Mommy Man Early Review Roundup!

muppet-criticsI’ve never understood writers who say they don’t read their reviews. You mean there are people out there talking about you and you don’t want to know what they’re saying? What if it’s really glowing? What if it’s insightful and constructive? What if it’s about your mama?

I’m sure I will change my mind the second someone calls my book unfunny or boring or some word I have to look up. For now, though, we’re still a couple of weeks before the release date, and everything I’ve read so far has been the kind of stuff I’d be perfectly happy posting here on my website.

So I will!

Publisher’s Weekly may not be on your personal bookshelf, but among people who make their living in books, it’s hugely influential and highly revered. It’s like what Cat Fancy is to crazy cat ladies. If they purr about your book, it’s an honor. Well, here’s what Publishers Weekly said about my book, in a review that was just released today:

“Comedy writer Mahoney answers the question, ‘Just how do two gay men become dads’ in this uproarious look at the world of surrogacy… By the end of this touching book, the proud dads feel that they are the luckiest people alive.”

There’s a bit of synopsis in between those two sentences, but I didn’t yadda yadda anything negative. Reading that review was a huge relief. Uproarious and touching? That’s totally what I was going for! Publisher’s Weekly, you get me!

I also managed to get dust jacket blurbs from some incredible writers. These were all people I’ve been a huge fan of, who I approached in the hopes that they might vouch for my book to people who trust their opinion. They didn’t get paid for this, unless you consider an email from me saying, “I love you, you’re awesome” payment. Who are these wonderful people?

  • Jill Smokler a/k/a Scary Mommy
  • Karen Alpert a/k/a Baby Sideburns
  • Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and host of Parental Discretion on NickMom
  • Tim Carvell, head writer of The Daily Show with John Stewart and executive producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Drew Greenberg, writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Arrow
  • Sascha Rothchild, author of How to Get Divorced by 30
  • Susan E. Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations With God
  • Victoria Strouse, screenwriter for Pixar
  • Robin Sindler, producer for NBC’s Today Show

 

therealthingYou can read all the nice things they said on my book page or on the dust jacket itself once the book comes out.

Some of the nicest reviews of my book have come from people you haven’t heard of, regular users on GoodReads who’ve had access to advance copies through their connection to the publishing world. These are people like book buyers and librarians, who love books and love to tell people about books they particularly love. Here are a few quotes:

 “This book was simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. There were moments I was laughing out loud, and then five sentences later bawling my eyes out. In this absolutely unforgettable book, Jerry Mahoney documents the trials and tribulations he and his partner Drew face when they decide to have children.”

 “This book was absolutely wonderful — it takes an incredibly skilled writer to make us roll on the floor with laughter through the many tense moments along the way to daddy-hood… As the Bio/Memoir Collection Development librarian for our library, not only will I will be purchasing this book for our collection, but I will be recommending it to as many people as I can.”

 “It is a charming, sweet, and funny story of two dads and their quest to have a family via a surrogate. Mahoney is a great writer, and he manages to find the humor in even the most difficult and dark times of this complicated journey to parenthood.

Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-TaylorWow, do I sound like a egotistic jerk by putting all these reviews on my blog? Well, I’m only doing it so I can relish the moment when all the reviews are still good. That, and to convince you to join My Amazing Chart Twerk 2, of course.

“Mommy Man” the book will be available on May 8, online or at your favorite bookstore. (The e-book will follow shortly after that date.) I’m encouraging everyone who reads this blog to buy the book on release day in hopes of making the maximum impact. Mark your calendar now, then on May 8, buy buy buy!

Buy it because you like this blog, buy it because Baby Sideburns and Scary Mommy told you to, buy it because you like things that are uproarious and touching. Just buy it…

… and then write a review! I love reviews! I’m going to read them all!

You know, at least until the first bad one comes in.

* * * * *

I’m on Twitter! I’m on Facebook! Like me, like me!

Announcing… My Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

mommymancalendarHave you preordered my book yet? You know, the one that comes out in about three (gulp!) weeks? If so, then you’re awesome, I love you and there’s no need to keep reading this post. Go watch that video of the cute old ladies riding on an airplane for the first time instead. You’ve earned it.

If you haven’t ordered it yet, though, I have one word for you…

DON’T!

Yes, I’m a crazy lunatic whose first ever book, which he’s so excited about and so proud of, is coming out in three weeks, who’s asking his blog readers NOT to buy it. Why?

Because it’s time for my Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may remember my first Chart Twerk, where I asked everyone who was planning to preorder my book to do so at roughly the same time in order to make a big splash in the Amazon rankings. At the risk of sounding like a Trump-ish self-promoter, it was a huge success. The book got to #1 in its category, #260 overall and it briefly outranked “Eat Pray Love,” though I’ve still yet to interest Julia Roberts in the film rights. The most amazing part of it all was that this was seven months before the book even came out.

Imagine the potential impact when the book is actually available.

Want to take part? Hooray. Here’s what I’m asking you to do…

1. Mark your calendar to buy my book on its official release day, Thursday, May 8, 2014.

2. Live a happy, fulfilling life for the next three weeks.

3. On Thursday, May 8, 2014, BUY MY BOOK!

It’s that simple! Buy the book as close to 12PM EST as you can so we can make the maximum impact.

If you have any plans at all to buy my book, I really hope you’ll take part in this. Don’t just plan to pick up a copy whenever you get around to it or once everyone else has already read it. Help me make a big splash.

You may remember that last time, I asked you to preorder the book on Amazon. That’s because back then, Amazon was the only place that had it available for preorder. On May 8, my book will be available EVERYWHERE, so I’m asking you to buy it wherever you prefer to buy books.

But it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Soup, IndieBound, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, The Book Depository, that Belgian site a reader tipped me off to or your favorite local brick and mortar store. Buy 1 copy at each of those places if you want to. I don’t mind! Want the direct sales links? Click on this page and check out some of your options.

When the big day arrives, I’ll keep an eye on the major sites to see where the book ranks, and if you notice anything cool yourself, please let me know! If you happen to spot a copy of Mommy Man on the Best Seller table at you local bookstore, tweet me! If your Barnes & Noble hangs up a sign that reads, “Sorry! Sold out of ‘Mommy Man’! Please stop asking!”, Facebook it!

One more thing…

I have some personal appearances coming up over the next couple of months (details here), and those are also great places to buy my book. If you’re in New York, LA, DC or Rochester and you want to buy a copy in person, then feel free not to twerk, but instead mark your calendar for the appearance you can attend. I’d love to see you there!

The rest of you, get ready. It’s almost twerk time!

Scary Mommy’s Thanksgiving Project

Scary Mommy Nation

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers who are insightful, hilarious, awesome and all the things you aspire to be. Few people fit that description as well as Scary Mommy, whom it’s been my pleasure to get to know this year.

Well, it turns out Scary Mommy is also (who knew?) a good person. After a bunch of moms anonymously confessed on her site that they were having trouble feeding their families, she started her own charity to treat them to Thanksgiving dinners. She’s been doing it for the last two years and feeding hundreds of families.

Because I am far too lazy to organize something like this myself and arguably not as good a person as she is, I am simply linking to her Thanksgiving Project here. It’s a good cause, it’s tax deductible and for $50 you can help feed an entire family. If you don’t have that much to give, then give what you can and let someone else chip in the cranberry sauce. It’s all good.

Or if you need help yourself, she’s also taking applications.

Good luck with the project, Jill!

An Open Letter to the Muppets, From a Little Girl and Her Dad

Rockin'_RobinDear Muppets,

One of the best things about having kids is getting to introduce them to the things you loved when you were young. One of the worst comes when they don’t see those things quite the way you always did.

I was really excited this morning when my 4-year-old son, Bennett, raced up to me to say he’d just seen the greatest YouTube video ever — and it starred the Muppets! I love the Muppets! I’ve even written about them before on this blog! Bennett started describing it to me in his adorably excitable way.

“Daddy, you won’t believe what they were sitting on… BRANCHES! Isn’t that CRAAAAZY? And there were BIRDS! They were going, ‘Tweet, tweet!’”

“Wait a second, dude,” I said, in my older, excitable way. “Was this song called ‘Rockin’ Robin’?”

“YES!!!”

“I REMEMBER THAT!!!”

“WOW!!!”

“LET’S WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

“OK!!!”

I grabbed Bennett’s twin sister, Sutton, and the three of us ran to the iPad. As the video played, Bennett and I giggled and sang along. Sutton just watched.

“Daddy,” she said, about halfway through, “there aren’t a lot of girl Muppets.”

Cue the record scratch here.

I’m not going to pretend that this was news to me. Sure, everyone knows Miss Piggy, and any true Muppet fan is aware of Janice, who in fact, sings lead vocals on “Rockin’ Robin.” Other than her, though, it was a total sausage factory on those branches, the same way it is in the Muppet Theater, the Muppet movies, the Muppet TV specials and everything else Muppet-related.

camilla

The 3rd most popular “girl Muppet”

Think about it. After Miss Piggy and Janice, what other female Muppets are there? Camilla the chicken?

I don’t want to play up this moment too much. It’s not like my daughter burst into tears or stormed away declaring she didn’t like the Muppets anymore. She was just making an observation. And that is exactly why I’m so upset.

At 4 years old, my daughter has already figured out that sometimes, there just aren’t a lot of girls. Some people create entire realms of characters where women are an afterthought or a token, where one or two females can represent every feminine characteristic they intend to portray. The boys come in endless varieties, each with their own lovable quirks. There’s Kermit, the avuncular optimist, Fozzie, the goofy vaudevillian, Swedish Chef, the, well, Swedish Chef… and then there’s Miss Piggy, the girl.

What really hurts about this is how otherwise inclusive the Muppets are. Muppets come in all shapes and species, all colors of the rainbow, some have different accents or dress in a unique way. The only blind spot the Muppets seem to have is the one that covers, you know, roughly half of the entire world’s population — and 100% of my daughter.

I realize this isn’t a new thing. The Muppets have always been a boys’ club. What’s changed, of course, is that I have a daughter now, and I want her to feel as welcome and included in this fun little fantasy world as I do.

suttonanddolls

Sutton and 1/1,000,000,000th of her stuffed animal collection

I could very easily steer her toward other pop culture choices. Believe me, she knows about princesses and Strawberry Shortcake, properties that were created specifically for her gender and where girl characters typically outnumber boys. But she wants to like the Muppets, and I want to share them with her without her feeling like she needs to sit on the sidelines while her brother and I geek out over their videos.

The Children’s Television Workshop has done a good job of integrating new female characters, like Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Rosita. There’s no reason the Muppets (who are owned by Disney and operate as a separate entity) can’t do the same.

Come on, Disney. This is on you. I know you know how to market things to little girls, so let’s get on this, OK?

I am not wagging a finger at you so much as I am waving dollar bills in your face. My son owns about half a dozen stuffed animals, including Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. My daughter owns about nine squijillion. Many of them are your characters. If you make some new girl Muppets, we will buy the toys. We will buy the original doll, we will buy the “young” version of the doll, we will buy the Classic Animator edition of the doll, the Barbie version of the doll, the pillow pet of the doll, the miniature figurine of the doll. The last time I counted, I believe Sutton had six Rapunzels, and she’s never even sat all the way through Tangled. Whatever you churn out and squeeze onto the shelves of the Disney Store, we will charge on our Disney credit card and take home with us. You will have us on the hook for years and years, for hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

What I am begging you for is the opportunity to make you considerably richer. If that’s not win-win, I don’t know what is.

Look, I realize my timing is terrible. The next Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, comes out in March, and from what I’ve seen, it’s just as testosterone-heavy as all the other Muppet films. No new girl Muppets, although there is Tina Fey — who, by the way, I’m pretty sure will be with me on this.

It's almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two women before the time runs out.

It’s almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two female characters before the time runs out.

Maybe you can squeeze in a few reshoots or CGI in Beaker’s mom or something. Bring back Skeeter if you want to. I’m not picky. At the very least, you’re probably in development on the next Muppet movie after this one. (I hope so. I hope there are a hundred more Muppet movies on the way, ones both my kids will want to see with me.)

If you’re still in need of ideas, here’s one for you. After we watched the video this morning, I told Sutton she should create her own girl Muppet. Then at preschool, that’s exactly what she did. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she couldn’t wait to show me her drawing. Her name is Rosada.

EPSON MFP image

Rosada, according to Sutton, is nice, quiet and as smart as a bug. She likes Milano cookies, her shoes and her bag that her mother got her. She is not a ladybug.

A four-year-old came up with this. What have you got?

Sincerely,

Jerry Mahoney

Why That Home Depot Marriage Proposal Video Makes Me Want to Hurl

Cry all you want, everyone I know on Facebook. If I’m being honest with you (and I probably won’t be to your face), that Salt Lake City Home Depot gay marriage proposal video you all insist on posting makes me sick.

Oh, don’t get all huffy now. I agree. Hooray for gays publicly displaying their affection in a typically macho store in a typically religious town! It Gets Better! Huzzah!

You know which video I mean. Today it’s this one:

Next week it’ll be some other video in some other town with some other couple, maybe straight, maybe gay but definitely eyerollingly cutesy.

Seriously, I’m done with these wannabe viral flash mob marriage proposals.

DONE.

And here’s why…

1. I don’t find them romantic. Whatever happened to going out for a nice dinner, pulling out a ring, getting down on one knee and being done with it? Am I supposed to be charmed that you felt the need to make a public spectacle of yourself?

Personally, I’m grateful to have a boyfriend who would slaughter me if I tried anything like this on him, run screaming from the Home Depot, refuse to let me post the video online and probably never speak to me again. I love the guy.

2. You’re raising the bar to places it shouldn’t go. Not everyone has the time, talent or complete lack of shame required to pull something like this off. But thanks to showoffs like these, every lovesick Joe or Jane is going to expect their boyfriend to stage his proposal like a Broadway production number if he has any hope of wooing her. How long till one of these videos ends with the unsuspecting victim staring into their beloved’s sweaty, exhausted face and responding to “Will you marry me?” with “Let’s see how many hits this gets”?

3. I’ve got better things to do. In every stupid video like this, there’s always phalanx of loved ones backing the dude up. And for what? They’re not the ones getting married. But now every time one of my friends falls in love, I’m supposed to go buy a solid color tank top, per your wardrobe demands, then rehearse an elaborate dance routine at, according to the credits, at least two different locations? And you’re making me stand next to Mike? I hate Mike. He’s way too into this, and he has a crush on you, don’t you know that? This is killing him. Geez, now you’ve made me feel sorry for Mike.

How about you come up with a plan that involves you and your boyfriend, and the rest of us will show you how happy we are for you by dancing at your wedding and only at your wedding? I love you guys, but honestly, that’s all I’m signing up for. You want to propose to your boyfriend? Great, good luck with that. Send me a Save the Date card when the time comes.

4. People be shoppin’!  I pity those poor customers at Home Depot who just wanted to buy some lumber, only to find the aisle blocked off for a third-rate knockoff of some 80s Paula Abdul video. Couldn’t you have done this in the parking lot, or better yet, your own back yard? As if people don’t hear enough lame excuses from their contractors about why their project was delayed. Now they have to listen to them babble on about some shitty midday rave going on at Home Depot. Yeah, right.

5. Just come on! The song is by Betty Who? Betty Who who? And it’s used with permission? Gee thanks, Betty Whoever-You-Are. That song nobody’s ever heard of is so important to these dudes that they name-check it at the beginning and end of their video. Turns out Betty Who is an up-and-coming Australian pop star who — dammit, I fell for the trap!

C’mon, who’s really behind this video? Didn’t you people learn anything when Jimmy Kimmel came through the door with a fire extinguisher and told us that twerk failer was really a professional stunt woman? Viral videos are as fake as reality TV. The joke’s on you! Soylent Green is made out of people! IT’S PEOPLE!!!!

Notwithstanding the foregoing, my heart goes out to the happy couple. Mazel Tov!

My Favorite Part of Being a Parent

meandgrover

Disney World is a terrible place to realize you’re gay. Admittedly, it’s not like I was standing in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle or Space Mountain when I suddenly went, “I’m gay.” But it was right around when I was starting to accept my sexuality, in my early 20s, that I found myself at the happiest place on Earth, incredibly sad.

Everywhere I turned, there were dads. Dads with moms, dads with kids, dads with Mickey and Donald. All I could think was, “This will never be me.” Being able to take your family to Disney World, I concluded, was a reward you got for being straight, one of the seemingly infinite benefits of heterosexuality which would now be off-limits to me.

I’d never buy my kids a pretzel shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head or hold their hands to comfort them when the Evil Queen pops up on the Snow White ride. No wonder being gay felt like a curse. At the very moment I was accepting the truth of who I was, I was surrounded by glimpses of a future I would never have.

Thankfully, life turned out much differently than I expected. I’ve come a long way in dealing with the gay thing, and so did — well, as it turns out, the entire rest of the world. Yay.

sesameentranceSo it felt like a victory when my boyfriend and I took our kids to Sesame Place last week. We had dinner with Elmo and his friends, and it was like the kids were meeting royalty. They shrieked, giggled, conga-ed and cheated their way through their first ever game of musical chairs.

To top it all off, we were there with some good friends of ours, another set of gay dads and their kids. I couldn’t help thinking back to when I was a sad kid at Disney World, and how much better the future turned out than I ever could have imagined.

“My favorite part was when I got to hug Cookie Monster,” Bennett said on the ride home. “He was soft.”

“My favorite part,” Sutton said, “was all of it.”

And five seconds later, she fell asleep.

Sutton and the Daddy Who Doesn't Like Roller Coasters

Sutton and the Daddy Who Doesn’t Like Roller Coasters

Of course, by now I know that theme parks and sunny days are just a tiny part of raising kids. In between those perfect moments are fights and meltdowns, sleep training and potty training, and spending hours assembling toys that break five minutes after the kids start playing with them. There are days when I can’t wait for the kids to fall asleep and days when all the clothes come out of the laundry smelling like poop because someone had an accident in his Buzz Lightyear underpants (i.e., yesterday).

But despite all the shit — both metaphorical and distressingly literal — that goes into parenting, it’s worth it. No matter how fleeting and hard-earned the payoffs, nothing compares with the high points of having a family. For other people, it might be that first baseball game or ballet recital, a Communion or Bar Mitzvah. For me, it was watching my kids dance with Grover while I ate one of the worst meals I’ve ever had.

The greatest triumph of my life is that I’ve been able to be myself and still have everything I ever wanted. And that’s why I’m grateful for being a parent. It’s exhausting, infuriating, agonizing, humbling, hilarious and utterly wonderful.

My favorite part is all of it.sesame-holdinghands

I Am Michael Jordan! (To My Kids)

basketballFor the tiniest sliver of my childhood, I was a jock. Or at least I tried. I guess I was probably about 8 years old. It’s hard to recall, because I’ve resigned the memory to the deepest, darkest, most hidden corner of my brain. My mental panic room.

For reasons that must’ve made sense to me at the time, I decided I should try soccer. I guess I had seen other kids doing it, so it seemed like the normal thing to do. I took a break from staging the musical “Annie” in my backyard and suited up for a pee wee league. Here’s where the memory gets fuzzy again, because all that comes to mind when I try to think about soccer are these two things:

One, I was never allowed to take the field during a game. (And let me wish a belated eff you to that coach, while I’m at it.)

Two, there was a cooler at the sidelines that had orange slices in it.

Those are the only things I remember, because that alone was enough to make me swear off sports forever. Even their snacks sucked. What was the point? Those few weeks of soccer and a bit of bowling comprise the entirety of my athletic career.

Until yesterday.

Our new house is three doors down from a playground. My kids and I were on the jungle gym playing some imagination game they made up that merges elements of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Barbie’s “Princess & The Popstar”, when they noticed that the basketball court was empty, and that would make a perfect chocolate river-slash-ampitheater for the performance of our smash encore-slash-dessert.

So we headed over, and I prepared to play my least favorite playground game, “Everybody Keep Away From the Broken Glass!”, when the kids noticed that someone had left their basketball behind.

“Daddy, do it!” they shouted.

“What?”

“Throw the soccer ball!”

It’s a sign of how little sports is a part of our family that this is how my children ask me to shoot a basket. (Again, it was a basketball, not a soccer ball, though what the ball looks like is pretty much my extent of knowledge about the sport.) I figured I had nothing to lose, though. Thankfully, their respect for me has never been built around my athletic prowess. They’re perfectly impressed that I know how to find the Broadway channel on Sirius and that I can score enough to be labeled a “Hopeful” on our Playstation karaoke game.

So I picked up the “soccer ball”, dribbled a few times, studied the angle, moved over two steps, then shuffled back one step, took a deep breath and tossed ball skyward.

And an incredible thing happened. For one of the only times ever, I made a basket. Not just a regular basket, but a perfect, through-the-middle swish boom-goes-the-dynamite on-the-first-try two-pointer.

The crowd went wild.

Like, insanely wild — both of them.

courtkidsIt started off as a squeal of delight and astonishment, transformed into cheers and applause and ended with a chant of “Daddy’s so cool! Daddy’s so cool!” that went on for over a minute.

And I just stood there and basked in it. It was the most beautiful feeling in the world.

I know a lot of kids dream of being Michael Jordan when they grow up, but I never even kidded myself that that was a possibility. And somehow, yesterday, for a moment, I was him, at least in the eyes of two three-year-olds who know nothing about sports and have yet to catch on that their Daddy is as clueless as they are.

Let’s just hope they never expect me to do that again.

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

My Two Daddies… The Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy, and the Other One

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

There was nothing I wanted to inherit from my father more than the name “Dad.” I loved my dad, and in my mind, he was indelibly tied to that particular sobriquet. “Dad” was a term of love and respect for me, a part of all my memories of childhood and a crucial element of how I defined my family. The problem, when I actually became a dad, was that my partner Drew wanted to be called “Dad,” too — or, in the early years, “Daddy.”

“You can’t both be Dad,” a million people warned us. “That’ll be so confusing for your kids.”

They suggested we go by “Daddy” and “Papa,” which seem to be the go-to designations for gay dads these days. No matter how much we considered it, though, “Papa” felt like the consolation prize, and neither of us would agree to settle for it. We both grew up with dads whom we loved very much, so that’s what we wanted to be. Finally, we found someone who gave us the answer we were looking for.

“We’ve never had a problem,” a business associate of Drew’s told us one day. He and his partner had an eight-year-old son who called them both “Dad.”

“Is it ever confusing?”

He shrugged. “When it is, he finds ways to differentiate.”

So we went for it. Before they could even understand speech, our twins heard the word “Daddy” thousands of times. To them, “Daddy” came to mean two different men and one common function. They called for Daddy to kiss their boo-boos and to break up their disputes, not knowing for sure whether the tall guy or the short guy would walk through the door. When they didn’t get the Daddy they were hoping for, they made their displeasure known.

My kids will turn 4 this summer, and already, they’re pros at differentiating between their two dads. Their favorite way is to use modifiers like “Silly Daddy” or “Funny Daddy”, and in those cases, we all know instantly who they mean — not me. When they take the extra effort to throw in a compliment like that, they’re always talking about Drew. I’m just plain old “Daddy.” Some days, Papa doesn’t sound so bad to me anymore.

I want to plead my case: “Remember when I sang Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’, but I changed every word to ‘poop’? Didn’t we have a lot of laughs then?” But I don’t want to end up as “Desperate Daddy,” so I keep my hurt feelings to myself.

I’m the stay-home parent, so while the kids and I do have fun together, I’m also the guy who enforces naptime and who makes them take off their dress-up clothes while they eat their healthy dinners. At night, when Silly Daddy is at his most uproarious, I’m groaning and trying to rush them to bed, because I’m exhausted from all the unfunny things I do all day.

… which brings me to the one distinction that hurts more than Silly Daddy vs. Just Daddy. At some point, my kids started calling my partner “The Daddy Who Goes To Work” and I became “The Daddy Who Stays Home”. Was that how they saw things? Drew was defined by his job, but I was defined by my location, by the fact that you could usually find me within 20 feet of the bed where I slept last night?

These kids didn’t know me before I was Daddy. I used to have a career, too, one that I enjoyed, and that allowed me to live a lot more comfortably than I do now. I took vacations. I saved for my retirement. I saw movies in the theater.

I thought I was trading that in for something better, a more interesting and adventurous life path. I was going to be a dad — a professional dad — and a gay dad at that. Take that, status quo!

Instead, I’ve ended up like most stay-home parents, the clichéd unappreciated house-spouse. I’ll find myself cracking privately to friends, “You know what they should be calling me? The Daddy Who Gave Up His Life for Us!”

It turns out that deciding who I would be to my kids wasn’t as simple as choosing what they would call me. I still love being referred to as “Daddy,” but I’ve come to accept that that term doesn’t mean the same to them as it did to me when I was growing up. For my kids, “Daddy” is an ever-evolving designation, one that requires adjustment at times, complete overhaul at others.

Recently, they decided that “The Daddy Who Stays Home” wasn’t quite working for them anymore. Without notice, they gave it a subtle twist, one that probably seemed minor to them but which brought me instantly out of my funk. It materialized as my daughter drew pictures of two men’s faces, which looked very similar except that one had spiky purple hair and one had a red crew cut. “This is the Daddy Who Goes to Work,” she said, pointing to the first one.

“And this,” she said, holding up the other picture proudly, “is the Daddy Who Takes Care of Us.”

"The Daddy Who Takes Care of Us"

“The Daddy Who Takes Care of Us”

*****

OK, you saw the asterisks. You know what that means. This is the part of the post where I shamelessly ask you to share this post (or my blog in general) on your social networks. Facebook me, tweet me, surprise me. If you like something I wrote here, help me out by spreading the word. If you hate it, then you can still share it, because hey, traffic is traffic, and your friends might have better taste than you. Also, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you can find me. I’m not the type of guy who plays hard to find.

SupremeCourtJustices

How to Talk to Kids About the Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Sex Marriage?

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Yes, that’s a question mark at the end of that post title. Anyone have any ideas?

When news broke that the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, I’m sure a lot of straight parents were stumped about how to discuss the subject with their kids. In the past, I’ve had a lot of sympathy for straight parents who wanted to explain gay parents like me and my partner to their kids. Well, this is one instance in which I say to straight parents, you’ve got it easy. For you, it’s as simple as, “They decided everyone should be treated equally. Hooray!”

As a gay dad, though, I need to have the exact opposite conversation. Before I can tell my kids how great it is that we’re now considered equal, I first have to explain why we weren’t equal to begin with. Our kids have always known that couples come in all varieties of gender combinations — woman/woman, man/man, man/woman, lady/tramp. What they don’t know — and gratefully, are still too young to understand — is that not all of those groups feel comfortable sharing plates of spaghetti in public.

ImageI wrote in a Lifetime Moms post how I don’t want to tell my daughter she can do anything boys can do, because, y’know, duh. Since I wrote that post, there have been a couple of times she’s heard from other people that girls can’t do something, and I’ve had to let her know that those people are horribly wrong, and also just plain horrible. As a result, my extremely girly little girl swears she’s going to be a construction worker when she grows up. Success.

I’ve always felt pretty much the same way about homophobia that I did about sexism: I’ll wait for the kids to encounter it, and then it’ll seem as bizarre and unfounded to them as it should.

Luckily, that plan has served me well so far, because my kids have yet to experience any direct homophobia. All of my fears about parents refusing to set up playdates with us, schools turning us away or landlords refusing to rent to us have been, so far, unfounded. There are the occasional moments we get some extra attention because we have two dads in our family, so my kids briefly get to feel like celebrities. But no one’s thrown any rocks through our windows or given us any negative attention. For the most part, we get treated exactly the way I want to be treated.

It’s not that I don’t want my kids to know about homophobia. It’s just that I’m not sure they’d believe me.

SupremeCourtJusticesThat may be the best part about being a gay parent, that my kids are the only people I’ve ever known who I didn’t have to come out to, who didn’t know about or assume the shame and fear I grew up with. To them, I’m just “Dad”, and the fact that I love “Other Dad” isn’t just natural and wonderful, it’s a fundamental part of their world view.

So, sure, I want to tell my kids about the Supreme Court’s ruling. I want them to see all the people celebrating and all the couples like their dads who are now getting married. There’s just no way they’d appreciate what a big deal it is and no way to do it without exposing them, just a tiny bit, to exactly the thing I’ve been trying to protect them from. I don’t want my kids to feel like victims, and I don’t want them to think they have to be fighters, either. I just want them to be themselves, and so far, they’re doing an awesome job of that.

This is undoubtedly an historical moment, but I’ve decided this is one bit of history they can wait to learn about until their high school history class, because the world the Supreme Court just brought us one step closer to, is one my kids already live in.

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