Gay Dad Life

Picture-Perfect Christmas Chaos

I spent most of the morning hot-gluing the Virgin Mary’s head back onto her body. I should have known better than to let the twins play with the nativity scene my mother had sent; she had bought it at the mall but claimed it was made from wood from the Holy Land. Before I knew it, Mary’s head had rolled under the sofa and Leo was running around the living room, Joseph clutched in his left hand and Baby Jesus in the other.


What had happened to our stylish Christmases, our tree decorated with ornaments curated from our world travels: the papier-mâché globes from India, the wooden humming birds from Cuba, the delicate paper butterflies from China? Who had decorated the Christmas tree with tennis balls and dog biscuits? Who had started ripping wrapping paper off gifts, unraveling ribbon, and stealing ornaments? Life with toddlers is a never-ending cycle of organizing followed by destruction.

Leo Leo grabbing baby Jesus out of Thomas the Tank Engine

Through all of the holiday chaos, the mess, and the present buying all I have wanted since Leo and Luna’s birth is to make a family Christmas card. I wanted to be like all my friends who sent out those glossy photos of happy family dressed alike, holding their new baby. I desired the flawless smiles, the matching crisp white shirts, the moment when life looks uncomplicated and perfect.

Determined, this year my husband and I took the twins out to the beach. The four of us wearing Santa hats marched onto the sand, the air brisk. It was one of those amazing Vancouver winter days full of light and cold. We herded the twins onto a log, set up the camera, and held our breath through rehearsed smiles and prayed that both children were looking at the camera. After the camera went off in a glorious barrage of clicks, Leo and Luna ran off in separate directions and Derek and I approach the screen carefully.

"Please, please,” I pray, "one good photo." As we scroll through the images we say in tandem, “Not that one. ... and not that one. Nope. Oh, that’s not good ... Definitely not! ... No.”

By the time we had gone through the all frames, Leo had buried his Santa hat somewhere on Sunset Beach and Luna was using hers to collect rocks. Another attempt at making a Christmas card had ended in failure.

Luna, our serious crafter and I tried our hand at painting cards; the few that were made went to family. And as the season went on, our mailbox filled with those wonderful Christmas cards from our friends. ‘Tis the season to be envious of the rows of white teeth, the manicured Christmas trees, and even that archetypal holiday card set in the woods complete with a sleigh and a rented Santa. Ready to release my inner Grinch, I tear open a card from a family friend and in it, a holiday miracle. Santa holding one baby: happy, eyes engaged with the camera, a sincere smile only a 2-year-old could create. His brother was caught in mid-scream. A scream so primordial, so savage, it almost ripped through the paper. And a message that only a parent of toddlers could write: “Happy Holidays from our babies doing what they do best.”

Luna about to eat baby Jesus Luna about to take a bite out of baby Jesus

And as I write, I am watching the twins back at the nativity scene trying to undo the hold of the hot glue. Leo shakes and shakes and shakes the manger until Baby Jesus comes loose again. They turn and smile, that smile that only 2-year-olds can produce when they’ve done something they shouldn’t. They turn, run, and before I know it, Baby Jesus is riding in Thomas the Tank Engine’s freight truck, around and around the tiny plastic railway, while Leo and Luna are singing "Happy Birthday" at the top of their lungs.

"Happy Holidays," I think to myself, as Leo and Luna do what they do best.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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