Well, I made it. 2016 is almost here and a few months ago, I wasn’t even confident I’d make it this far. By goddammit, I did, and I plan to be here for many years—decades—to come!
On this day a year ago, if you told me what the new year would bring me, I would never believe you. If you told me I would be moving from Tennessee to California, that I’d become a father, and that I’d survive cancer… No way. I’d say you had me confused with someone else. There’s no way that would be my life you were describing. But it was, and it is.
As we say goodbye to another year, I am thankful for the love and support of family, and friends, and even the kindness of strangers, who have touched my life in some way and helped me on this journey.
I’m excited to begin a new year with a fresh perspective, and I really hate to say it… But please, please let this just be a boring year. I just want to live in the Golden State in peace and good health with my husband and son, and other then the excitement of watching our little baby grow up, I hope there are no major events to report a year from now.
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night.
Our baby boy is very charming and social. He loves to smile and coo at people when he meets them, and he’s good with eye contact. My heart swells with pride every time someone comments on how sweet he is.
In the midst of all this huggable, kissable sweetness, Daniel and I have noticed that a lot of women speak variations of these phrases:
– “Ooh, he’s going to be a lady killer.”
– “He sure is going to break a lot of girls’ hearts someday.”
– “Awww, he’s found himself a little girlfriend.” (Spoken if he merely looks in the general direction of a baby girl.)
Huh? Our baby sometimes falls asleep face down in a pool of his own drool. In his spare time, he enjoys laughing at his own farts. I’m not sure he’s advanced enough for people to start making assumptions about his love life.
I realize no harm is intended, but we think it’s kind of creepy. Let’s start with the fact that he really is just a baby. He’s still discovering his feet, and I’m skeptical that he has any romantic notions about the little girl in the stroller next to him.
The other thing that’s so surprising is the assumption that he likes girls. How would you know if he likes girls or boys—or both? It will still be years before we know that. Yet even as a baby, he’s already being conditioned about what the “correct” attraction is. Boys are supposed to like girls. That’s the way you’re supposed to be, little guy. If you feel differently, there must be something wrong with you.
I was surprised that assumptions were made this young about children. It made me wonder what effect that had on me, and if my childhood could have been a little bit easier if every stranger I met didn’t try to remind me I was supposed to like girls.
My earliest memory of liking a boy was somewhere around age 5. I don’t remember much, but I know I wanted to hold his hand, and I distinctly recall the feeling that I was wrong to want that. I’ve often wondered how I could have such internal guilt at such a young age. Now that we’ve witnessed what people say to our son, it all makes sense. No wonder the LGBT community has such a difficult time with our childhoods! Look at how young we start being shaped by the expectations of others.
Let’s look at things from another angle. Say I’ve just met a straight couple and their baby boy. I look at their son and say, “Aww, he sure is going to break a lot of boys’ hearts.” Or maybe better yet, I’d say, “Oh, I think he’s going to be my son’s first boyfriend!”
I don’t care how liberal the other couple was—if they were straight—I suspect most of them would act shocked and offended. How dare I make assumptions about their son! How dare I imply he’s gay! I must be pushing my homosexual agenda onto their child.
Oh, but wait. Wouldn’t it be fair for me to say they were pushing a heterosexual agenda on our son? They’d find some reason to disagree. “It’s not the same,” they’d argue. Things would probably erode pretty quickly from there.
Bottom line: Let’s stop assuming the sexual orientation of children. It’s pretty ridiculous. If a child is gay, you’re only going to make it more difficult for him to “come out” because it goes against the social cues he’s observed since the day he was born. Let’s be neutral and inclusive of all children, and stop worrying about who they’ll date when they’re older.
“As a gay dad, do you ever get harassed for raising your child without a mom?”
That’s a popular question many gay dads are asked, and my answer is YES—but we’re not harassed by the people you’d expect.
So far, we’ve never encountered any problems from straight people. When we’re out with our son, it’s very common for strangers to ask us, “Are you his dads?”. We always smile and tell them yes, and they say something nice, such as, “Well he’s so cute” or “Congratulations guys.” Heterosexual strangers have always been very supportive of us.
But within the gay community, it’s a different story. At some point, almost all of our friends have made a joke about one of us breastfeeding, or called one of us “mom.” Some friends are persistent about it too, teasing us almost every time we see them. (Time to get new friends, perhaps?)
This is an ongoing problem that many gay dads deal with. If you go to any gay parenting forum, you’ll find that a lot of men report the problem, and really hate it. We have a dream to be fathers and it may take years to accomplish. When we finally get there, we just want to enjoy the title of “Dad”, and yet the people who are supposed to be part of our own community want to force a maternal stereotype onto us.
Two men really are raising a baby—without a mom. We’re not “playing house” or being “mom substitutes.” We’re two dads.
I’m working on clear and concise ways to convey the point to gay people when they make a mom joke. When you have a baby there in your arms, usually squirming or grabbing nearby objects, it can be a challenge to make a firm point to someone. This will be a work in progress.
Yesterday was Father’s Day (or in our case, the plural, Fathers’ Day) and it was our first one celebrating as a family with our baby. It was very rewarding and humbling to wake up knowing we’re parents. Daniel and I had a good day with our son.
Over the past month, our baby has been working on learning to laugh. He’d made “laugh-ish” sounds a couple of times. Well this week, he finally made a breakthrough and had a full-on gigglefest with Daniel and me. It was so rewarding to hear his sweet laughter for the first time.
Check out the video below:
I’m not sure where the last few months have gone, but winter seems to have faded into spring, the trees and flowers bloomed, and in the blink of an eye, our son has grown from a tiny, sleepy newborn into an active, talkative little boy.
As I write this, he’s on his play mat, cooing up a conversation and practicing his grip with his rattles. He can’t speak words yet, but he is learning how to express how he feels. He recognizes faces and acknowledges us when we talk to him.
It was an indescribable feeling the first time he responded to my voice. I said his name, he turned his head and looked right at me and smiled. He knew his daddy was talking to him. He captures our hearts in new ways every day.
I guess I need to come up with a way to reference him on my blog. I don’t feel comfortable using his name. I don’t know if it matters, but I don’t want to share it (at least not yet). So I’m going to just call him “niño,” which is Spanish for “boy.” It has a nice sound to it.
Daniel and I are enjoying Daddyhood with our little Niño. He’s sleeping through the night now, so we’re not sleep deprived anymore. And we’re enjoying the journey of finding out who this little person is growing up to become.
That’s the latest news from our home.
Recently a friend was holding our baby and taking pictures. This was his response:
Yep, definitely our son.
We’re settling in with our new little addition to the family. The first few days were long, but he’s becoming more consistent with feeding times. He still likes to sleep all day, then cry all night. We’re working on that. Life is good, sleep is rare, but we’re filled with love and my heart skips a beat when I look at him and realize he’s ours.
It was another day of being childless.
I was feeling particularly pessimistic about the future prospect of us ever having a child. Daniel and I had been working with adoption agencies for three years out of the five years we’d been together.
“I think God’s lost our address,” I said to Daniel. “This has gone on forever. Do you realize we’ve spent over half of our marriage trying to start a family? Maybe it’s just not in the cards for us. Maybe we should just give up and accept our fate. We can start focusing on life with just the two of us. Take all the money we’ll save and travel the world. Be extravagant. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be for us. Not every couple is meant to have children.”
With sad eyes, Daniel nodded. He’d been wondering the same thing.
Then a phone call came, and everything changed. A newborn baby boy was waiting at the hospital for us. Our dream had come true.
We’re so happy with our little guy. Our hearts are filled with love. The adventure is just beginning and we’re ready for the ride.