My Favorite Part of Being a Parent


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

43 comments on “My Favorite Part of Being a Parent

  1. Mr. Mahoney I take offense. Because I’m working late and you have me all misty eyed in the edit bay. I loved your post. All of it.

  2. I’ve been reading your blogs for awhile now and never commented, but reading this post I had to – I’m so happy your younger you was wrong, your kids are very lucky to have you for a dad! Congrats on having the life you dreamt of way back when

  3. Soooo Super, duper sweet. And so true to my own heart about parenting that I had to go get my box of tissues. Yay equality! Not only for gay parents, but that a man gets to experience poop in the laundry (or, let’s face it, poop everywhere eventually). Have you washed a diaper or pull-up yet to experience the gelatinous covering of an entire load? That’s fun too! Thank you for your beautiful, insightful, witty writing. I enjoy your take.

  4. Oh my…what a great post. I love, love, love your passion for life. When you are a parent that is the absolute only thing that matters. I also need to confess that I am madly in love with Grover and have been ever since I read “There is a monster at the end of this book” – wishing I could find a copy that didn’t cost more than $20!! Ugh. Anyway – kudos daddio – you’ve got some lucky (and super cute) kiddos there! 🙂

  5. I recently came upon your blog and I just love it. I am a stay at home lesbian mom and can identify with alot which you write about. Love your sense of humor.

  6. Absolutely beautiful. All of it. And I sympathize with the poopy smelling laundry, though thankfully we’ve moved onto other things like rotten food left in laundry. Ick. Wouldn’t really trade it 🙂

  7. This post is particularly poignant for me because my gay dad stayed married to my mom for 26 years, in large part because he wanted a family. 40 years ago, a gay man having a family was just a pipe dream. Hats off to you and Drew. Your kids are so very lucky.

  8. Perfect post and perfect timing. I was having one of those frustrating, infuriating, and exhausting times with my 2 boys just moments before breaking away to sit and have my morning coffee in peace and quiet. When I finished reading this I found myself all choked up and teary-eyed while laughing at the same time. Certainly made me stop and remember how much I really do love it…all of it!
    Thank you, I bet a lot of us needed that little reminder. Great stuff!!!

  9. Dear Jerry: I’ve written before but I feel obligated to tell you, as a self-appointed
    laundry queen, you have to check and shake out the stuff before you put it into the washer. Yes, the pockets, too. You have realized what the rest of the world is only coming to know: that parenting is pretty much the same for any good parent, gay, straight, undecided or dinosaur. We do our best and we worry. My baby has been in the IDF for 2 years and I can honestly say that I’ve had 2 1/2 good nights of sleep since she was drafted. My older daughter who is LGBT, left NYC and went to live on a farm in PA in an attempt to get away from it all and find herself.
    I am thrilled that you have gotten to live out your dreams of having a family, and one day a hubby. For the new year next month, may we all know enlightenment and peace.

  10. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: being a parent is the bee’s knees, all that and a bag of chips, the reason for being for me and so many others. So glad that Sesame Street characters still make kids happy.

    Thanks for sharing your world.

  11. Despite the fact that I am not gay or a guy, I kind of know what it feels like to really want to be a parent and feel like you never will get that chance. For convoluted reasons I don’t want to blurt out in your comments section, it seems unlikely that I would get the chance to be a parent, even though I desperately want to be. I definitely know the feeling of watching all your friends become parents, and of going to a place like Disney World and seeing all these families and feeling sad. I am glad for you that you eventually did get to have a family… I hope I do too someday!

  12. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! As a Mom of two grown children, I still value each & every moment I get to spend with them. Being a parent is one of the most challenging & rewarding life experiences any of us could ever have. Your children are so fortunate to have you as their Dad!

  13. Thanks for sharing! Made me realise I’m so lucky to have my two kids…. Yeah, you’re right… Although some days, me too, I can’t wait for the kids to fall asleep, but all in all, it’s totally worth it….

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