Last night, as I opened a beer seconds after putting my boys down, I felt gratitude that they most likely won’t wake for 10 ½ hours. I am so lucky to have sleepers.
As I sipped, I thought about gratitude. It was a Hallmark Channel moment. And I was reminded: the strongest thanks I can give this (and every) year is to my mom…for making me a dad.
I write about her in the past tense. Six years ago, she died unexpectedly from a cardial arrhythmia. Doctors said it’s the way we all want to go: one second you’re here, then you’re not.
I was suddenly an orphan (my father passed when I was 8 years old). There are worse tragedies in the world, but in our culture, 32 is young to be parentless.
Thanks to our close relationship where nothing was left unsaid, I wasn’t bereft. I was sad, but I’d be ok. That’s a tribute to her.
And to my surprise, her passing freed me.
Prior to her death, I suffered from indecision endemic in my generation. I hemmed and hawed about my direction, my choices and my purpose (and…no small matter…my sexual orientation.)
But after Mom’s passing, “life’s too short” hit home. I couldn’t feel beholden to social convention or my mom’s expectations (imagined or not) for my life. So I chose to be happy. And my boyfriend made me happy.
Then we got a dog! I mean…monumental commitment for me.
And I always knew I’d have kids. I might have wrestled with identity, but I knew kids figured into my future.
With my new independence and happiness, fatherhood seemed possible. And then, Because of Mom’s planning, I inherited an unexpected chunk of money. It didn’t catapult me into the 1%, but it allowed my partner and I to afford the expensive process of surrogate pregnancy.
I know the world is full of children in need of adoption. But my extended family is so small, I can count all aunts, uncles and cousins on eight fingers. It was important to me to pass on my genes, along with my name.
Even though Mom felt dubious about my life with another man, she inspired me to eschew insecurities and choose happiness.
And thanks to…well…her prudent financial investments, she gave me kids.
And I’m so grateful to laugh (and complain) about them, here.
Thanks to my mom’s example, I know how to be a good dad, a good partner and a good man. I know her joy for my family would be unconditional and irrepressible. I sure as hell wish she could read “I Stink” with them, take over playing Thomas, criticize me when force-feeding my stubborn 18-month-old, or console me during toddler tantrums.
But she’s with me every single day. The proof is in the whining, giggles, diapers and spontaneous, “Daddy, I love yous.”
My kids don’t understand the concept of giving thanks, yet. But I look forward to making eyes roll as I lecture them that “Thanksgiving isn’t about school breaks, football, or irrepressible little boy farts caused by gorging on turkey and Brussels sprouts.”
Nope. It’s the non-denominational, non-political, non-nationalistic day to feel gratitude.
And damn it: they will eat those Brussels sprouts.
Don’t forget to lecture and annoy your kids about giving thanks.
Gavin Lodge is a Broadway performer, father and blogger. This essay was first published on Daddy Coping In Style.
WOW! What a Great Dad……..His MOM raised a really Good “MAN”…………Thank You.
Sweet story, but Thanksgiving is the most political day of our time. Stores like Walmart and other similar chains are turning a day of thanks into a day of greed, by having Black Friday be a part of Thanksgiving. We all are being pressured to expect to have a massive feast and to get luxuries for cheap, and Black Friday is notorious for selfish and aggressive shoppers. On top of that, Thanksgiving commemorates a really great story where Native Americans were generous with European settlers. European settlers responded with a God-willed Manifest Destiny bloodbath, slaughtering families and cultures all along the way. Guns and diseases and broken contracts and herding humans like cattle left a legacy that absolutely exists in today’s world. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, but don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s not a political day.
I suppose surrogacy is all fine and well. To each his own. If I decided to have a kid, I would go the adoption route. With 600,000 children in the U.S. waiting to be adopted, I think the need for loving parents is so great that surrogacy is out of the question. I feel similarly about dogs. How can you even consider spending between $300 to $2,000 on an AKC dog when upwards of 3 million unwanted dogs are euthanized each year?
That is such a sweet sweet story. I hope he and his family are having a great time.
@E T: That would be human nature (ie it sucks and usually involves selfishness and cruelty), and if every single slaughter or conquest is political, we have not one day where political stuff didn’t happen.
@E T: All you need is a mural in the background and I swear you’d pass for Leslie Knope.
“irrepressible little boy farts” SURELY THE CHILDREN OF GAY MEN WOULD DO NO SUCH THING
I find it amazing that someone sees the need to apologize/explain such a personal decision as to how to have children: adopt versus surrogacy. Choices like this are so personal and so complex that no explanation or rationale is needed; what is more, any set of reasons is likely to be incomplete due that complexity.
You are raising two children. Do the best you can and enjoy them. THAT is the best thanks you can give to their grandparents.
Why do his kids have to eat brussel sprouts? Adults don’t eat foods that they don’t like; where do parents get the idea to force kids to do it? It always seems like child abuse to “force feed” your kids anything. @Chris: I have to agree with “Desert Boy”. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on surrogacy so you can “pass on your genes” seems selfish and narcissistic when there are so many children who need homes. You could spend that money to take care of the kids you adopt.
Dear Gavin: I just loved your story. I’m sad to hear of your mothers recent passing. My wonderful mother passed away 13 years ago after a long bout with COPD. I miss her terribly, especially during the holidays, and sometimes I cry and want to have my mother alive at least one more day so I can tell her I love her and I’m ok and turned out right, I hope. Several years before she got sick, she told me that she just wanted me to ‘find someone great and have a happy life’. All this from a devoutly Catholic woman. Mothers have a way of knowing that their kid is gay without the “discussion”, that so many gay people dread, that of coming out to your parents. I was raised Roman Catholic and still practice that religion. I haven’t found that special guy to make a life with, but I’m open to possibilities and have faith that I’ll meet someone great soon. You’re right when you said that “life is too short”. Too many of us don’t live life to the fullest and worry about unimportant trivial things that we can’t control. Two years ago I had major spinal surgery. While in the hospital recovering, I thought I’d met a great guy, one of the nurses in the hospital. I got the feeling he was interested in me. I asked him out for a drink after I got out of the hospital and he disrespected me . He turned out to be a jerk, his loss. It has been two years since my surgery and I’m still dealing with the after effects of the surgery. I know I’m better for the surgery and will make a full and complete recovery. It takes a major life changing event to make you appreciate the preciousness of life, how quickly it can go. Maybe someday, I’ll be a father, who knows? Kids can be the greatest reward. All the best to you your partner and children!.
Sweet! However, I don’t think I’d ever raise children with a man, which is okay for me since I’m bi. I want to give my kids a chance to get the love I got and still get from a mother. Most fathers (like mine) and men are useless and don’t really don’t love their children as much as their mothers, not to mention most cheat. Maybe it’s in the blood.
@Desert Boy: And there are plenty of single women available. You don’t need access to marriage equality when you can just marry a woman.
@jwtraveler: Apparently humor confuses you. The brussels sprouts bit was humor. As for adoption being superior to surrogacy, marry a woman. You don’t need marriage equality when there are plenty of single women available.
@JimmyJ: Troll here often?
@AnitaMann: That makes no sense. If you think gay marriage and reproductive surrogacy are in any way equivalent, you don’t just ‘nitaMann, you ‘nitaBrain. And I don’t need marriage equality.
@jwtraveler: You need some common sense, sweetie. Your a bigot just like the anti-marriage equality folks. Own your bigotry, Honey, even though it aint pretty.
So I’m a bigot because I don’t agree with you. Interesting. Who does that sound like? Yes, the “Christian values” folks who tell us that LGBT people are immoral because we don’t share their view of the world. You’re (it’s a contraction of ‘you are’, genius) close-minded…Honey!
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
This is exactaly what happens when freaking foggot sodomites get together are allowed to marry and have children…………
And it’s absolutly amazing and wonderful!
This is awesome! Way to go, Gavin! I am going to check out his blog. One question I had was why he hasn’t married his partner. They live in New York State, which legalized same-sex marriage 3 years ago. Getting married would protect their assets in the event that something happened to one of them and it would send a message of stability to the kids. Hopefully, they are thinking about it.
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