A Gay Man Gets Real About Life as a Single Dad
Jason Guberman is a 42-year-old single gay dad living in New York City. We caught up with him to learn about parenthood and life.
Please share your journey to fatherhood.
I always figured I'd be a father, but it wasn't until my twin sister had her first kid that I really thought about doing it. Deciding to have a kid was the easy part, but I had to decide if I wanted to do it as a single father. It was surprisingly an easy decision too. I sat with it for a few weeks and when I started telling family and close friends about my decision, they couldn't have been happier or more supportive.
I decided to go the surrogacy route; for some reason, it was the only option I really considered. I ended up with a different agency than the one I started with and was matched with two carriers that for different reasons didn't work out. But eventually that led me to Kim and her wonderful family, and both our journeys were opposite sides of the same coin – she was matched prior to me and it didn't work out – and so it seemed like we were just waiting for each other.
It was almost exactly two years to the day from the moment I started the process to when Mia was born on April 3, 2012.
We're still very close with Kim and her family and I even helped connect Kim with a family friend and his partner for her second journey as a carrier. She and her husband are Aunt Kim and Uncle Chris to us. I haven't had to explain the relationship yet but Mia has always known them as an aunt and uncle and so they're just a part of her life.
What are your biggest parenting challenges?
I think the biggest challenge is trying to fit it all in on a daily basis, knowing that I have a lot to get done. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing it all, so I have to push through it all in order to make everything work.
There are days, even when I set reminders, I'll forget to do something and then it becomes a scramble to do it, like make a doctor's appointment or complete a permission slip for a field trip.
I still grapple with finding a way to balance a social life outside of play dates. I keep promising myself to work harder at it, but you know, sometimes it's just too tiring to think about.
How do you juggle fatherhood, your career and dating?
Not very well! Seriously though, every decision I make, whether it's thoughts about my career, who I'd want to date – just everything – is through the lens of providing and doing the best I can for my daughter.
I've juggled my life mostly by prioritizing, starting with Mia and then working through everything else. It may sound trivial, but for me I can think of an example that really was one of those Oh, wait, this is how I can do it moments. We had a pretty good schedule down where I was able to drop Mia at preschool early enough to go to the gym before work. That was great ... until she turned 3 and her behavior led to my schedule changing. I was frustrated and I wasn't getting to the gym. I lost that hour that was just "me" time and so mentally and physically I was fatigued and not feeling great.
Then I realized two things: first, I was getting better dealing with a "three-nager" and second, I couldn't take feeling like that anymore and decided to make a change. So I'd take an hour at work, whether it was at lunch or just a random hour I had free, and go workout. I made it work and it ended up making me happier, more focused and energized and therefore my days improved.
I usually get up a lot earlier than my daughter. It may be early, but I actually enjoy the quiet time to have my morning coffee and just ease into the day. Other than that, I'm not so sure I'm really very good at making time for me.
How do you make time for Mia?
I just do. I have been very fortunate because I've been able to pop out of work and get to her pre-school for an event or performance. I love being there and to see her smile from ear to ear because I'm there means everything to me. But also, just the small moments are great too, whether we're walking home at the end of the day or she'll come sit on the couch next to me and move under my arm to cuddle. It's finding the quality time that counts so much more than the quantity.
What do you consider to be the most important lessons you're teaching Mia?
I'm really big on compassion and kindness, from small every day things like having manners, to being considerate of others. While I love hearing when people compliment me on how well mannered she is or how pretty and sweet she is, a couple of people have told me how impressed with just how much empathy she has for a little girl her age. That means so much to me.
I'm also really big about my daughter being strong and independent, which I think a lot about for her as a girl who will one day be a grown woman. There are some amazing women in my life whom I admire who serve as great examples for teaching my daughter that very important lesson.
Describe your perfect day with Mia.
My perfect day is when I look at Mia and see her smiling this sweet smile of hers that basically says she's loving whatever we're doing. Or she'll tell me how happy she is.
I love the beach and so I take her and now she's at the age where she has a blast from the moment we get there until we leave. Recently we were at the beach standing at the water's edge and she was holding my hand and just looked up at me and said, "Daddy, I'm so happy."
Mia is very polite and very sweet and when she said that, or whenever she randomly says something like that to me, I don't think a day could be any more perfect than that, even if she happens to throw a fit for some reason that seems completely absurd later that day.
Do you have any advice for other gay men thinking about fatherhood?
I often hear a lot of guys talk about how they wish to do it ... someday. I think if you really want to be a father, do it. It's about walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
But I will say that whatever you think it's like, once you become a father, you'll laugh at yourself because you'll understand that you had no clue. Nothing, not being an uncle, not having a dog, will ever come close to preparing you for having a child of your own. I think you have to let go of expectations of what it'll be like, or think you'll be able to balance it with the life you currently have, because it won't even come close to looking or feeling like you could ever imagine.
But with that said, for as hard and challenging and exhausting as it is, it is worth every second!
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