“Why do you love me?”

How do you answer a child’s innocent question of “Why do you love me?” in words that they will understand?

How can I convey–

From the moment that I saw you, you owned me.  Every dream that I ever had of having my  own child has been completely overwhelmed by the reality of you.  I always thought that I wanted to share my life with a child so that they would remember how happy my life had been, but I never realized how much more happiness that child would add to my life.  I see you smile and I light up.  I hear your huge belly laugh and my soul quivers.  I see you sing, dance, act and play the piano, and I feel that we have a connection over the things that we both love.

I see you read, and I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I have helped you acquire this skill that you will use every day for the rest of your life.  I remember the tickle fights, the hours of giggles, the hugs and the bad “knock knock” jokes and I know that my life is better because of you.  I have the memory of holding you in my lap as we watch fireworks over Cinderella’s palace at Disneyworld, and I know that for as long as you live, you will hold that memory of us together in that perfect moment.  Even after I am long gone, you will have memories of us, both good and bad.  And you will know that you were loved beyond your deepest understanding.

So how do you respond to that question so that a child will understand?  I simply say—“because you make me happy, proud and smile every day of your life.  Thank you.”

And that is enough!

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Biblical Scripture/Bullying

Ok, this daily blogging thing is difficult.  I can write when there is something on my mind to “inspire” me.  But that doesn’t happen often enough so that I feel that I have something important enough to blog about.  But I have one right now.

 

We are studying a movie called “So the Bible Tells Me So” in our Sunday school class.  It deals with how churches deal (or don’t) with the issue of homosexuality.  Our church is very accepting to ALL people, as this Sunday school topic must show.

Recently, we were discussing how Scripture has been used to discriminate against homosexuals.  As a recovering Catholic, I had plenty to say on the topic.  We had broken up into small groups, and we had a lovely lady who was from my mother’s generation.  She was very honest in saying that she did not have any memory of the bible being used to discriminate against anyone.

I then brought up the topic of how women don’t fare well in the bible either.  At that point, she did say that when she was a young girl she had dreamed of being a minister or an architect, but that women “did not do that”.  I did get her to agree that she got those ideas from her parents who got it from the Bible.  She says that she has had a happy life, but there is that hint of “what if” in her eyes.

I have to tell you that this made me incredibly angry and sad.  I can’t imagine putting ANY kind of limitations on my children!  Our children already say that “girls can’t do that”, or “that isn’t for boys”, and I am VERY quick to speak up and tell them that there is NO SUCH THING.

On one occasion, the were having battles and the winner became KING of the WORLD.  When my daughter won, the boys told her that since she was a girl, she couldn’t be KING, but that she would have to be QUEEN.  I told them that she had won fair and square, just as they had, so she WAS King, just like they were.

My son makes statements about dance classes, and how boys don’t dance.  I remind him of boys in my daughters dance recital who do dance, of dancers on broadway that he has seen, men on Dancing with the Stars, or male dancers on So You Think You Can Dance (yeah, I know, I like too many TV shows).  Then the coup d-grace, is when I tell him that both of his fathers have been in shows and that we have danced.  I tell him that boys CAN dance.  It is all about their choices.  It is HIS choice not to dance, but that he has to be understanding about other people’s choices.

I use television very heavy handedly and I am the first to admit it.  We watch Star Wars, and I point out the strong females who help fight the Empire.  I point out male dancing, and I point out brides looking for wedding gowns when they are not a size 8.  I will use anything to show my children that there are different kinds of people in their world and that they all deserve happiness and respect.

I worry that they are going to be overwhelmed by my “lessons”, but they are learning lessons outside of our household that I feel are damaging to what kind of person I would hope that they become.

I try not to control or bully them, but I worry that I do by trying to instill my values.  But I also want them to see both sides of the situation so they can learn to make their own informed decision.

Parenthood is not for sissy.  You have to be ever vigilant and ready to discuss the tiniest detail.

 

Or am I wrong???

 

Family Values?

I would rather value MY family than to have family values!

Am I the only one who thinks that those who spout “family values”, don’t really value families, unless they are the cookie cutter creation that has evolved into so many other varieties of a family.

What is the “perfect family ” ?  A mother and a father?  What about if they are always fighting, be it verbally or physically?  Does that still mean that this idea is better than a single mother raising a child?  A single father who has lost his wife to some awful disease?  A lesbian couple or a gay couple are not an equal ideal?

What is a family?  What are values?  Both questions have a million different answers that are both right and wrong, depending on your point of view.  Or, depending on your “values”.

I believe that a family is any group of individuals who love and respect each other.  I believe that their love is unconditional; that their love is unending.  It isn’t simply based on biology.

When I look at my children, I see their resemblance to me, both physically and mentally.  I also see my partner in them.  Not so much physically, but in their mannerisms, their language, and their ability to formulate their ideas.  I remember at one time, I referred to my daughter as my “little Latina diva”.  She is not a Latina. She is African American and white.  She  only LOOKS Latina.  Or the time that the grocery checkout clerk told me, “You are always gonna have to pay child support to that beautiful boy, cause he is your exact twin!”.  I told her that he was adopted and she was shocked.  Appearances can be deceiving.  My children are MY children because of the love we have created within our family.

I won’t ever change someone’s mind if they don’t value my family, and I have accepted that fact.  But if you don’t value my family, then you don’t value me, so you don’t really have a place in my life.   But realize that I am not going to de-value YOUR family, because then I would be just as guilty of the same sin.

I don’t always understand another person’s values.  I enjoy discussing and learning, even if it doesn’t accomplish understanding or acceptance of each other’s ideas.

I would just wish that at the end of the day, you would RESPECT my family.  I am not asking for anyone to value me or my ideas, but value my FAMILY.  They are their own people!  They will be exposed to my ideas and my values, but they will pick and choose what works for them.  All I can do is lead them, but they will choose their own way.

Just as my parents didn’t FORCE their life on me.  Just as they probably wouldn’t have chosen the life that I am leading.  They may not have accepted it fully, but they have come to RESPECT me and to value my family.

The one value that I have put into my children are the words to a song—–

“You can be anybody that you want to be, You can love whomever you will, You can travel any country where your heart leads, and know I will love you still.  You can live by yourself, You can gather friends around, You can choose one special one.  But the only measure of your worth and your deeds, is the love you leave behind when you’re gone.”

I hope that my value is proven by the love that I will leave behind when I am gone.

Living in the land of “In Between”

I am a gay, hispanic, married man with children.  Imagine filling out any form with all those little boxes to be checked….

Male    Yes  (but since I am gay, I have been called  a woman wannabe.)

Married, Yes (but not recognized by my country)

Religion–why do you need to know that.  (Grew up Catholic, but recovered.  Converted to Methodist, but I am really more spiritual than religious.)

Children, yes (but my state doesn’t allow same sex adoptions, so it takes fancy paperwork to accomplish it.)

I was educated in a school that had only 4 non-white students.  So I didn’t have any hispanic peers outside of my family.  Whenever I was around hispanic kids, they told me that I thought I was “white” because of my friends, my behavior and my intellect.  And white kids were more accepting except that they did limit our friendship from time to time because I was “mexican”.  I was too white for hispanics, and too hispanic for whites.  When I got into a public high school, this was a very painful issue.

I am a man.  I am gay.  So I am judged as in between in that regard too.

I have been with the same man for 24 years.  We adopted our first child 8 years ago, our second 6 years ago, and we were married in British Columbia 4 years ago.  Both gay and straights ask why we are “pretending” to be “normal/straight” when we are not.  Again, the land of in between.

When did you first notice how people judged your life?  How did it make you feel?  Do you defend yourself by confronting them, or just ignore them if they don’t have an on-going impact on your life?

I agree with Oprah that when you get to a certain age, you come into your own power and self-worth.  In my forties, I came to realize that I was worth a lot more than I had ever believed myself to be.  I think it was my child who brought out my spirit to its’ fullest.  I knew that it was my obligation to her to show her pride and self-worth.  I had to set the example.  I had to be the honest me.

A new baby brings so many opportunites for honesty and education.  “She is so cute.  She must get all that curly hair from her mother! How lucky that she gets to be with Dad while Mom is at work!”  “Her mother didn’t have curly hair, she may have gotten it from her biological father.  She has two fathers and I am the one who gets to stay home and raise her.”

It is heartening to know that if I answer these types of comments with honesty and and open mind, people react in kind.  There may be a second of awkwardness, but it is all gone quickly.  I have never had an ugly moment of judgment when I am out with my children.

They are both bi-racial–African-American and white–but they look hispanic.  They go to a predominantly hispanic school.  It is a charter school.  We chose the school for academic reasons, but also for the diverse children enrolled there.  Our children live a “privileged” life, but we wanted them to be aware that not every child has the same kind of life.  They should enjoy their life, but also see that there are other ways of life, equally as good as theirs.  It is another “in-between” issue to teach them to enjoy their privileges but to not grow up to feel that they are “entitled”.

It was coincidental that their pre-school had two other families with same-sex parents.  My kids don’t see anything different with their family. The children used to all call me Papa when I came to pick them up.  And their peers have yet to say anything bad about their family.  There is one incident that shows you that there is hope for the future.  Their school requires that parents volunteer a certain number of hours to the school.  This can be done with chaperoning field trips, helping with school fair, etc.  So we have both been involved with both of the kids classes and know their classmates.

I had volunteered to do some work in the school library one afternoon.  Coincidentally, my daughter’s class was scheduled to come in to return and check out books for the week.  When her class entered, one of her friends said “E, your BROWN Dad is here!”  They are aware that she has TWO fathers.  They don’t see anything wrong with it.  All they notice is skin color, and not even in a judgmental way.  Maybe we are on the right track!

We get questioned as to whether we are going to incorporate their African-American heritage into their up-bringing.  What does that mean?  How would you suggest we do that?  They celebrate Kwanzaa, MLK day, they know that they are bi-racial.  So what else should be done?  I am not so sure that we should focus so much on one specific race.  I would rather focus on the human race.  I am proud of who I am and where I came from.  But I am prouder of where I am going.  And that is how I want them to grow up.

So I have been and continue to be in the land of “in between”.  But I am enjoying it much more than I ever have.  My children are also there, but I am trying to make their life there better than mine was.  Wish me luck!

Ramblings of a Gay Stay at Home Dad

Hello World. My name’s V, what’s yours?

So does quoting Mama Rose from Gypsy show you right away that I am a gay man? Haha.

I don’t know if anyone will ever read this but I feel a creative outlet will be good for me and less expensive than a therapist.

Don’t expect a continuous timeline because at the age of fifty, and two children, my brain doesn’t work that way anymore. I am used to doing so many things at once that my brain functions better in chaos.

I don’t know how much backstory I should tell, since I really feel that I only became interesting once I became a father.

I am a product of the last century.  I used to sit in school and think that if I could live until the year 2000, that would be enough and that I would be ready to die.  Now that I am 50, I can’t imagine being ready to die at 40!!!  I am going to hang in there until they have to pry my hands off every item that I can grab onto to stay here.  It is amazing and amusing what you consider to be the truth when you are young!

My parents were your typical, messed up pair of individuals who should never have gotten married.  My father had issues with alcohol and fidelity.  One bad habit fed the other.  My mother was long suffering and had self esteem issues (or so I thought).  I never understood why she left and reconciled with my father over and over!  It wasn’t until I was 30, did I ever feel like I could ask her what the hell she had been thinking.

She finally told us, that my father had told her that she could leave anytime she wanted to, but she couldn’t take his children.  And if she tried to do something through the courts, that she would lose.  Who would even consider an unemployed high school dropout to be the better parent?  He would win and he would never let her see us again!  Ain’t I proud of him!!!

I have to say that I am grateful to my father much more than you would think.  He taught me how to be the man that I am.  Completely opposite of him!  He once told my sister  (in front of me) that he would love her children more than mine because he would ALWAYS know that her children REALLY were his grandchildren!  I find it humorous that I adopted and he never got to meet my kids.  He would have loved my son.  He also told me that he would rather see me dead than married to a white girl!  So I was quite proud when I married a white boy.  Hope he is happy over that, DOWN THERE!

I have been with my partner for 24 years.  We were married in Victoria, British Columbia in 2006.  Our daughter was the maid of honor, and our son was the best man.  We were married in a Unitarian church, with some members of the congregation in attendance.  There was no one there that we knew.  Just our family.  And even after two decades, standing there, saying the vows, looking at him with my children there with us–I cried!  It was overwhelming that it was a glimmer of “normal” life that I thought I would never have.

I will jump back and forth in time, cause my mind works that way.  But for now, I think I need to talk about parenthood.

My partner and I had been together for 16 years when we decided that we were in a position to adopt a child.  It had always been a dream of mine to have children.  I used to say that I wanted a boy and a girl.  They would be beautifully dressed, beautifully behaved and as near to perfect as I could imagine.  In reality, they are in clean clothes and no one has been arrested for anything–YET!  But if it is going to happen, it will be my son.  He has amazing powers of intelligence and communication.  If he channels his gifts into good, he will rule the world.  If he chooses the dark side, he will STILL rule the world.

My daughter is a beautiful, intelligent and talented girly girl.  She loves the piano, ballet, clothes, dolls and is fixated on her hair.  She loves attending the theatre and has even been on stage.  She is a pleaser and is very upset if we are upset with her.

My son is a straight man.  There is absolutely NO DOUBT of that fact.  He is rough, loud, rambunctious and argumentative.  He gets into trouble and then will loudly argue that the choice he made was right and that everyone else is WRONG!  But I wouldn’t change anything about him, except his volume setting.

I think that we got the children we were meant to have.  They each have attributes of both of us.  They are socially adept and self assured.  They are comfortable in many situations, they are well traveled, and they can argue their point of view with any adult.  I have friends who say that children of gay parents are miles ahead of children of straight parents.  They are more social because they are exposed to so much more.  They have more self confidence because they grow up knowing how MUCH they were wanted.  They know what their parents had to go through to get them into their family.  They don’t doubt for a moment that they have always been loved.

I remember holding my daughter on the first day of her life on earth.  It was amazingly humbling to finally be aware of how much I had been loved every moment of my life just for the simple fact of being born.  It was startling to also realize what my mother had felt.  The feelings of love, self sacrifice, and protectiveness.  And how I had never given any of that a thought.