New Posts!

Times Square, Dora, Minnie MouseI have a new post up today at Lifetime Moms, called “Don’t Go There!: 5 Places You Should Never Take Your Kids”. This one is heavy on the snark and extra-judgey. Hooray!

I’ve also been reposted at Scary Mommy, who shares my 10 Biggest Secrets I Keep From My Kids post. You may have already read it here, but you should still go check out her site because there’s a ton of awesome, hilarious stuff there.

My Poopiest Post Ever (You’ve Been Warned!)

sink, water, tea cup, spongebob soapAs I’m cleaning up after breakfast, I smell poop.

This is never a good thing.

I follow the scent to the bathroom. Poop is everywhere. In the potty, in the toilet, on Bennett’s bare butt, but also places poop shouldn’t be, like — well, everywhere else.

Usually, when Bennett has to poop, he first runs through the house shouting, “I need to POOOOOOOP!!!” This time, for whatever reason, he tried to do it all on his own.

And then, even worse, he tried to clean it up on his own.

I should mention that Bennett’s poops are roughly 1/2 the size of his body and this one is particularly — well, mushy.

He’s now standing on the stepstool trying to wash poop down the sink with a tiny plastic cup from a toy tea set. He fills it from the faucet, then dumps it on top of some brown part of the sink.

“It’s OK, buddy. I’ll do it,” I say.

“No,” he insists, “I’ll be faster than you.”

He fills his cup. He dumps it. He fills his cup. He dumps it.

Poop is everywhere.

I start wiping his butt and legs. How does this little boy produce such an enormous mount of crap?

Sutton has been running around like a maniac, entertaining herself. She appears in the doorway. “You know who’s the jolliest man who visited our house?” she shouts.

“Who?”

“Santa!”

Then she runs into a bedroom and closes the door.

Past Posts Revisited: How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, by a Gay Parent

therealthingnews-com-au

I’m always happy when someone reposts my piece How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, by a Gay Parent. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve posted here, and I tend to hear back some really amazing things as well as gain some super cool new followers every time it gets spread to some other corner of the internet.

Previously, the piece was featured on sites like the Today Show, Lifetime Moms and the Good Men Project. Just this week, two more very popular sites reblogged it, garnering it a bunch of fresh traffic. First, it ran on one of my favorite parenting blogs, Scary Mommy. If you don’t already know Scary Mommy, you should go there right now. It’s full of hilarity, top-notch writing and all kinds of wonderful things.

Scary Mommy has amazing readers, who’ve so far shared my post almost 10,000 times on Facebook(!) One person who read it over there works for the popular Australian news site News.com.au, and she asked if she could rerun it on that site as well.

They apparently put it on the front page, which brought it a lot of attention. If you read the comments on that site, you’ll see the response was not quite as positive as it’s been on other sites. I have no idea if News.com.au’s readership leans conservative or if this is representative of how most people Down Under view families like mine. Either way, I’m really grateful they ran my post because I’d rather this topic be discussed than ignored, and at least I put the subject in a few people’s minds.

My original piece wasn’t intended to defend my family or to convert homophobes. (For that, try this post instead.) It was aimed at sympathetic straight parents. However, to the detractors on news.com.au and elsewhere, I’ll say this:

Families with gay parents aren’t going away. You can say “Every child needs a mother and a father” all you want, but at some point, you’ll need to accept that you live in a world where not every child is going to have one. They might have none — or two. The only family you get to assemble is your own. Do with it what you will. You can either try to live peacefully with those who make different choices or remain cranky and increasingly isolated. You can tsk, tsk and say “Those poor kids,” but your pity and bigotry does more to harm my children than having two dads who think they’re the greatest kids in the world ever could.

I’ve read plenty of comments, on the other hand, that made valid criticisms. In the hopes that my piece will continue to be shared, I’ve decided to do a few minor revisions to take those into account.

The first is my mockery of the word “queer” in this line from the original piece:

You could also use the word “queer”, I guess, but then your kids and I will just think you’re a pretentious dweeb.

Most people, even those who self-identify as “queer” seem to have taken it as the harmless joke it was meant to be. Others took serious offense, and that’s something I never intended. The theme of the piece is tolerance and inclusiveness, and if anyone felt slighted by that line, I apologize. I admit my impression of the word “queer” as being pretentious dweebery is probably 20 years out of date. People self-identify as “queer” for a variety of very valid personal reasons, and I don’t want to make light of that.

I’ve removed that joke from the post. The Brainy Smurf joke is a better closer anyway.

Second, a few people have taken issue with me saying, “Every child ends up with the right parents for them” when we know how many kids in this world are abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated by their parents. It’s a fair point, so I’ve changed that statement to “It’s love that makes a family”. That way you can help explain nontraditional families without also validating abusive ones.

Lastly, I made a few minor tweaks just to make the piece more evergreen and universal. I never expected people on other continents would read my blog, and not all of them know what Grand Central Station is.

If you want to reblog the post from this point on, I ask that you use the newer version. Just to restate my reblogging policy:

Anyone is welcome to repost anything on this site anywhere, provided they credit me and link back to the original post on my domain. (Something along the lines of this would be great: “This piece, by Jerry Mahoney, originally appeared on his blog “Mommy Man: Adventures of a Gay Superdad“. I request that you use the “Contact Me” page to let me know when you’re going to reblog something. I love to check out my work on other people’s sites, however big or small their audience, and I may even be able to send some traffic your way by sharing your link.

To share any of my posts on your social networks, just click the corresponding button (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) at the bottom of the post and it does everything necessary for you.

If you quote excerpts, please link back to the full piece.

If you link me without reposting the entire piece and say, “Hey, go read this guy’s site! It’s great!”, then you’re awesome and I like you.

Aw, shucks. I like all of you! And I still can’t wait to visit Australia someday.

Hey, Everyone! It’s the Greatest, Most Thrilling Post Ever With Huge News! Wow!

Where Do Gaybies Come From, bookshelf, great books, literatureI’ve been hoping for a long time I’d get to write this post. I’m so excited about it that I’m actually going to skip over the rambling, often unrelated intro I sometimes give my posts and just get right to the announcement:

My book sold.

Insane cheers, tears of joy, sigh of relief…

It sold.

Let’s be honest. Until now, calling it a book was a bit of a stretch. Until now, it was really just a very big file on my hard drive. In about a year, though, my book will be a book. A book with a list price and an ISBN and my name on the cover. You will be able to read it, download it, buy an illegal copy for a dollar on the streets of Chinatown, borrow it from the library, burn it, give it no stars on Amazon and/or purchase it in whatever bookstores still exist when it gets released. You may even be able to get sworn in on it on The People’s Court. I’ll have to check on that. In short, all the qualities that qualify something to be termed “a book” will apply to something I wrote.

My book.

To those of you who are newer around here, “my book” is a memoir I’ve been writing for the last few years called WHERE DO GAYBIES COME FROM? It’s about how my boyfriend Drew and I became dads. For the short version of our story, you can read the Modern Love I wrote.

The full version comes out in March 2014. More details here.

This book is not a compilation of blog posts or a bunch of stuff you’ve already read. It’s made up of all-new material, except for maybe a joke or two that I used somewhere else and which was just too good to leave out. It’s a story, with a beginning, a middle and (well, since you already know, I’ll just be honest) a happy ending. I guess you could consider it a prequel to this blog, or alternatively, Mommy Man’s origin story.

I have plenty of time to hype it up over the next year, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say I am incredibly proud of my book. If you like this blog, then the book should have just the mix of inappropriate humor and shameless sentimentality you’ve come to recognize as constituting “my thing.”

At the risk of this turning into some unwarranted acceptance speech or of spoiling the acknowledgments section of my book (my book!), I want to thank everyone who visits, comments, subscribes, shares, likes, Diggs, Reddits, pins, stumbles upon, reblogs, emails, freshly presses, puts me on television or just wanders in here through a google image search for angry cat pictures. (Still my #1 referral!) I begged you to do all those things, and you did. Then publishers noticed and determined they could likely get a fair number of you to pony up twenty bucks or so to read my book. The system works!

In other words, brace yourself, because now begins Phase 2, wherein I raise the stakes and ask you to actually pay money to read my writing, (i.e., buy my book). I promise not to do too much of that, but you can expect some hard-core pimping for sure amid the usual pee and poo posts I put up here. Also, if you happen to be Oprah’s niece or Stephen King’s gardener and you can help me slip them an advance preview copy, now’s a good time to make yourself known.

Thanks to Drew and the kids for putting up with all the time Daddy spent neglecting his parental duties writing over the last few years.

Finally, I need to point your attention to the greatest agent I could’ve asked for, Laurie Abkemeier of DeFiore and Company, whose advice, wisdom, editing skill and unflagging dedication to me and to this project made this happen. If you have any interest in publishing or just knowing cool people, you should follow her on Twitter, read her Tumblr and download her Agent Obvious app (it’s free!).

Most of all, just thanks.

Also, thanks.

Thank you.

Confessions of a Bad Dad: My Kids are Junkies

popface2-1If there’s one thing that always makes me feel like a failure as a parent, it’s when someone asks me what my kids’ first words were.

Seriously, I’m supposed to know that?

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I wasn’t listening for their first words every day of their babyhood. It’s just that those first two years were full of so many loony squeaks and noises, some totally random and some parroting grown-up speech. Mixed in there occasionally were various sounds which I gradually came to understand were communicating something specific. But even those weren’t always words. It’s not like one day something crystal clear arose from my kids’ babble, like this:

Goo gaa foo daa daduh baba iPhone fee fum poopoo Ke$ha

The closest thing I can identify to a first word is “pop”, and really that’s just because it was their most commonly used word as far back as I can remember. More than “Daddy”, more than “Why? Why? Why?”, even slightly more than “Ke$ha”. Have I mentioned my kids love Ke$ha?

So what’s a pop?

A pop is my arch nemesis. My Moriarty. The Tom to my Jerry. It’s a vile plastic narcotic that’s been my childrens’ master since they first wrapped their tiny, toothless gums around one. You know, one of these:

Pop, Pacifier, Nuk, Binky (Shudder.)

Sure, at first pops were cute. I mean, look at this. This is cute:

babypopface-1

You know what’s not as cute? This:popface

OK, it’s a little cute, so maybe you can understand my dilemma.

It all started so sweetly. One day, baby Sutton pointed at a pacifier that was just out of reach and pluckily chirped, “Pop!” Drew and I let out our biggest-ever “Awwwww…” and knew immediately that “pop” was our new term for pacifier, forever.

I never expected “forever” would last three and a half years.

I used to cringe when I would see anyone over the age of zero walking around with a pacifier in his or her mouth. Pacifiers are for babies, Childless Me insisted. Why didn’t that kid’s parents take it away? Were they A) not ready to accept that their kids were growing up, or B) completely incapable of standing up to the little tyrants?

The answer, I now know, is B.

Totally B.

Back when my kids were zero years old, we would scatter a dozen pacifiers around their cribs at night, because if they woke up and couldn’t find one, there would be hell to pay. I developed a unique superpower, the ability to locate a pacifier in the dark at 2 a.m. amid a tangle of bedsheets and Muppet dolls with only the light of my iPhone to guide me.

The only reason we stopped giving them so many pops is that they developed favorites, and they could tell the difference even in complete darkness. My kids had become pop connoisseurs.

So they got to be one year old, and they still used their pops. Big deal. Pops calmed them down, and keeping them calm was my #1 daily challenge. What was the harm?

Pacifiers Are Not Forever, PopagandaThen, they got to be two years old…

Two and a half…

People started telling me to poke holes in the pops so they wouldn’t be as fulfilling to suck on. My mom told me how she finally got me to give up my pacifier when I was too old for it. She simply held it up in one hand, picked up a pair of scissors in the other, then la la la repressed memory la la la childhood trauma la la la.

I couldn’t do that to my kids. They were in love. How would I handle this if they were dating someone I didn’t like? I would never just forbid them from seeing each other. Likewise, a scissor attack seemed a bit drastic.

I would have to orchestrate this breakup gently.

Drew and I quietly began to roll back the availability of the pops. First, we restricted pops to inside the home or the car. No more sucking in restaurants or at playgrounds. That way, at least no one else had to know about our secret shame. A few months after that, we ruled that pops could only be used in the car or at bedtime, the places where we most wanted the kids to be quiet.

We started reading them books about how awesome it is to give up pacifiers. Pop-aganda. No less an authority than Elmo told them it was time.

Elmo, Bye-Bye Pacifier, Bye Bye Binky“Are you guys ready to give up your pops?” we’d ask.

“Yeah!!!”

“Today?”

“No!!!”

Pops quietly took over our lives. I learned to drive on the freeway with one hand on the steering wheel and one permanently arched over the center console, fishing around in the back seat for one kid or the other’s dropped pop. It was safer than the alternative — listening to them scream for the whole ride because they’d lost it.

Ellen Burstyn, Requiem For a DreamFinally, I faced the harsh truth about these ringed plastic menaces. Pops weren’t keeping my kids calm. It was more like the absence of pops was driving my kids crazy. This was an addiction. While I’d quietly enabled them, my toddlers had degenerated into Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For a Dream.

I put my foot down.

No pops. Anymore. Ever.

In the car.

I mean, I still let them use pops at bedtime. I’m not crazy. Do you have any idea what kind of fight that would’ve been?

At first, the new rule went over smoothly. They didn’t even protest. It took a day or two before they started playing dumb. “Where’s my pop?” they’d ask as I pulled out of the driveway.

“We don’t use pops in the car anymore. Remember?”

“But where’s my pop?”

“We don’t use –“

“I want my POPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!”

nomorepacifiersWithdrawal was agony for all of us, but we made it. Within a week, they stopped asking for pops in the car.

Bedtime became the new battleground. Every night, I awoke at least once to one kid or the other screaming over the baby monitor, “Daddy! I can’t find my pop!!!”

Slowly, I planted the seeds for the final phase.

“You know who could really use these pops? Your cousin, Grace.”

“Yeah, she’s a baby! Babies love pops!”

“So, the next time we see her, we’re going to leave the pops with her. And then, as a reward, we’ll go to Toys R Us, and you guys can pick out any toy you want!”

“Yay!”

Yes, I bribed them — not because bribing is good parenting, but because bribing works, and sometimes that’s more important.

For months, it went on like this. We talked about giving up the pops, and they loved the idea, because when we discussed it, it always occurred in the future. I could almost hear them assuring me, “I can quit anytime I want to, Daddy.”

Then, finally, this past weekend, we made the trip to my in-laws’ house, where the kids would see their baby cousin.

“Are you guys going to give Grace your pops when we see her?”

“Yes! And then we’ll go to Toys R Us!”

I didn’t even have to remind the kids when we got there. They were eager to do it, as soon as they saw Grace. Still, I knew the real test would come at night. They had never slept popless before.

Once again, though, they surprised me. They were actually excited. “Sleeping without pops is fun!” Sutton announced. They went to bed without pacifiers, and without a fight. They slept, ironically, like babies.

For three days.

We cheered like lunatics for them. “You did it! You slept without pops! You’re big kids now!”

“Can we go to Toys R Us?”

“Yes! The day after we get home, we’ll go!”

“Yay!!!”

Zelda Rubenstein, Poltergeist, This House is CleanStill, something didn’t seem right. It was like the scene in Poltergeist after Zelda Rubenstein proclaims, “This house is clean!” and you just know the worst shit yet is about to go down.

The climactic showdown happened as soon as we returned home.

If Drew and I had thought ahead, we would’ve swept our house of pops before we left, but we didn’t, and ten seconds after we walked in the door, Bennett found an old one behind his bed and shoved it in his mouth.

“Bennett, we’re done with pops, remember?”

Bennett shoved his face in his pillow to hide from us.

“Bennett, give me the pop!”

“WAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

It was worse than ever, and while we fought with him, Sutton demanded her pop, too. All that progress, erased in an instant.

Drew and I gathered all the pops and put them out of the kids’ reach. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t give in, no matter how bad things got. And they got pretty bad.

We fought with the kids all night long. They wouldn’t stay in bed. They wouldn’t stop crying. They played on our emotions. “Daddy,” Bennett wailed. “I miss my pop SOOOOO MUCH!!!”

“You can do it!” we told them. “The first night will be hard, but then it’ll get easier. I promise!”

“POPPPPPPPPPPP!!!”

“Stay strong!”

This was rock bottom, but we didn’t cave. We made those kids face their demons. They stared into the abyss, tore their minds apart then built themselves anew.

It was one of the longest nights of our lives, but we made it, all of us. Dawn arrived, and nary a pop had touched anyone’s lips. Success.

I can’t say it was easy for any of us. I can’t say we’ll ever be the same again. But after our agonizing trek to the thundering gullet of Hell and back, we all agreed on one thing.

It had been worth it.

toysrus

Another (Link to a) Video of Me on TV!

Jerry Mahoney, Raising America, HLN, Kyra Phillips, Mommy ManThanks to my friend Janice Browne, I have the image above to post of my latest appearance on Raising America with Kyra Phillips on HLN. (12pm weekdays! Check it out!)

Some people said my backdrop was a little blah last time. (A plain white wall? What could be blah about that?) So this time, I livened it up with works from two of my favorite artists. For those of you art critics out there, these were produced with mixed media (crayons and fingerpaint). Bennett’s (on the left) is titled “Fireworks” and Sutton’s (on the right) is titled “My Beautiful Picture”. Bids will be accepted in the comments section below. Proceeds go to charity (i.e., their college funds).

As for the video, well, the wonderful Kelly of Are You Finished Yet graciously put her technically-challenged head together with mine and made a valiant effort to help me embed it here. Unfortunately, we came up as blank as last week’s wall. So instead of an embed, I’ll direct you again to HLN’s site or my Facebook page (where you can also like me!). This week, I defend straight dads’ right to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and applaud Willow Smith for not wanting to make a hip-hop Annie movie.

If anyone tech savvier than me and Kelly wants to take a stab at helping me embed the next one or put it on YouTube, I’ll graciously reward you with your own moderate-quality reprint of either “Fireworks” or “My Beautiful Picture”, your choice.

My Little Mean Girl

sutton1

“If a baby came to my house, I would hit it so that it would leave my house.”

That’s a direct quote from my 3-year-old daughter, Sutton, whom I’ve previously declared to be the sweetest little girl in the world. I don’t say that as much anymore, and when I do say it, she’s quick to correct me.

“No,” she’ll insist. “I’m a mean girl!”

snow white, evil witch, apple

(l., what most little girls want to be; r., my daughter)

She’ll say it with the wicked delight of a Disney villainess. Speaking of those, she’s endlessly fascinated by them. “Just take onnnnnnne biiiiiiiiite,” she cackles constantly, in a creepily uncanny impersonation of the evil queen tempting Snow White with her poison apple. She went as Ariel from the Little Mermaid last Halloween, but only after we struggled in vain to find her an Ursula costume. One of her favorite YouTube clips of late is an edit someone did of Sleeping Beauty with only Maleficent’s dialogue included. Why waste time with anything else, right?

I think she’s doing research.

How did this happen to my delightful little angel? Well, the baby thing can be explained with some backstory. She said it right after a baby took a toy away from her, and everyone defended the baby. “She doesn’t know any better!” grown-ups (like me) assured her. Sutton just glared at this tiny, adorable little creature everybody loved who did something selfish and got away with it. That’s the origin story of an evil queen if I’ve ever heard one.

It wasn’t her resentment of the baby that bothered me. It was the ferocity with which she clung to it. “I don’t like babies!” she swore. “Babies should all go away!” Replace “baby” with any racial epithet and it might’ve been a Strom Thurmond speech from the 1950s. One baby wronged her, one time, and she became a raging baby racist.

sutton2By all appearances, Sutton is more of a Cinderella than a Wicked Stepsister. She’s a beautiful little girl with a sense of style far beyond anything she inherited from her dads. She knows how to pick out just the right shoes to complement each of her favorite dresses. She’s self-assured and funny, even if her favorite joke at this age is just to reply “Poopy!” to everything. She’s also ridiculously smart. A few weeks ago, we read in a book that a character’s feelings were “fragile”. She asked what that meant, and I said, “Fragile means something breaks easily.” The next day, her brother was playing with a snow globe, and I warned him to be careful with it. “It’s fragile!” Sutton shouted.

Her teacher described her as the Mayor of her preschool class, because she’s a born leader who bounces from one group to another to see how everyone’s doing. She’s incredibly chatty, and when she wants to start a conversation, she’ll just sit across from me, cock her head thoughtfully to one side and ask, “So… what’s your interesting?” (It’s become her catch phrase.) She has every quality you could ask for in a daughter. She’s smart, charming, self-confident and totally fearless.

I’ve seen “Mean Girls”. This is a recipe for disaster.

Already, she’s built up an unheard-of immunity to discipline. I might tell her to pick up her toys or she’ll lose dessert. Rather than pick up her toys, she’ll scream her head off and accuse me of being unfair. I’ll tell her if she doesn’t stop screaming, then I’ll take away one of her YouTube videos at bedtime (part of our nightly routine). She’ll scream louder, and I’ll say, “OK, you lost one video. You want to lose another one?” Scream. “OK, that’s two videos you’ve lost. Want to go for all three?”

john-benderIt’s like John Bender racking up Saturday detentions in the Breakfast Club. I can’t win. The only punishment that has any impact is the first one, but then I’m burdened with enforcing an endless string of post-punishment punishments because she was too stubborn to back down. I admit it. I can’t compete on her level. And now she’s made me identify with Mr. Vernon. Curses!

I’ve been telling the kids a lot about Harry Potter lately, and guess who’s piqued Sutton’s interest? That’s right. He Who Shall Not Be Named, Whose Name My Daughter Won’t Stop Saying. She pleaded with me to show her a picture of him, even though I warned her he was very scary looking. Bennett covered his eyes while I did the Google Image search, but Sutton was riveted.I told her about the four houses at Hogwarts that the Sorting Hat can send you to, and guess where she begged to go?

“Slytherin! The one with the mean guys!”

LordvoldemortLook, I love my daughter no matter what. Just because I’m worried she might end up as Cruella de Vil, it doesn’t mean I won’t teach her how to count to 101. I’ll probably even tip her off where she can score some Dalmatians. (Psst, firehouses!) I just want for my kids what every parent wants, for them to be cooler than I was at their age. (Granted, this sets the bar pretty low.) In Sutton’s case, I have no worries whatsoever. Who’s cooler than the villain?

Sutton’s preschool teacher also called her “The nicest thief in the world” because she likes to take toys from other kids, and then when the kid complains, she’ll drip false sincerity and reply, “Oh, I’m so sorry! Here you go!”

That’s another thing she does really well — apologies. (It helps when you’ve had as much practice as she’s had.) On some level, my daughter is still the sweetest girl in the world. She loves to dance, play and laugh, she loves to give hugs and kisses, and she tells me all the time, totally unprompted, how much she loves me. I’ve never actually seen her hit a baby — or anyone, in fact. She’s a darling little girl, honestly, a total angel.

I’m keeping an eye on her, though. Consider yourself warned.

2012Yearbook-148

“So… what’s your interesting?”

Video

My Unexpected TV Debut

It’s appropriate that I used a Newhart episode to talk about my experience with the new HLN TV show Raising America with Kyra Phillips, because that episode was about a guest filling in at the last-minute on a TV show.

Well, guess how I made my first appearance on Raising America? Yes, somebody cancelled, and I took their place. This Jerry has something in common with the Unbelievable Jerry on Vermont Today.

Thankfully, Kyra handled the switcheroo with much more grace than Dick Loudon, and no one got called any names.

I apologize to everyone who was expecting to see me this Friday, because I won’t be on then after all. This is the world of live TV, I guess. The good news is I was on the air. I raised America. Kyra was delightful, my sparring partner ArmyWife101 was terrific and decidedly not a weenie, and most importantly, I didn’t embarrass myself. I don’t think so, at least. You be the judge.

You can watch video of the segment on the HLN site here or on my Facebook page here. (OK, I’m linking the FB page because I’m shamelessly hoping you’ll “Like” the page while you’re there. You thought TV would class me up maybe? Ha, fools! Seriously, though, if you’re interested in my appearances, you’ll get much more up-to-date info from my FB and Twitter than from the blog.)

Technical geekery footnote: Ideally, I’d be embedding the video right here, but unless I’m mistaken, WordPress only allows video embeds from certain sites, and HLN isn’t one of them. (If anyone geekier than me knows better, feel free to give me some tips in the comments.)