By Ali Polizzi
…comes flying out of my 3 year old boy’s mouth this year like a dirty word he must have picked up on the street. My wife and I joke that we don’t know where he “picks up that kind of language” but the sting for me goes deeper than our fleeting sarcasm reveals. Of course, it’s directed at me – the bigger, bulkier but-not-so-much-butchier one I guess with the insecurity chip on her shoulders. Why am I the “Daddy”? I’m the one who does the dishes. I’m the one who gets flowers on Valentine’s Day. It was such a catharsis in my life the day my wife asked me to marry her with a beautiful diamond engagement ring complete with a rainbow of precious stones around the band. She gave me back something that day I didn’t realize I’d lost – my sexuality – and boy do I fill the part! I’m the one who wants to stay up all night when we fight if we have to in order to “talk things out.” I’m the milder disciplinarian. They ask me when they want lollipops for breakfast, and they occasionally get it! My wife? She’s the breadwinner. She makes the big decisions. It’s Ema who charts the family’s course through this world. So why does he look up and curiously decide to call me “Daddy”? She probably wouldn’t mind. This just goes against the narrative of us that I’d designed.
I’m calm though. I’m a New York City public high school teacher – I can handle anything! I ignore it. I ignore it the second time – the third – the fourth. We call this “Planned ignoring”. Anyone know how to make God laugh? The first day I survive. The second is when I start losing some sleep. By the third, I’m consulting Facebook lesbian mommies and our MTM group (Modern Tribal Momas) for advice. Has anybody experienced this before? Has everybody survived? What are the causes? What are the cures? I don’t get too far. God blessed this lesbian couple quickly ahead of all our friends with not one but two …boys. Here I am yet again adrift in a sea of uncharted waters. This is not unlike my whole adolescence!
One night, it dawns on me to explore his reading library that we began back when we had the luxury of such time and idealism in college. I’m all too quick to pass up “Heather Has Two Mommies” falsely dismissing it due to the stereotypically butchie carpenter mom and feeling averse to bring linked with that association. My insecurity already steers me away from the other mother’s role of “Doctor”. I find another title in our diversity collection: “Do I have a Daddy?” and wind up in a pinch reading that to my son. While his eyes were wide with interest and we read together with wild presence we were both disappointed by that mother ‘s loose retort to her son’s inquiry about why Daddy just left them. The only wisdom that mom had to offer my son and I was that she “didn’t know” but that she loved him and that was all that mattered blah, blah, blah…
It turns out that a mixture of i-g-n-o-r-e, another look at (and nightly ritual read) of “Heather Has Two Mommies”, and some genuine one-on-one chats have thankfully nudged this “Daddy” stage into a phase of the past. I’m not sure that I went about this the proper way, and there is plenty to be said about the need for some quality children’s literature on this subject, but I can tell you that I am “Mom” again. This was compounded just the other day when a song about moms was being sung on television. I snuggled up around him and he leaned back against me in such a way that I felt we’d successfully settled the issue, and he’s been waking me up with a special smile and a “Good morning Mom” that is truly the best part of my waking up! Each time he says the word “Mom” now it seems to be with renewed conviction. I know the subject will once again arise in our lives and as they get older they’ll demand deeper and deeper explanations of all sorts of issues, but for now I feel pride in the fact that I’ve dealt with our first direct same-sex parenting issue and survived to tell the tale. Thank God I managed to navigate this one with my natural genitals in tacked. Who knows what could be threatened next time!
Read more of Ali Polizzi through her blog, www.alirothlizzi.blogspot.com/?m=1
Photo courtesy of Ali Polizzi