Parenting is an obstacle course and, that night, we hurdled over sulking and fell right into a muddy pit of anger. We climbed the wall of raised voices and then dropped into a pool of tears. We crawled on our hands and knees through a sheet metal tunnel of disappointment that left us emotionally bloodied. Somehow, the rope swing of remorse carried us ever forward until we collapsed at the finish line with nothing left but the uneasy silence that remains after such a night. We had all behaved badly but had reached a fragile peace. We needed sleep. We needed a respite from words. I went into Miguel’s room to turn off the light and kiss him one more time. I sat on the edge of his bed but he was listening to his iPod and didn’t turn to look at me. I felt my anger rise once more and I tapped him on the shoulder impatiently. He took off his headphones and looked at me. “I love you”, I said. He sighed, dropped his head and said, “I need to say something and I don’t want you to take it personally…” I pursed my lips in anticipation of the dance remix version of all that had occurred earlier in the evening – “Go ahead”, I said with little generosity. He looked at me and said, “Sometimes, it is hard being the only boy in a family of girls. It’s like boys’ and girls’ brains work differently and, sometimes, I feel like you don’t get me.” His words were like water on the last glowing embers of my anger and my heart ached. Everything that I believed prior to having kids was in direct contradiction to what he was saying and yet I knew he was right.
My mother didn’t want me to have children. Among her many reasons was the fact that she believed a boy with two mothers would carry an unfair burden. I disagreed then and, despite the challenges, I disagree now. I make no apologies. I made none to my son that night and chose to make promises instead. I promised to remember his words, to carry his perspective with me always, to honor our differences and to listen. I pulled him onto my lap, an increasingly difficult move as he gets older. I held him to my chest and kissed the top of his head, his messy hair tickling my face. He held on to me and said, “I wouldn’t change anything, you know. I love you guys.” I wouldn’t change anything either - we’re doing just fine.