For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a mom.
The day my mother told me I’d soon have a sibling, I was about to turn 4, and I made my own announcement. I’m going to have 5 children, I told her: two boys, two girls, and one who was like me: a boy who wasn’t really a boy, but looked like one.
“You can’t have babies, silly,” she told me.
I remember crying myself to sleep that night, not understanding what was wrong with me that I couldn’t have babies.
Those memories came flooding back when I assumed the mantle of mom last year, upon the death of my wife. Maybe I shouldn’t say, “wife;” she preferred the term “spouse,” ever since my gender transition from male to female.
But I remained “Dad.” And she will always be their mom.
For close to two decades, we had been husband and wife, mother and father. But we blurred traditional gender roles. I breastfed our youngest and took our daughter bra shopping; she assembled furniture, mowed the lawn and operated the power tools.
She also cooked. And cleaned. And organized. She drove our kids all over town and taught Sunday School.
Their mom’s cancer forced me to step up like I never had before, and it still wasn’t enough. I should have done so much more.
And now that is what I do, day in and day out, as a widow, as a single dad doing the job of mom, and as a work-from-home parent.
The challenge of being a mom called “Dad” is recognizing how much more I could have done before all this fell solely on my shoulders, and how much I treasure having this responsibility: the hardest job I’ve ever loved.
But no way am I having two more babies.
Dawn Ennis is host of “RiseUP,” a talk show on YouTube, as well as a blogger, writer, and editor. She is a widow who does the job of “mom” to 3 kids who call her “Dad.” Follow her @lifeafterdawn on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.