I reluctantly agreed to do this because they all love and miss her, but for me it was a torturous decision. I knew she would be taken care of physically, but my fears lied in the worry of something happening to her, or that she would get scared and I am not around to comfort her, or any of a hundred other things. My biggest fear lies firmly in reality and has been demonstrated over and over this week. This fear was that my family would treat me like the weekend distant Dad.
“MY DAUGHTER IS MY LIFEBLOOD AND MY NUMBER ONE THOUGHT IN EVERYTHING I DO, SO IT ANGERS ME TO NO ENDS TO BE MARGINALIZED BY MY FAMILY.”
I have been Ailani’s sole caregiver since she was 10 months old. No matter how many times they see me kissing booboos, making sure she has on clean clothes and her hair is brushed, spending every waking hour with her that I am not working, and making sure she is eating healthy food, they have always viewed me as a dismissive Dad. My daughter is my lifeblood and my number one thought in everything I do, so it angers me to no ends to be marginalized by my family. I hear things like “Thank God your Aunt is in her life so she has a mother figure” or “It is just a ten day trip” or “You will never understand a mother’s love for her children”, “We love her just as much as you do.” I am sorry but someone who sees my daughter on a biweekly basis for a few hours is not a mother figure in her life. As for it just being a ten day trip, this is the longest and most agonizing time I have ever been away from her since she was born. I find myself feeling guilty when I get caught in the moment and start enjoying a play or dinner out while she is so far away. I look at her baby doll in the cradle were she left it and tear up every day. It makes me sad to make everyone’s lunch in the morning and her lunch box is sitting empty.
I was born with a penis and somehow in society this means I am unloving and distant. Somehow a woman who adopts a child or an Aunt who never had a child can know a mother’s love but for someone that was born with a penis that is impossible. All day I check my messages and phone for calls and see nothing. I talk myself into not calling because I want them to have fun, but I long for the random pic of her at the movies or playing in the pool. Every night at 8:30 I get impatient and call to talk to her but no effort is made by them to make sure I am updated on her trip.
“ONCE I CAME OUT, PEOPLE WOULD LOOK AT ME AND TELL ME HOW I WILL NEVER BE A REAL MOM AND WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MOTHER.”
Before I was out I used to have people come up and tell me how proud they were that I was taking care of my child. I would get disgusted at the idea that in our society engaged parenting is considered abnormal. Once I came out, people would look at me and tell me how I will never be a real mom and will never understand what it means to be a mother. Yet somehow and in some way I like thousands of others know what it is like to love a child more than you love yourself. I know what it is like to feel the emptiness when you are separated from them even for a few hours. No one in this world is capable of missing her more than I do or loving her as much as I do.