The way some parents try desperately to get their kids to eat broccoli or take their vitamins, I have routinely pressured my kids to eat their ice cream. It’s a major staple of their Daddy’s diet, and one of the few things I can guarantee we’ll always have around the house. Drew’s brother once busted me by counting 9 cartons in my freezer. Until then, I’d never known I was more interested in ice cream than the average guy.
So far, the kids have fought me on it. No matter what I tried – Coldstone, Ben & Jerry’s – they just weren’t biting. Ice cream has some weird properties, like its frozen-ness or the way it melts when you touch it, that make it hard for two-year-olds to adapt to. At least, I hope that’s the problem. I don’t want to ponder the alternative: that maybe my kids just aren’t ice cream people.
Facing the possibility of remaining the only ice cream-eater in the family, I finally brought out the big guns… Dora the Explorer.
Then I got greedy. I realized they were so into it that I could wave it over their heads as incentive. “Let’s get in the high chairs. If you make me chase you, we’re not having ice cream.” “Finish your strawberries, or no ice cream!” “Don’t throw any food on the floor, or we’re not having ice cream!”
Bennett dutifully caved to each threat, but Sutton defied the last two. She wouldn’t eat her strawberries, and when I insisted, she dumped the whole plate on the floor.
“That’s it!” I shouted. “NO ICE CREAM FOR YOU!!!!”
Never have the words “This hurts me more than it does you” rung truer.
It would’ve been much easier if she was an only child. I could’ve distracted her with something else, and we both would’ve moved on. But because Bennett had been so good, I had to give him ice cream, and that meant Sutton would have to focus on ice cream – and how she wasn’t eating it – the whole time he ate.
She screamed her head off for ten minutes. “WANT ICE CREEEEEEEEAM! WANT ICE CREEEEEAM RIGHT NOW!!!!” I’ve never felt so cruel. Personally, I would prefer being waterboarded to being denied ice cream. But I laid out the rules very clearly, and for a moment, what mattered most was teaching my kid a lesson.
Bennett finished the half scoop I gave him, but he wasn’t crazy about it. He had trouble getting it on his spoon, so he used his hands. There was chocolate dripping everywhere, and his fingers were shaking as if they’d been frostbitten. I don’t think his sister’s ranting and raving helped him enjoy his dessert either.
Once the ice cream was gone, Sutton calmed down. I don’t think I’m going to make a big deal about us trying ice cream again for a while.
Oh well, I guess. More for me.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog is to assist other gay couples who want to have kids. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap, but with a little knowledge and a lot of perseverance, there are any number of ways it can be done.
So at times, I’ll put up an informational post about Makin’ Gaybies. This one’s about some reasons you might want to consider surrogacy, which is how my boyfriend and I had our kids.
I’m by no means an advocate for surrogacy. Everyone needs to do what works for them, and everyone’s situation is different. But surrogacy is probably the most misunderstood way to have kids, and being that it worked so well for us, I felt an obligation to show the positives.
Yes, surrogacy is expensive. All in, it cost us about $150,000. I’ll give you a moment to take that in. It’s a big number. It’s a terrifying number. And you have to have all that money up front, in cash, before you can even get started.
Still, it’s cheaper than buying a house in LA. So we chose to have kids first and to buy a house… someday, maybe, hopefully. That’s why there are now four of us crammed into a two-bedroom condo. But we couldn’t be happier with our choice. (Besides, adoption isn’t cheap either.)
And the benefits of having our kids through surrogacy were enormous:
1. The fetus is legally yours from the start.
This is huge, and no other means of having a child can promise you this.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about birth mothers who change their mind in the delivery room and decide to keep their baby. Then, the would-be adoptive parents are forced to go home empty-handed and cry in a beautifully decorated nursery which might never get used.
Well, that doesn’t happen with surrogacy — because it’s your baby, not hers.
I should be clear that I’m talking about gestational surrogacy. In that arrangement, the surrogate is not using her own eggs. There’s a separate egg donor. So the surrogate has no biological connection to the child and thus feels less of a bond to him or her (or in our case, them).
She also signs a mountain of paperwork stating that she doesn’t want — and can’t have — your child. When the twins were born, Drew and I were listed as their parents on the birth certificates. Neither of us had to go through any adoption procedure, and our surrogate, Tiffany, didn’t have an opportunity to keep the kids. She was sent to a recovery room with her husband, and the babies came to another room in the delivery ward, where Drew and I took care of them. We all got to enjoy the moment for what it was, because legally, everything was already settled.
2. You can go to all the appointments.
I’ll never forget the day the doctor told us about the fluid in Tiffany’s uterus and how much danger it posed. We were six weeks along, and he put the odds of Tiffany carrying the pregnancy to term at 50/50.
He also told us, at that same appointment, that we were having twins.
Being pregnant is rough, and it’s full of moments like these, ups and downs, thrills and panic, a million little bumps and big bumps along the way. And Drew and I lived through it all.
We crammed into every ultrasound room, we watched the fetuses grow week by week, we were the first ones to hear that we were having a boy and a girl. We were at our surrogate’s side – and our kids’ – for every important moment, from before conception all the way through delivery.
When our kids caught their first glimpses of the world, we were there.
And we never felt like intruders. We were welcome everywhere we went. Our surrogate was thrilled to share these moments with us, because they reminded her constantly of why she was doing this amazing thing. Our joy was her joy, and we formed a very special bond with her throughout the process.
3. It’s perfect for control freaks.
No matter how you make your gayby, you can’t grow him or her in your own uterus, because you don’t have one. This is another way surrogacy works in your favor.
I remember a friend telling us that his son’s birth mother chain smoked all through her pregnancy. She didn’t even try to hide it. She didn’t have to. It was her fetus. There was nothing he could do to stop her. In an adoption arrangement, the birth mother is in no way accountable to you, because it’s her child until she declares otherwise, usually following a waiting period after delivery. (And let me say, I’m a big supporter of waiting periods, for the birth mother’s sake.)
A surrogate could never get away with that. She’s tested regularly for drugs, alcohol and nicotine. She has an obligation to take good care of your fetus. She agrees to it up front.
Ultimately, you’re still at her mercy to some extent, but until you can grow a uterus of your own, this is the next best thing.
4. Your relationship with the surrogate can be as open as you want it to be.
Most surrogates, from what I’ve heard, would like to be on your Christmas card list. They enjoy getting an annual reminder of the family they helped create, and they love seeing how the little ones have grown.
Other than that, it’s all up to you — and to a lesser extent, her — to decide.
We knew we wanted someone who would always stay a part of our lives, because it’s important to us that the kids understand where they came from. So when we first met with Tiffany, we made sure she was on board with being a special aunt.
Other people don’t want an aunt, and they’d rather keep things as casual as possible afterwards. There are plenty of surrogates who are looking for that arrangement, too.
One thing’s for sure. The surrogate won’t have any visitation rights with the kids. It’s entirely the parents’ prerogative how much contact you maintain with the surrogate after the birth. Even our surrogate, whom we love like family, doesn’t have any legal rights to see our kids.
5. The odds are good.
When we signed up with our surrogacy agency, we were told that 98% of couples pursuing gestational surrogacy had a baby within the first three in vitro attempts. We were astounded by that figure, and I still think it may be slightly inflated. But when you think about it, gestational surrogacy is bound to have a high success rate.
The surrogate is tested extensively before she’s matched with an intended parent couple. In most cases, she’s already carried at least one baby of her own to term, if not several. So her fertility is never in doubt.
The egg donor is also tested beforehand. She’s young and healthy, and she may even have donated eggs for other couples in the past.
Plus, you have two potential sperm donors. Even if one of the men is infertile, which is unlikely, then there’s a good chance the other can step in.
That goes for the women, too. If your first in vitro fails, you can replace the surrogate and/or the egg donor for your next try.
In vitro can be an uphill battle for a straight couple who have already had trouble conceiving on their own. But for two men, fertility is rarely a problem.
6. You’re not as altruistic as you think you are.
Here’s the one I’m going to get some flack for. Let me say that I think adoption is a beautiful way to make a family, one Drew and I considered ourselves, and which, in different circumstances, we would’ve been thrilled to pursue.
But occasionally the adoption advocates will imply that they’re better than us, that we’re selfish or greedy or that we’re letting parentless children suffer while we go off and make our designer fetuses. Well, before those people get to you, let me tell you that they’re misguided at best.
Yes, there are plenty of babies ready to be placed with loving families, but there are also plenty of loving families looking to adopt.
The ones who are getting left out of all of this happiness are special needs kids. They’re the ones stuck in the foster system, the ones most desperate for families to take them in. No one ever tells straight couples that they should adopt a special needs kid rather than selfishly reproduce from their own genes, and the argument could just as easily apply to them.
Infertility isn’t a curse or a sign from God that you need to dedicate your life to helping sick children. Not everyone is made for that, and that’s OK.
If you feel a calling to open your home to a special needs child, then I commend you, you are a saint, and I’ll admit it: you’re better than me. But if you’re foregoing surrogacy so you can put yourself on a waiting list for a healthy Caucasian newborn from the Midwest, then I don’t think what we’re doing is all that different.
You’ve probably noticed that I left biology off my list. Yes, if you conceive a child through surrogacy, then either you or your partner can donate the sperm. You get to do that fun thing where you say, “Oh, look, she has my eyebrows!” You might even be so lucky as to have your sister donate eggs, like we did, so your kids can be biologically related to you both. (I need to state the following every time so people don’t get confused: I was the sperm donor. Drew’s sister was the egg donor. She and I are of no biological relation. There was no test tube incest going on, nor would any reputable fertility doctor allow that.)
Ultimately, though, I don’t think the biological argument should sway you one way or the other, because the kid you have is your kid, regardless of how they came into your family. You’re going to spend a lot more time diapering them, playing with them, teaching them, learning from them and loving them than you are pondering their genetics.
Let me reiterate that I’m not endorsing surrogacy or saying that it’s right for everyone, but these are a few of the reasons it worked for me and Drew.
Once you’re a parent, it won’t matter where your gayby came from, but getting there isn’t easy, and hopefully this helped someone along the way.
I want to thank AfterElton for their shout out today – and thanks to everyone who clicked over from there to check this site out. It’s been a blast to watch those site stats ballooning all morning, and I hope you’ll all keep coming back.
For you newbies, here’s a quick overview of what Where Do Gaybies Come From is all about. I’m a happily partnered (unmarried — f*** you, Prop 8 ) gay dad to the world’s most awesome 2-year-old twins. My boyfriend and I had them with the help of a surrogate and an egg donor (his sister). We have a unique and wonderful family, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
I write about our lives, about the crazy series of events that enabled us to become dads, about being gay, plus general parenthood issues and the world of a stay-at-home dad, with special attention paid to the fun and funny stuff.
If you like what you see, please leave a comment, share me on Facebook, bookmark me, add me to your reader, subscribe to this blog in the sidebar and/or follow me on Twitter.
Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s the best example yet of the Cocoa Puff-eating evil genius named Bennett who lives in my condo.
We were playing outside yesterday afternoon, me kicking a ball, Bennett using our water table to water the plants on our back patio and Sutton… let’s say she was skipping around merrily singing “Monday Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas, which is probably what she was doing at that particular moment. (Some bands have Mamas and Papas, I tell her. Others are only Papas.)
I notice Bennett is splashing around in the plant water, getting potting soil all over himself.
“Don’t play with that, Bennett,” I say.
Bennett looks at me, registers that he’s heard what I said, then goes back to playing with the dirty water.
“Bennett, I said don’t play with that.”
He looks at me again, probably weighing the options in his head – obey Daddy vs. do this fun thing I’m doing – and goes back to playing with the dirty water.
I have to admit, I’m a little amused, but I’m trying not to laugh and encourage the disobedience. “Bennett, you do realize I’m watching you? I see you still playing with the water.”
It’s now that Bennett first chooses to speak. “Ball!” he shouts.
What?! Ball? We’re not talking about the ball. Why is this kid suddenly saying “ball”?
“Do you want to play with the ball?” I ask him. “Sure. Let’s go play with the ball.”
Bennett stands by the plant, shakes his head. “Ball!” He points at the ball.
It’s then that I realize what’s going on. Bennett doesn’t want to play with the ball. He wants me to play with the ball, as I was doing before I noticed him splashing in the dirty water. If I’m playing with the ball, I’ll be too distracted to watch him, and then I’ll get off his case.
“Ball!” he commands. “Ball! Ball!”
And then I realize he’s suddenly telling me what to do, and I’m the one standing there speechless, unsure how to respond.
Like most parents of children too young to prove otherwise, I am convinced that my kids are geniuses. Possibly even evil geniuses. Time will tell.
I have no doubt that anyone who meets Sutton can see what I’m talking about. At a mere two years of age, she’ll proudly spout off her alphabet, along with the corresponding sound each letter makes and a fruit, vegetable or animal whose name begins with that letter, before reciting “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and/or “Madeline” verbatim, off-book.
Bennett doesn’t do those things. He doesn’t strike up conversations with adults. He won’t sing along with a song the second time he hears it, somehow retaining all the lyrics. He doesn’t repeat back what Dora asks him to. And when he does talk, the sounds that come out of his mouth may carry only a vague resemblance to actual English language words.
But don’t be deceived.
If you spend enough time with Bennett, you realize that he simply chooses carefully when and what to speak. He is a master of linguistic economy, conveying with a few simple sounds what Tolstoy or Dickens might take an entire novel to express.
I hereby present to you a quick rundown of some of the boy’s most commonly uttered words and phrases, along with a translation. Consider it your Bennett Babel Fish.
Bennett means: “Blow”, as in, “I would like to hear Ke$sha’s song ‘Blow’. It is my guilty pleasure, and I am in the mood to dance.”
Bennett says: “Buh-OOOOOH!”
Bennett means: 1) “I see a balloon!”
2) “I recognize that place. We bought a balloon there three months ago. I’d like to go there right now and buy another one. ”
Or simply… 3) “Aren’t balloons nice? I was just thinking about them.”
Bennett means: “I don’t want to eat this. I’d use another of my words, ‘Gwuss!’, but I know then you’d just insist that I try it. So I’m saying ‘hot’, because then you’ll let me push it away. Yes, I know this sandwich is not actually hot, but I’m very persuasive. Trust me, this is going to work.”
Bennett says: “DAHHHH-eee!”
Bennett means: This might seem straightforward, but here, Bennett is not just saying, “Daddy”. More specifically, he’s saying, “That Daddy!” With the most subtle of inflections, Bennett is able to convey exactly which Daddy he is referring to. In our house, this is no easy feat.
Bennett means: “This is the spot on the playground where we saw a spider several weeks ago. He was quietly spinning a web, and it was the most beautiful and poetic thing I’ve ever seen. Ah, but memory is so flighty a mistress. Spider, where hast thou gone?”
Bennett means: “Me!” To the casual observer, it might appear that Bennett is mixing up his pronouns. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is his attempt to make each of us question our own identity. Who are any of us really? You? Me? Are they not just two words to identify souls we can never fully hope to understand?
Bennett says: “Me!”
Bennett means: “You! Come turn the television on for me. I’m very close to being able to do it without your help, so I assure you, these requests are only temporary.”
Bennett means: “I’ve figured out where we are. The park is that way. Why aren’t we going that way, toward the park? That is the way I’d like to go. I will repeat myself as many times as I need to until you realize you’ve missed the turn for the park.”
Bennett says: “Elmo!”
But as this fall season kicks in and the ads for new shows are everywhere, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like if my life were among them, another cookie-cutter sitcom with a goosed-up laugh track.
I wrote this first as a series of tweets, each meant to be a quick blast of elbow-in-the-gut comedy suitable for a 30-second TV ad. Taken together, they tell a sort of complete, very contrived story of the sitcom pilot someone might adapt from my life.
For the record, the blood pressure is real… but I’m still too stubborn to hire a nanny.
And speaking of Twitter, now’s a great time to FOLLOW ME.
CONDO PROMO #1
Drew gets ready to leave for work in the morning. The kids run around and play. Jerry’s still in his pajamas.
Drew: “Can you believe we have two kids?”
Jerry: “I still can’t believe it’s not butter!”
[Cue: Big laughs]
PARK PROMO #1
Jerry plays with the twins in the sandbox. A confused 5-year-old girl approaches.
Snotty Girl: Where’s your kids’ Mommy?
Jerry: She’s having lunch with the Tooth Fairy, Sweetie. Go climb a slide.
[Cue: Big laughs, applause]
PARK PROMO #2
Jerry pulls the kids away in their Radio Flyer wagon, waving goodbye to all the nannies.
Jerry: Adios, Rosa! Adios, Rosanna! Adios, Rosita!
Nannies (waving eagerly): Adios, Jerry!
Jerry (winking toward the kids): Chicks dig me.
[Cue: Big laughs, applause]
CONDO PROMO #2
Jerry’s on the phone. Bennett tugs at his leg.
Bennett: “Me want cookie!”
Jerry: “Yeah, well me want Anderson Cooper to come out already!”
[Cue: Laughter mixed with “OOOOOOH”s and one muffled “Oh no you di’i’n’t!”]
DOCTOR’S OFFICE PROMO #1
Jerry sits on an exam table, blood pressure cuff dangling from his arm. Doctor looks stunned.
Doctor: “How did your blood pressure suddenly get so high?”
Jerry: “You’ve heard of the terrible twos? I’ve got 4 of ’em!”
Jerry holds up his iPhone wallpaper of his 2-year-old twins.
[Cue: Explosions of laughter.]
DOCTOR’S OFFICE PROMO #2
Doctor: If your blood pressure was an SAT score, your heart could get into Harvard.
Jerry: Great, so now I have to pay for three educations?
[Cue: Explosions of laughter.]
DOCTOR’S OFFICE PROMO #3
Doctor: “I can’t let you walk out of my office with blood pressure that high.”
Jerry: “Can I saunter out?”
[Cue: Appreciative chuckle, one guy bellylaughs.]
CONDO PROMO #3
Drew comes home from work to find Jerry passed out on the couch. The kids draw on his face with crayons, laughing.
Drew: “That settles it. We’re bringing in help.”
Jerry: “I’m not hiring a nanny! The only one who’s going to neglect my kids is ME!”
[Bump into: promo for The Playboy Club]
KIDDIE RESTAURANT PROMO
Jerry eats mac & cheese from a teddy bear-shaped bowl with his friend Nick, while the kids run around screaming like maniacs in the background.
Nick: “What’s the big deal? Just get a nanny.”
Jerry: “Great, then it looks like the gays caved in and hired a nanny to do what they couldn’t. Two men can raise a kid without a woman’s help, thank you very much!”
Nick: “If that’s your issue, then get a manny.”
Jerry: “Pfft, male caregivers!”
[Cue: Explosions of laughter.]
CONDO PROMO #4
Jerry answers the door for a nervous Latina lady.
Cecilia: “You… interview me… job?”
Jerry: “Oh, I’m not interviewing you. They are!”
Camera whips around to reveal Rosa, Rosanna & Rosita sitting on the couch, arms crossed, judgingly.
Jerry and Drew watch, baffled, as the nannies relentlessly berate Cecilia in Spanish. She’s about to cry.
Jerry: “This is going well!”
KIDS’ ROOM PROMO #1
Jerry shows off the kids’ room to their surrogate, Tiffany (Jennie Garth).
Jerry: “Kids, you remember your surrogate, right? Aunt Tiffany?”
Tiffany: “I love what you’ve done with their room.”
Jerry: “Well, it’s not your uterus, but they seem to like it.”
[Cue: Shocked laughter – did they just go there?!?]
KIDS’ ROOM PROMO #2
Tiffany: “Y’know, my mom would make a great nanny.”
Jerry: “Doesn’t your mom hate gays?”
Tiffany: “Well, yes, but she loves kids.”
[Cue: Laughs and applause]
Tiffany ushers in her mom, Bev (Doris Roberts), who has a disgusted look on her face.
Bev: “So which one of you do they call Mommy?”
Jerry: “Get out of our house, you shrew!”
Bev: “Must be you, huh? Meow!”
[Cue: Gasps, mixed with laughter]
PARK PROMO #3
Bennett picks up a doll lying on the ground.
Bev (to Bennett): “Put that down. Dolls are for girls. And your daddies.”
Jerry: “Actually, we’re raising our children to be color and gender blind.”
Bev: “Well, excuse me, Martin Luther Queen!”
[Cue: African-American ladies laughing and applauding even louder than the rest of the crowd]
PARK PROMO #4
Jerry introduces Bev to the nannies at the park.
Jerry: “This is our new nanny, Bev.”
Rosa, Rosanna and Rosita simultaneously bow their heads and cross themselves.
Rosa (to the others): “Es el Diablo!”
All three nod, fearful.
[Cue: Moderate laughs; that one guy busts a gut again and repeats “Diablo!”]
CONDO PROMO #6
Jerry enters, his every muscle aching. Physical comedy ensues. He throws a yoga mat in anger. It lands six inches away from him.
Jerry: “Grrr! I hate yoga!!! So what did you guys do while I was relaxing?”
Sutton: “I went poop in the potty!”
Jerry: “No way!”
Bev (holding potty): “Take a whiff!”
[Cue: “Whoa!!!!!” Cheers]
CONDO PROMO #7
Drew consoles an enraged Jerry as Bev gathers her things to leave for the day.
Drew: “Remember, she’s here to keep you from having a heart attack.”
Just as Jerry calms down, Sutton runs up to Bev.
Sutton (to Bev): “I love you, Mommy!”
Jerry: “Oh, my heart!”
Jerry falls out of frame, clutching his chest.
[Cue: Laughter apocalypse, cheers]
Jerry and Drew lie in bed, nightlights on.
Jerry: “She’s rude, she’s pushy, she voted for Prop 8! She’s everything I despise!”
Drew: “Yes, but she did potty train our kids.”
[Cue: Laughs, African-American ladies saying, “Mmm-hmm!”]
Drew sighs: “Is anybody on Earth as lucky as us?”
Jerry: “Yeah. Kim Kardashian and Leona Helmsley’s dog.”
Click. Jerry shuts off the light. Darkness.
Drew: “Wanna snuggle?”
Jerry: “Ow. Yoga.”
[Cue: Wild applause, acceptance]
If it were my kid, I’d buy him the damn sewing machine.
By now, virtually everyone has seen the storyline from this week’s Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry buys a screamingly gay kid (played by a hilarious Eddie Schweighardt) a gift he thinks a gay kid would enjoy, and the kid’s in-denial mom freaks out. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here:
This episode put me, and I’m guessing a lot of people, in a very awkward position – that of agreeing with Larry David for probably the first time ever.
Sure, the kid’s only 7 years old, so technically, he’s not anything-sexual yet, let alone homosexual. But that’s not the point. The kid wanted a sewing machine, so what kind of heartless parent would take it away from him? I’m hoping in 2011, only a fictional mom would be so cold. (The storyline did seem a little dated, at least when it comes to Manhattan moms.)
My kids are only 2, and I wouldn’t begin to speculate on who they’ll want to marry, date or live platonically with someday. They’ll work out those issues for themselves during their painful adolescences, no doubt. Good luck, kids! Let me know if you have any questions!
In the meantime, they can play with whatever the hell they want. We’re in kind of a unique position, having boy-girl twins. We don’t have “girl toys” or “boy toys”, just toys. Sometimes, Sutton likes to roll the trucks around, and sometimes, Bennett plays with the dolls. I don’t mind, and I don’t read anything into it.
I know the world will tell them soon enough what it thinks boys and girls should and shouldn’t do, but our kids are not going to get any judgment from their dads.
Yes, their dads. That’s the tricky part. Our home is a mom-free zone, so if our little girl really wants to explore her feminine side, she’s kind of screwed. It’s not that we wouldn’t support it. It’s just that Drew and I are kind of clueless about that stuff.
For my money, there’s nothing cuter than a little girl in pigtails. But you might as well ask me to splice an atom as to put them in. I mean, I wouldn’t even know what equipment I’d need to start. We’ve had a number of attempts at pigtails, but they always end up in screams, tears and, eventually, a pathetic asymmetry. My daughter deserves better.
I’m not even sure where a barrette is supposed to go or why the hairbands always look so weird when they come down across her forehead, Olivia Newton-John style. Isn’t that where they go?
One thing we can pretty much guarantee, though… if Sutton gets some fancy thing in her hair, Bennett’s going to want one, too. And seriously, could you say no to this?
Thankfully, Drew got a tip from another gay dad he knows, a guy with twin daughters of his own who had no idea at first how to pretty them up.
“It’s all on YouTube,” he explained. “Girls teach you how to do their hair. That’s how we learned.”
Most of the time, the only one I hear laughing at my jokes is me. That’s why I love doing readings, because there, you too can hear me laugh at my jokes!
If you’re free on October 2nd, come see me read at Parenting Out Loud. Details below. It’s for a good cause, Valley Charter School. And maybe it’ll help me get my kids in there someday.
The brilliant and hilarious Stefanie Wilder-Taylor has written a brilliant and hilarious post at Babble called 7 Things Not to Say to a Mom of Twins.
I started off writing a comment to her about how perfectly she captured the range of reactions I get from strangers when I’m out with my twins. But I quickly realized I had too much to say to leave it at that. So instead, I offer a point-by-point corroboration of her piece, from a gay dad’s perspective. Here goes.
1. You are doubly blessed. I get this often, and my response is always to say, “Yes, I am, thank you” and then wheel the stroller the hell out of there as fast as I can. I know most people who say this are just being nice, but when their opening line has even such mild religious overtones, I worry that a string of follow-up questions about my family is going to lead them to start quoting those Bible verses about men lying with men and praying for the souls of my kids. Maybe that’s just my personal hangup, but hey, I just came to Target to buy toothpaste. It’s not worth the risk.
2. They’re twins? Really? They look so…different. I hear this almost daily, usually followed by, “But the girl looks so much bigger”. Well, gee, thanks stranger, for giving my TWO-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER a head start on her eating disorder. In fact, my son is half an inch taller than she is, and we’ve taken him to a gastroenterologist to make sure his inability to gain weight isn’t a sign of a real problem. Turns out he just has the kind of metabolism his sister will grow increasingly jealous of as she gets older.
Ironically, I also get people who ask if they’re identical… a boy and a girl. I have to stop myself from taking their diapers off just to make a point about what “identical” means.
3. Did you conceive them naturally? Okay, this has only happened to me once or twice, and I don’t mind talking about it because I’m happy to tell people our story… as long as I know they won’t get weird and judgy about it (see #1).
4. Do twins run in your family? I have the perfect response to this one. “No, but neither does surrogacy.” OK, I have yet to say that out loud.
5. Oh God, if I had twins I would die. It’s amazing how many people say this. I want to respond that their kids are very lucky not to be twins, not only because their mother would be dead, but because if you don’t think you can handle twins, you can’t. Case closed. I actually think most moms (or dads) could handle raising twins if they had to. But the people who say this? Not a chance. They’re probably not even very good with whatever kids they do have. There, I said it.
6. I always wanted to have twins! I don’t mind this one. It gives me a chance to talk about how lucky I am and how amazing twins are. But what am I supposed say… “Too bad for you then!”?
8. You’ve got double trouble! Stefanie didn’t list this one, but I’m guessing she hears it occasionally. How do I know? Because I HEAR IT EVERY TEN SECONDS OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. This is the number 1 reaction people give me BY FAR when they see me with my twins. I like to think they’re referencing the short lived 80s sitcom starring Katey Sagal’s sisters. But I think they probably overheard someone else say it once and thought it was clever. Well, maybe, but not by the 1,000th time you hear it.
When someone tells me I have double trouble, I just smile politely. “Yes,” I say. “I’m doubly blessed.”