"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.