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[personal profile] enemyofperfect
So I was looking at a gif of that moment in "Get Carter" where she and Taylor fistbump and her face is all scrunched up in this smile and it's amazing, because she's 109% just so happy and obviously she loves him forever and would defend him with her life, but I feel like there's also this 1% where at the same time, she is completely terrified that she's getting it wrong and how do children anyway????

Which I assume is a recurring theme in the lives of most parents in any case, but it reminded me of how much I always loved their dynamic, because she is THE BEST MOM and Taylor knows it and they're just consistently so great, but also I feel like she was never completely sure of herself in the role of interacting-with-beloved-kid -- as opposed to like, caring-like-heck-about-said-kid, or siccing-dubious-former-assassins-on-people-who-kidnapped-her-kid, or making-sure-her-home-environment-is-safe-because-ARE-YOU-KIDDING-ME-HER-KID, or all that other stuff that plays to her strengths of bone-deep honor, equally strong love, & brilliantly facing down bad guys.

And so what this brings me to is that I suddenly, desperately need an AU where like, she served in the army yes, but her husband either didn't, or took medical discharge and ended up staying home with their son, so when they later ended up divorcing -- about as amicably as it's ever possible to; they just weren't the same people they'd been, is all -- he kept primary custody because he was the one who'd been handling all the day to day while she was gone, and Joss was the holidays and weekend phone calls mom, always so proud of her son and so happy to hear from him, but never that involved in the practical details of his life?

Until suddenly for some reason, and I really need to figure this out because messing up Paul's life is not okay but there needs to be some inciting factor -- maybe it's as simple as Taylor getting a scholarship to a really good school in the city, and it makes way more sense for him to move in with her than for Paul to quit his job and move to another state and try to find a place with reasonable rent in New York City? -- but suddenly, okay, Joss is going to be raising Taylor up close and personal. And on the one hand she's thrilled, because this is her baby, and on the other hand the last time she was directly involved in his daily life he was, like, only mostly potty trained, and how?? is she going to not mess this up??????????

So she calls up her army buddy John in a panic like TAYLOR'S MOVING HERE QUICK HOW DO I MOM and John is like, ...well Carter that's a really good question, and she's like THANKS FOR NOTHING ASSHOLE and hangs up.

But answers the phone when he calls her back and accepts it as an olive branch when John says apologetically that he saw Harold diaper a baby once, even though, thanks, she's got that skill set down, not that she's hoping it'll be relevant with her freshman son -- unless, oh, god. John, Paul's already given him the sex talk, hasn't he? Tell me 14 is old enough that he's definitely had the sex talk!

Really though, Joss is entirely capable of sitting down with a steely expression and a pack of condoms and explaining the importance of communication and consent, should that in fact prove necessary (which fortunately I'm pretty sure it does not). It's the other stuff that would get to her, the little things -- the offhanded questions, the unexplained moods, the parenting doesn't happen on a schedule things. And it's hard not because the military or detective work ever geared her to expect challenges to present themselves in an organized fashion during business hours only, but because -- this is a job that's also a relationship, and that's a lot harder for her to manage and prioritize, somehow, than even the most chaotic situation involving evildoers and firearms.

And it's hard because it gets under her guard emotionally in a way that nothing else really has, and she knows that's how it's supposed to be, that you can't build a wall to keep out your own kid, but -- it's just so much harder than she was expecting?

Ahagslkahglka this has gotten serious. This wasn't supposed to be serious, this is supposed to be made of hapless hilarious flailing in the same way 100000 (beautiful!) fanfics about dudes unexpectedly winding up with kids to take care of have been, why is seriousness happening? But I just.


Can that be a thing? I just really want that to be a thing.

I posted the above on Tumblr, and then of course I went on thinking, and it occurred to me to wonder if part of what's going on with the accidental parenthood trope when it's applied to male characters is that sexism tells us that men are bad with kids, so making them primary caregivers is automatically funny and incongruous and dramatic -- until we get to the heartwarming twist that actually, men are human beings and can be domestic and nurturing too, and that delivers a nice happy ending.

And I don't know if I'm right about that or not, but it made me think that part of what makes me love the idea of Joss Carter, World's Most Awkward Mom, is that sexism also tells us that women are supposed to be just effortlessly, naturally great with kids, and she isn't -- sort of as if it's a learned skill, and not one that everyone takes to? -- and the heartwarming twist is that that's okay. She can make mistakes and have to figure things out. She can reach out to her friends instead of trying to do everything herself. She can be a great mom without fitting any of the unattainable cultural ideals of what that means: she can be a good mother, and still get to be human.

Having said that, I'm now extra aware that I have very little understanding of how Carter's position as a black woman specifically might interact with any of the above, so I might be omitting something important from my handwavy analysis. But, here are some thoughts.
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