The light clicks off and the word jumps from Brase’s mouth, “Mommy!” A picture sits on his bedside table. The frame mostly goes unnoticed but it’s a wonderful stall tactic. He grabs the frame and points to each of us while saying our names, “Papi’, Mommy, Daddy and Brase.” He draws each name out with multiple syllables. He is well aware that this will buy him a few extra minutes before he’s tucked into bed. The word mommy is far removed from my son’s world. I don't think he understands the correlation between the word and the woman in the picture.
Brase's Mommy has seen her son 4 times in the last 29 months. That's not enough to make a lasting impression or trusting bond. The relationship Brase has with his Mother is nonexistent. We have encouraged her to visit and even offered transportation. At one point, we made many attempts to visit her. As time continues to unfold, our offers go unacknowledged.
As he runs towards me he says, “Mommy, Mommy!” It currently happens once or twice a week. This might be unsettling for some fathers but it meaningless to me. At this age, toddlers mimic every sound as if they are mynah birds. Brase also occasionally calls me monkey but that does not equate to me having a tail.
It’s hard for me to get my arms around gender roles. I am a parent and I do whatever it takes to care for my son. I play the staring roles of daddy, mommy and everything in-between.
I hope, as my son grows, he knows his Mother loves him. It’s not a love based on history or attachment. Her life is complicated and she loves him the only way she knows how. Ultimately, she loved him enough to give him a better life. That is a true testament to the word love.