely on. I wanted them to know that these people were friends, but they're also family: a family built by choice and by chance. Non-monogamy gives us a family created in this exact way. People who don't practice or believe in non-monogamy have judged my parenting and told me that they believe my children are exposed to things that are "unhealthy." But I don't know what's unhealthy about having multiple relationships, all built on respect and trust. I don't know what's unhealthy about children being "exposed" to a life that's full of love and freedom. I understand that non-monogamy isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean its wrong. I still live by the same values that drive heterosexual couples. I still value, love, respect, honor, and trust my partner. I just happen to have more than one sometimes.

Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen
I want my children to understand that who they are, what they want, and what they believe are all things we can talk about. I want them to know that I will love them regardless of how many partners they have or don't have. I want them to know that in my home, there is and will never be any expectation for them to fit into any box other than the one they build for themselves. That's my favorite part about non-monogamy.

And to be completely honest, this is the life I wanted for my children. I didn't know what it would look like when they were smaller, but now that they're older, this life is everything I wanted it to be — for them and for me. I'm still learning what works for my primary partner and our relationship, what works for me, and what works for us as a family, but non-monogamy has given us all a freedom monogamy never did. My kids are growing up in a home where their parent addresses her needs and wants. I don't hide. I don't lie. I don't pretend to be someone I am not. And my kids get to see that firsthand.

Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen

I want my children to understand that who they are, what they want, and what they believe are all things we can talk about. I want them to know that I will love them regardless of how many partners they have or don't have. I want them to know that in my home, there is and will never be any expectation for them to fit into any box other than the one they build for themselves. That's my favorite part about non-monogamy. It's self-focused, but it also focuses on how it also benefits others. It encourages self-care, communication, and respect. Without those things, there is no thriving, there is no growing. And those are all values that are incredibly important to me as a parent.

I've seen the community we've cultivated become a secure place for my children, and nothing has meant more to me than that. The children know who their people are. They know who is here for them.
Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen

The conversations I have with my children surrounding love and relationships are always insightful. They're 6 and 7, respectively, and I'm amazed to hear how the world around us has affected how they perceive love and relationships on their own level.  For my daughter, who's 7, she's always telling me about all the people she plans to one day be in love with and how no matter what, they'll be friends, because that's how love works. Those moments make me proud. Because love does work in a way that we don't always allow it to. And just because you may not love another person as much as you love your primary or secondary partner doesn't mean you can't love them at all.

We talk about love a lot, its power, its strength, its vulnerability, and how its healing in our home. By being with other people, I show my kids that love also gives us an opportunity to have honest conversations about jealousy, which they're learning is natural. I never had a good grasp of jealousy until I faced it head-on. So I love that by being honest, my children will be better prepared than I was, even if they don't choose a non-monogamous, polyamorous, or open lifestyle.

Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen

Another reason I love having other adults in my life is that my children are learning about life not only from me, their dad, and their stepdad, but they're also learning about it from other adults. I believe that life experiences for kids shouldn't just be limited to the experiences of their parents. My kids learn about life and love and just being a person from all the other adults who are consistent forces in their lives. They love my kids, and my kids love them. I've seen the community we've cultivated become a secure place for my children, and nothing has meant more to me than that. The children know who their people are. They know who is here for them. As a parent, that's all I could ever want.