I always figured there were certain hateful statements that my sons would make, especially ones that say I am inadequate. Such statements would come out in the future, during some angsty teenage scrap as I'm laying down the law and they're going for my jugular. My sister told me once, "If your kids don't shout out that they hate you at least a few times, then you aren't doing it right." Up until now, no such shout-out has occurred.
But one of the statements I feared was finally delivered, though it did not come as part of a calculated gotcha exchange. It came at the worst possible moment.
It was Thanksgiving evening, and dinner at my sister's house was almost ready. We were preparing to get to the table when my younger son appeared in the dining room and announced, "Jason just threw up!" I rushed upstairs to find my 10-year-old son crying over a mess that smelled like rancid juice.
I rushed him to the nearby bathroom as the stomach convulsions continued, and we experienced one of what would be many rounds of this illness episode. It was a horrible event, because there was nothing I could do for him but hold him while his body expelled the contents of his stomach. He cried and gasped and tried to recover.
"I am so so sorry," I whispered as his body tensed again.
"I want my mommy," he cried out, bursting into tears!
Several things went through my mind. My son is hypoglycemic, and when his blood sugar drops, he becomes completely irrational until food is back in his system This effect is exacerbated by his hypersensitivity, which is a result of having been exposed to heroin in the womb. He was already hungry, given that we were about to have dinner, and now his system was even more depleted. However, his comment was still concerning, because there is no such person in his life, nor has there ever been. He has been in my arms since he was 4 days old and weighed 4 lbs. There was a birth mother, but she was not a "mommy" and has never been there for him.
I tried to ignore the comment, and I pet him gently. I had to say something, though, and I heard myself muttering, "You have a daddy, and I am here, boo."
He looked up and cried, "But you aren't my mom!"
Now I was at the emotional edge. It is horrible being in a situation in which you want to care for your child but are completely helpless, but then to be marked as inadequate, as well, was too much for me.
"You have a dad, boo, not a mom," I said. "I do all your mom things for you. A mom just does what I do but would be a girl. I am your mom. Try to relax. You will feel better in a minute."
He looked at me again and cried out, "I want Papa!" Papa is my ex and was my co-parent for the boys. He chose to keep his distance from us over the past year.
"Oh, great," I thought sarcastically. "That is so much better. Kill me. Just kill me now."
The fact was that nothing could magically give my son comfort in that moment. I was not going to be able to make that happen. He knew it, and I knew it, and in his hypoglycemic irrationality he was lashing out in any way his mind could muster.
For him, the discomfort would ease in a few hours, his body would get peaceful, and he would sink into my embraces. He would feel safe, back in control and tired. For me, the drama would continue: My younger son also got hit with the illness, so my new partner Jim took care of one child in one bathroom while I took care of the other child in another bathroom. I ended up spending a sleepless night, at times with both kids at the toilet bowl, praying for some inspiration that would help me put an end to their misery. But I knew it just had to run its course.
The entire adventure is now a thing for our family history book, under "Thanksgiving Disasters," but still I felt the nagging residual pang of sadness over my son's declaration. I finally talked to him recently, and the conversation affirmed that he is not feeling that he is lacking anything with only male parents in our family.
"Where did that idea come from?" I asked.
He explained that one of his school friends talks to him "in private" and tries to tell him that he needs his "real" mother, and this friend has tried to get him on sites to "find" her. This same friend is also convinced that my son has Asian heritage and has been urging him to research that. Even if my son were truly interested, it is a useless exercise. He is Mexican; we know where his ancestors come from and have studied them. I have pictures of his birth mother and am in contact with her family. She is not at a computer or anywhere to be found or communicated with; she is still on the streets, and his birth father is in prison.
Those who oppose gay marriage and gay families decry the pro-gay socialization of the children of gay parents and cite this as their chief concern around the issue. In my opinion, the pro-gay side too often capitulates and assures our opponents that no such socialization is mandated or desired. Meanwhile, those with an anti-gay agenda double down and hit back harder with their own propaganda. This inspires children, like this friend of my son, to attempt to undermine the love we have in our families, with complete and utter disregard for the consequences of their actions. I do not believe that children of all ages should be privy to the intimate details of adult relationships, but they do need enough information to know that many family structures exist, thrive and are equal to their own. Children should know that the fact that one child has a female parent whom they love does not mean that another child's male parent is not equally worthwhile.
As it turns out, despite not having a female parent in the house, both my sons are fully content and grounded. They have their daddy, and according to them, that is good enough.