Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Letting go of being mommy

I was daddy. Opposite me was mommy. We did this together.

Then mommy died. I was utterly lost. I knew how to be daddy, but I didn't know how to be mommy too.

And I had a three year old girl who wanted a mommy. Her mommy.

I couldn't give her her mommy.

So I tried to learn to be both mommy and daddy.

I did hair (badly). I bought clothes (better). I listened. I empathized. I held her.

I learned.

And I also still played tackle with her, tickled her, and threw her up in the air and caught her.

And the Mother's Days came and went and the Father's Days came and they went and I celebrated them both with my daughter.

Because I WAS both.

I'm reminded of a time, a bedtime, when Rowan was particularly sad. I tried to comfort her, but wasn't getting very far. Then I remembered how Aimee used to comfort Rowan, and so I asked Rowan, "would you like me to rock you in the rocking chair?" Her face lit up as she crawled into my lap. She rested her head on my chest, and relaxed into me as I gently stroked her hair, kissing her gently on the top of her head. When I placed her back into her bed a few minutes later, she was already asleep.

I pulled the covers up, and kissed her one last time on her head. Although asleep, she smiled a big smile of a child who's loved and secure.

I knew I was mom to her in that moment.

And then...

A new woman came into our lives. Shyly at first. Slowly to be sure.

But now there is love for her and love from her, and soon she will be a formal part of our family.

She will become... mommy. Rowan has already begun to start seeing her as such.


A part of me is sad to let go of being mommy. I took such intense pride in doing both and doing them well. On picture days when my daughter looked amazing, I felt like a good 'mom'. When advising her on managing relationships with her friends, I felt like a good 'mom'. And when bringing baked goods for her class events or fundraisers, I felt like a good 'mom' (and a bad cook).

Consoling her late at night while she cried big tears, missing her mommy, I felt inadequate. But we can't ever win them all.

I have been daddy and mommy. But if my daughter is to have a MOMMY mommy again, I have to let this new part of our family BE mommy.

I have to let go of being mommy.

It's not easy. I want to hold on to keep close to all I have taken on. I proved I could do it, and now I don't want to stop.

But I must. For my daughter. For her new mommy. I have to let go. Well, maybe mostly let go.

I have to let go of being mommy.

I will be daddy. Opposite me will be a mommy again. We'll do this together.

PS. To be clear, the stuff I described as 'mom' stuff can and often is just as much within a dad's role. Dads can cuddle and soothe and bake, and they should do those things. It just happened in my and Aimee's life that we each took on fairly stereotypical gender roles, so the stuff I mentioned as 'mom' stuff had been the types of things Aimee had done for and with Rowan prior to her death. We have definitely made efforts to raise Rowan with the notion that most activities don't 'belong' to a specific gender.


  1. Pat, to me, this is just further proof of God's character - that both men and women are made in the image of God and reflect those different ways of showing love to those around us. No doubt that you have grown into a more nuanced reflection of God's love. Blessings on the journey, Rachael

  2. Pat every since Aimee's terrible/horrible untimely passing, you have done an amazing job at being both mommy and daddy. Before the new addition to your already made family, you took on both mom and dad. On Rowan's good days you were there for her with open arms. And especially at night, the hard times for her you were there as both mom and dad, to console and comfort her. You were have been always will be there for her in the ways that Sarah can not. I am sure she is doing an amazing job with Rowan, but there will always be times when Rowan needs her "MOMMY", and that is where you will be there for her in ways no one else can. I am sure you are the only one that can ever do the mommy voice that she loves so much. She will have her good days and her bad days, but that is where you and the new addition Sarah will be there to comfort and console her, wipe her tears and cheer her on. You are doing an amazing job at raising a wonderful little girl.

  3. Thanks for this post, Pat. I get it and I appreciate it. All the best to you, Rowan, and Sarah.

    1. All the best to you as well, Anne. I hope things are going well.

  4. I think you are an excellent daddy/mommy/daddy and Sarah will only multiply that! love you! Marla