Friday, September 30, 2011


"I know you don't like spiders, but you do most the guy stuff and well, you're like the Daddy-Mom." Isaac was 6 or 7 at the time, and like many children of same sex parenting he was trying to figure out how his family fit into the big picture of family being taught at school.  He'd called me in to the bathroom to kill the spider.  I have a true phobia of spiders and often am physically ill at the sight of one. But like a good Daddy-Mom, I pulled in my queasy gut and killed the spider - three times.  Spiders must be killed three times and flushed down the toilet for me to believe they are truly dead.

Like many households, gay or straight, the chores and duties are divided according to individual strengths and likes.  I really enjoy fixing things and the boys believe I can fix anything.  I like that.  My boys believe in me.  Nichole likes to put things together and most of the "assembly required" projects go to her, but I am the fixer.  Please keep in mind, that fixing things often involves the discovery of three new related projects and two extra days of frustration - like the tilted door in the rebuilt door frame.  Like the chores, other aspects of parenting come more natural to one or the other of us.

Nichole is the first sought out for light injuries - she is more nurturing.  Big injuries are usually handled by me as directed by her on the way to the hospital.  Nichole is the first sought out for the "I wants" because the boys believe her the easier mark.  In a way she is.  I tend to say "no" for the sake of "no" and have been called to the carpet by her.  Even Isaac, when explaining the shotgun under the bed told me "well, you know how sometimes you just say 'no' before I'm even done asking the question...?" knows that sometimes I am just feeling contrary.  Although we both issue disciplinary orders, mine are often much harsher than Nichole's. She thinks ahead to the big picture of parental survival, while I tend to issue ultimatums on the fly.

Because I am the Daddy-Mom I have a certain appreciation for boys. I am the one they want to share all their bugs with.  I have held their giant worms ( the tomato horn worm frequents my plants) and let snails creep across my palm.  I am proud of Isaac's good taste (at age 10) of bikini clad women, despite the fact he subscribed to a phone service called Bikini Babes and downloaded the pictures to a phone he wasn't supposed to have. Although I am a woman, I look forward to the "talk" and have made a safe enough place that he and his brothers can ask me, or Nichole if preferred.  But I have also let them know that Uncle Craig is available too.  I look forward to teaching them all to drive - with the trepidation of knowing the statistics of young boy drivers.  I look forward to being at their sports events. Nichole does too, but she fears the football years.  I encourage Nathan to fight back against Austin at times, when words aren't working and Austin is arbitrarily seeking Nathan as a victim. I am proud of them all and know we have done well.

Last night Isaac came to me in all earnestness to talk with me privately.  I immediately dropped what I was doing - to prove I thought his need was important - and joined him in my room with the door closed.  I was expecting questions about girls - the bikini episode was only a few days ago. Instead, he had a heavy heart and was seeking advice on changing some of his bad behaviors.  I like to believe he came to me because I am the harder disciplinarian and he truly wants us to get along.  He knows how much I love him, that is a given but there are times when I can tell he is seeking my approval.  He wants to make amends after an argument by asking me to wear my pajamas that most closely match his.  He wants me to dress up for church because he is going to wear his tie and dress up instead of the usual shorts and t-shirt.  He wants me to coach him with the interest of the moment.  He wants Nichole to teach and nurture. Although I am the primary cook, it is Nichole who helps him cook his own breakfast or do his own laundry.  It is Nichole who helps with the technology and the homework.  It is Nichole who goes to school with him and volunteers in the classroom. Isaac, despite his troubles, is a well rounded boy who will grow to have a great appreciation for the women in his life. He will be balanced and able to assist when his wife is overwhelmed. Isaac will know that although there are traditional roles in every household, those roles can be interchanged at any given time and nothing is truly "all the guy stuff or all the woman stuff."  For now, this Daddy-Mom is quite content with the title as it really does describe the interchanging roles of running a household.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

She Will Forever Be My Baby Sister

Just I was beginning to worry, our father asked me the question: "Have you heard from your sister lately?"  I hadn't and that was unusual.  We regularly text each other if for no other reason than to just say "hi." Dad hadn't heard from her in several weeks. She moved in with a new boyfriend that we don't know. Her phone was disconnected and no one had heard from her since.  What else could I do but fear the worse?

Years ago Anna married and moved across the country to Florida. It was a strategic move that benefited their financial circumstances.  By the time they divorced, Anna had a good government job with benefits and stability. She was now  nearing her 40's and finally rooted.  We encouraged her, even begged her to come home where she has family but for the first time in her life (by my reasoning) she was finally standing on her own. She went several years without a steady beau. She lived alone, not relying on roommates to make ends meet and she grew tremendous spirit.  Yet at times, I could hear the sadness.  I worried.

I was never quite clear where Anna worked.  She kept telling me it was the prosecutor's office but when I would ask "District Attorney?" she would respond "No... I think I work for the State."  That is Anna in a nutshell "I think..." So when Dad asked about her, and I was already beginning to wonder why my texts had gone unanswered (stupid me I never did just  call ) I jumped to a lot fear that is based on my expertise in domestic violence.
  •  Who is this new boyfriend she's only known for a few months? I only know his first name.
  • She sure moved in quickly by my standards
  • She talks about him like he is "too good to be true."
  • Communications are now cut off.
  • What if she never updated her emergency contacts after the divorce? I assume her ex is still on the form since they are amicable and he is local.
These are just a few of the signs and certainly not definite indicators of domestic violence, but of course I am suspicious of anyone I don't know and I am certain she's suffered from D.V. in a previous relationship prior to her marriage.

Dad and I emailed back and forth a couple times about how to track her down. We'd lost contact with her ex, who was my first choice and we still didn't really know where she works. That was on Friday just before our Labor Day weekend. Tracking government offices would have to wait until Tuesday.

Yesterday morning as, as soon as I was able, I began searching.  Let me back up a moment and mention that by the end of the weekend I was under a lot of unrelated personal stress.  Okay, so I began by Googling for the District Attorney nearest where she lives. DOH! There is no such thing as a District Attorney in her area. The closest I found was the Public Defender.  They would know who to hook me up with. I called and explained my urgent need to contact my "missing sister" and was transferred to the City Attorney.  They never heard of my sister but transferred me to the Broward County Clerks Office.  They never heard of my sister and by now I was starting to panic.

"I don't know. She works for the District Attorney... or your equivalent in the clerk's office. She's missing! We haven't heard from her in weeks... she calls our dad every week!"  At that point whoever I was talking to went into calm-down mode.  I was sobbing "hff FFF  fff FFFF" you know... huffing and unable to breathe sobs.  The clerk figured out that I needed the STATE attorney's office.

One thing I did know was that Anna had recently been promoted from "front desk" to some other division in the actual office. She is never clear about details with us.  So the front desk clerk answered and I began again, by first asking for her by name. That drew a blank.  I kept at it in-between huffs. I gave both her married and maiden name in case the phone tree hadn't been updated. Again, I was met with a very calm and understanding voice who assured me she would find my sister. DOH! "The only Anna I can find is Anna..."

"Wait, I think I know who you are talking about." A glimmer of comfort.  Several huffs and stopped breaths later she told me "OH I found her! I am going to transfer you straight to her desk!" My baby sister has her own phone line?

"State Attorney's Office, this is Susie" WHERE THE HELL IS MY SISTER?  Now I was beginning to fear the worse... had she not been to work for a while and they didn't know who to contact? Could she really be missing?

After sifting through my now hysterical crying, Susie assured me that Anna was just away from her desk and that she was fine. Susie even went on to tell me that she'd met James and he was a "great guy." I left a message Anna to call me or Dad. But the story doesn't end here.

After learning that Sis was OK, I went back to desk to immediately email Dad.  DOH! Right there in my in- box was an email dated a day earlier with his message that Anna had finally called him for the holiday and he'd gotten her new number, address and full name of the boyfriend. Should I be laughing or crying? While I was composing myself, and my email, Anna called me.... now frantic herself because the message she received was "your sister called here. She was crying hysterically!"  Now I'm back in tears... well, no... I was still in tears before she called, huffing in sobs while my Baby Sister, sounding more mature than she ever has, is trying to calm me down enough to learn that Dad is fine, I am fine and assuredly she is fine.

One day, maybe, I will tell you all what F.I.N.E. really means.