Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
Mother’s Day has a different meaning for gay male parents. I’ve heard that some split the holidays (one takes Father’s Day), some involve the birthmother or surrogate mother, and some ignore it all together. Personally, we always fell somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it, and I borderline got offended when people wished me “Happy Mother’s Day,” even though it was a perceived nice gesture. The bottom line – we all have a mother. Whether or not she is directly in our lives, we all have that in common and mothers should be revered with the utmost respect. I, for one, hold my son’s birthmother on the highest pedestal possible. Here’s why:
It was a normal Thursday night. I picked him up from school – later in the day because he has an after-school program, and he was in a stellar mood. We went to the store and picked out our dinner – he wanted chicken so I bought a rotisserie (I’m no cook, but I’m a reheat wizard). Homework and dinner went very standard, and he was all-around pleasant and content. We got ready for bed – I brushed his teeth and put on his PJs. I read him his book of choice (currently hooked on “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss), and then suddenly he seemed off/upset. I asked him what was wrong, and after a few whimpers, he looked at me in the eyes and said “Daddy, I want to talk to my Mommy.”
To give you a brief background, we adopted Briggs from birth, and it was an open adoption. That means that there is no secrecy about his origin, and hopefully, there will be continued contact throughout his life. His birthmother has always been wonderful and there when he needed her, but his birthfather has been absent since before his birth. Over the past few years, the divorce was all consuming, so his birthmother and I lost touch. In December (2015), I finally sent her the dreaded text: “I am now divorced.” She was very shocked, understandably, as she felt our long union was solid. It was a brief exchange, and I told her a little bit about what Briggs had been doing. I didn’t push it, and left the conversation at that.
She used to come over for Christmas, so I took tons of pictures of the two of them together. When he asked me to talk to her, I immediately sent her a secret text asking if she was available. Then I brought Briggs to my computer, sat him on my lap, and showed him all of the pictures of his past. He loved it. He was smiling and interacting and asking questions and truly enjoyed seeing himself as a baby, and with her. I checked my phone and noticed she texted back with a very enthused “of course I can talk!” I said to my son “sweetheart, would you like to talk to your Mommy now?” His eyes lit up, and he practically grabbed the phone out of my hands.
Listening to the two of them talk was unbelievably heartwarming. Normally he’s a little shy at first, but that night he was chattier than a lunchroom lady. She asked how he’s doing in school and he emphatically explained his different classes and what he has learned. I was holding back tears and cuddled him as I observed his entire demeanor change. I also felt extremely proud of myself for being able to make that happen for him. When the conversation was over, it was a little awkward. Then he broke the silence with “I love you, Mommy!” and she replied “Oh, I love you too honey.” That’s when the tears poured out, there was no escaping it. I sensed their love – it was palpable.
Some of you may ask if I feel threatened by any of this, and to put it simply, not at all. She is his only mommy, and sometimes he’s just going to want to reach out and know she is there. Their relationship might even grow, which I would nurture and encourage. I feel the more people that love my kid, the better – end of story. Love doesn’t have limits or boundaries – a child could have 16 parents and love them all. None of that matters. What matters is his happiness, and I’ll do anything for that.
As he lay there and went to sleep, I texted her and asked if she would like to see him soon, and she said “whatever he wants!” I asked him if he would like that, and he again lit up with excitement. I can’t exactly say what precipitated all of this to begin with – perhaps he just sees other kids with their mommies and wants reassurance that he has his. He is aware that she is only marginally in his life, and is also aware that I am pretty much taking the mommy role. That being said, I’ll never be her, nor want to be. She technically gave me the best gift I’ve ever received in my entire life, and for that I will be eternally grateful. If my son wants her in his life, then I’ll make damn sure she is.
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