Gay Dad Life

A Papa’s Struggle With His Post-Baby Body

I grew up in a small desert town in West Texas where there wasn’t much to do, but every once in a while my parents would take my brother and me to the drive-in on the edge of town. With each passing mile the sky would fade from blue to black to something richer and more promising. With each passing mile my 7 year-old body would swell more with excitement.


The first drive-in movie I saw was "Clash of the Titans." I remember being amazed by the Kraken, Medusa’s snake covered head, and heroic adventure into unknown lands. But what I remember most was Harry Hamlin as Perseus swaddled in white linen and his right pec always bare, glistening, and camera ready.  I remember my heart skipping a beat every time he was on screen.

I had fallen in love for the first time.

That was the moment, I knew I was different – different from my older brother who would somehow smuggle Playboy Magazines into the house and never spoke of Perseus shirtless in a sandy arena the way I did.  From that moment and well into my twenties, I spent a great deal of energy hiding all those emotions that bubbled up watching Perseus fly off heroically and bareback on Pegasus into a blue mythical sky.

Many years later, I left that sleepy town for the big city where I quickly learned that everything they say about gay men and everything my mother warned me about is true. Everything. They dress impeccably. They have every show tune ever written memorized. They will always have the best Halloween costumes. And they are all cut, and I mean Marky Mark, washboard-abs cut.

I entered an unknown world of go-go boys, mixed drinks bigger than a small child, manscaping, hair products for men and the gym. The gym. That mythical place full of sweaty bodies, tank tops, flirty trainers and biceps for miles. I was young and impressionable – and I wanted to fit in. It wasn’t too long that I too had that heroic Greek glistening chest, those immaculately sculpted eyebrows, and a tan that would make Zeus envious.  The big city whipped Greek and urban myth together like soymilk into a protein shake.

When I met my husband we worked out together, shopped together, and ran together; I’m going to say it: We were hot. Life couldn’t be better and we couldn’t have been tanner or more waxed to hairless perfection.

But after the twins were born, my life went from Clash of the Titans to Clash of the Twins. Gym time quickly turned to feeding time, bath time and playtime; everything was replaced by the rigors of keeping up with two demanding babies.

I was like a many-armed god, simultaneously feeding, tandem burping, and performing synchronized diaper changes. I took on most of the night feedings, which were a challenge: as soon as one baby fell asleep the other would wake up. At the time it didn’t seem like they were taking a toll on my body. After all I was on a steady diet of coffee, M&Ms; and Pinterest. I felt like I could stay up indefinitely.

The late hours of the night, between feedings, were spent sinking into the visual vat of Pinterest, eating, and constructing a wedding board for my daughter, Luna, not yet a month old. What better way to stay awake than with a bowl full of chocolate covered peanuts and Vera Wang?

Months passed and the babies grew. I also grew. Handful-by-chocolaty-handful, those pounds add up. I was cursed with the curse of only being able to fit into sweat pants.

What had happened to my modern pompadour, my pecs, my tan? All gone. And suddenly everything that people said about gay men was no longer true.

But I was taking care of twins. I had an excuse. I had to eat chocolate to say awake, right? This is what happens when you become a dad. I was almost 40 and it wasn’t me, it was my metabolism. Even I couldn’t believe that one.

The author Gil and his husband with their twins.

What as the point of creating of wedding board for my daughter if, at the rate I was going, I wasn’t going to be healthy enough to walk her down the aisle? Why spend so much time methodically feeding the babies if my idea of eating was ripping open a bag of candy?

Having babies and being a stay-at-home dad means getting to know yourself and the world differently. It means treating your body differently and figuring out ways to take care of yourself while taking care the many needs of babies.

For me, it started with no longer driving and getting a souped-up jogging stroller.

The babies and I started walking everywhere. And when the babies were old enough, we started jogging everywhere.  And I discovered that jogging not only calmed two fussy toddlers, but it was also a great way to teach them awesome phrases like “Go, papi, go!” and, “Beep, beep, here we come!”

With each mile we ran, I slowly regained so much that was lost during that first year of late night and binge eating. We ran in the rain, though muddy trails in Stanley Park, over bridges, around the Sea Wall. We ran to gymnastic class, music class, dance class. We ran enough to train for a marathon. No matter where we were going, we ran.

But running wasn’t just about dropping a few pounds or getting my pre-dad body back. It was also about being quick enough to catch two toddlers mid air who suddenly jumped off the bed simultaneously. It was about making sure my arms will not fail me when I pick up one sleeping toddler from a car seat, then the next, unlock multiple doors, call the elevator, open my front door, and finally slide them into their beds. It was about my back not faltering for the last piggyback of the evening, no matter how deeply my daughter’s Barbie dolls pointed feet are pressing into my side. It was about my legs finding new power as I pick up my daughter to run after my son who has decided to run into bike traffic.  It means that, after getting up in the middle of the night for weeks, month, even years, my body will not let me down and still marvelously awake at 5:54 a.m. to play with trains. It means being healthy to one day walk my daughter down the aisle.

My body is not that of Greek perfection. It never will be that well tanned, toned, or waxed again. And I will forever be jealous of any shirtless photo of Ricky Martin sculpted and walking his groomed twins along a manicured and sunny South Beach.   

There is no use in lamenting the past or envying celebrity dads. Dads and Papas, honor your new bodies; the new body that can push a double stroller in the rain. Honor that body that can herd a group of 3-year-olds on the beach. Honor that body that can carry a backpack replete with diapers, rain boots, a change of clothes, and snacks for days. Honor that body whose arms have learned to carry your babies heroically into unknown adventures wildly new and full of promise.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Falling for Fall: 33 Photos of Gay Dads and Kids at the Pumpkin Patch

Oh my gourd, it's fall! To celebrate, we rounded up 33 pics (and whole lot of pun-kins) in our annual fall photo essay!

Don your checked shirt, grab them apples, and shine those smiles while perched on pumpkins — it's the annual fall family photo op! A trip to the pumpkin patch and / or apple orchard is a staple family fall outing, and we're here for it. 🎃🍎🍂👨👨👧👦

Thanks to these dads who shared their pics with us! Share your own to dads@gayswithkids.com and we'll add them to this post!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse