A column for Mother’s Day from me on the op/ed page of the Sunday New York Times:
What Makes a Mother? Suffering!
by Jennifer Finney Boylan
One day, toward the end of my transition from father to mother, I came home to find my 6-year-old son looking thoughtful. “Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yes,” Sean said quietly. He was playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. His favorite engine was No. 5, red James. That had also been my name, back before it became Jenny.
“What are you thinking?”
“It’s just it used to be you and me and Zach, the three boys on one side,” he said, “and Mommy and Lucy-dog on the other.”
“I know,” I said, feeling my heart clench.
“Now it’s Zach and me on one side, and you and Mommy and Lucy-dog over there.”
“I’m sorry, Sean,” I said. My voice was barely a whisper. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s O.K.,” said Sean. “The boys are just outnumbered.”
I have been a dad for 6 years, a mom for 12, and for a time in between I was both, or neither, like some parental version of the schnoodle or the cockapoo.
When I was their father, I showed my boys how to make a good tomato sauce; as their mother I showed them how to split wood with a maul. As a father, I was more playful. I used to, for instance, cover my sons’ feet with peanut butter and let the dogs lick it off, as the boys screamed with laughter.
I don’t do things like that anymore, although… (click here for the rest of the column).