"Not About Me Anymore?" Not So, Says This New Gay Dad
It's common to hear new parents say that having children means it's "not about you" anymore. But Ryan Michael Sirois says now that he's a dad it's more about him than ever before.
On May 16, 2017, Olivia and Connor decided it was their time to enter the world via an emergency C-section. We received a call at 5:30am from the agency asking if we were ready to be parents. Up to that point, dozens of people asked, are you ready? Our answer was generally the same: I think so. We had already gone through so many hurdles just to get pregnant, it was hard to imagine being any more prepared.
I had no idea the magnitude of change in store. Almost eight months later, we are in a new home with teething babies who crawl, eat real food and remind us daily how unbelievably lucky we are. How insignificant the surrogacy journey was in comparison to the wealth of fatherhood. It's corny and cliché, I'm very aware, but it is also true. Nothing could have prepared us for becoming dads – no book, no YouTube video, no pep talks or preplanning. In hindsight, the best advice we were ever given, which wasn't really intended to be advice, was someone saying, "You'll figure it out." Apparently the magic secret to being a parent is to figure it out as you go along.
But I'm so thankful it all happened when it did. We wanted to be parents for years, talked about it, dreamed of it, but for some reason it wasn't in the cards. We thought we needed a certain amount of money saved, we needed to be in a better place career wise, had to be in the right home, had to develop a stronger sense of self to provide a more stable foundation –
When these babies came, we were ready, whether we believed it or not.
The author, after being thrown up on
In eight months I've been shit on, peed on, thrown up on. I've done an unthinkable amount of laundry, changed an ungodly number of diapers. I've learned a new level of stress while discovering an unimaginable level of love. I've seen my family in a new light as they've embraced these twins with an unshakable love, bonding with my children in a way that warms my heart. I've watched my son fall out his stroller face first onto a cement floor, heard my daughter's head smack the tile when she fell from our bed. I've seen these two babies laugh uncontrollably, love unconditionally and discover the very beginning of what it means to be human. I've seen these under 6 pound newborns grow to almost 20 pounds, from being completely dependent on us to crawling and holding their own bottle. I've felt myself change – truly felt my mind, body and spirit evolve in a way it never has. I've seen clothes that were far too big become far too small, newborn diapers rotate to number 3 diapers. Our dogs have repeatedly raided diaper cans, destroyed expensive kid toys and lick those baby cheeks as if they were their own puppies. I've seen my boyfriend, who became my husband, become co-father of our twins and that feeling alone is indescribable. Together we have faced this new life with the same determination we've faced everything else – an honest reflection on what the fuck is going on – the great times, the hard times and the stuff in between. We love hard and fight rough, but we try to keep it honest and do the best we can for each other – and now for our family.
In eight months everything has changed while still so much remains familiar, like watching the same movie twenty years later with a totally new perspective. For whatever reason the movie American Beauty comes to mind. When I first saw that film I related to the teenagers and their angst, rebelling against crazy parents and suburban life. I recently watched the movie again and, while I still find the Annette Benning and Kevin Spacey characters to be insane, I suddenly have a deeper understanding for their journey. Each character in a place where they lost themselves, neglecting their own needs and ultimately drifting apart. Being stuck in the monotony of what is expected from society and loosing sight of passion, of freedom, of self exploration. Realizing there is more to life than the manufactured illusion in plain view, becoming restless, reckless and hungry for more. It was a new comprehension of a film I thought made clear sense years before.
Things are changing.
And as things change, I am left to figure out who I am in the midst of it all – as a father, as a husband, as a son, as an individual today. There's no guide for unraveling new versions of yourself, let alone how this newly uncovered person functions as a human in society. Suddenly there are new responsibilities without the luxury of letting someone else do the work for me. These two amazing little humans are in my life, two little people who I feel I've known in so many lives before. I'm not scared of screwing them up or being a terrible father, I genuinely believe no matter what happens I will provide a good foundation.
And they give me so much strength simply by existing. They show me that life is a constant series of changes and all I can do is try my best, lead with integrity and find acceptance. Or something like that. To be honest I'm not entirely sure – and that confession in itself is me trying my best – to be honest and accept that I'm figuring shit out just like everyone else.
People say now that I'm a dad, it's not about me anymore. But I am beginning to think it's just the opposite. I'm beginning to think now that I'm a dad it has to be more about me than ever, so I can ensure I'm the best version of myself for them. If I don't put myself first, take the time to find my peace – whatever the hell that means – then I will never be the father I want for my children. I've learned that in order to operate at my highest frequency, I have to be selfish. I have to take time to do things that bring joy to an otherwise strange mind. And most of that time requires me to first actually figure out what brings me joy, because for so long I searched in all the wrong places. And what helps lift my spirit today can be very different than what worked a week ago because, guess what, things change.
Those wide-eyes and moldable brains absorb whatever energy, action, emotion, word or intention I release. If I put them before myself, if I abandon my path to care solely for them, I'll be shit dad. I have years of experience to prove this not-so-mystified truth, with a track record of putting people on pedestals and equating exterior things to happiness – when none of that has brought me the same level of wholeness as truly taking care of myself.
I want to be the best dad I can be, but more importantly, I want to be the best human I can be. And all the books, the workshops and seminars out there can't help me if I'm not willing to take action and make change. If I'm not willing to allow myself the space to breathe.