I often wonder how many boys imagine being a father when they are young? You always hear that girls know they want to be mothers when they are young. They are encouraged to play with dolls and people remark at what a ‘good little mommy’ she is and how natural it comes to her, but what about a boy who happens to do the same thing? I want to believe that at this point on Earth parents are encouraging of their children to do what they want. If their son wants to play with dolls and be a ‘good little daddy’ they will foster that behavior. I know that’s not really the case for everyone. I was allowed to play however I wanted and I can thank my mother for that. She allowed me to be who I wanted to be.
When I was younger I knew that I wanted to be a parent of at least two children – my dream was six (I was obsessed with The Brady Bunch which is kind of ironic now knowing that Mike Brady was gay). As I got older that dream I had as a child never went away. I imagine most high school aged boys assume that yeah someday I’ll get married and have kids, but this was part of my life plan. I wanted to be a young parent too, not like Teen Mom young, but not one of those parents who get mistaken for being a grandparent. I would graduate college, get a job, get married soon after, and have kids. I know being an only child definitely played a part in this dream, what I never planned for was how being gay would play into this dream.
I had a massive stuffed animal collection as a child, including some Cabbage Patch Kids, three to be accurate. One of those were actually a Cabbage Patch Kid knock-off named Stacy. Stacy had black hair and her head was shaped slightly different than the other two Kids, but I think this is why I liked her so much. I don’t even remember my other two Kids’ names, a boy and a girl, except for the fact that they were blonde like me. Stacy was like the two blonde Kids’ cousin, basically an only child – an only child like me.
Around this time, my younger cousin and uncle were living with us so I felt less like an only child. I think every only child dreams of having siblings at least at some point in their life and now was my chance to live ~the dream~ even though I knew it was only temporarily. My cousin is seven years younger than me and if you do the math you may realize I could have been a little older than most boys with massive stuffed animal collections and anthropomorphized Cabbage Patch Kids. I marched to a the beat of a very different drummer. I imagine this is what it was like for Stacy and her blonde Cabbage Patch Kid cousins.
When I was in college I met a girl who lived across the hall who would eventually become my wife. She was the only person I ever told that I was bisexual. She was fine with that, or at least she said she was fine with it. After college we got married and a little over a year later we had our first son. My childhood dreams of being a parent had come true. Stacy would have been proud of me I bet. Not long after our first son was born we found out we were having another child – they are 16 months apart in age. About a year after our second son was born I started to really struggle with the idea that I was actually gay and not bisexual. I struggled with what this would mean now that I was a parent. I struggled with the fact that I may have been so driven by this childhood dream to have children that I got married just to have my own biological children. I wondered if Stacy whispered things in my ear while I was sleeping. I came to the realization that I was in fact gay and couldn’t stay married to a woman – my wife and best friend. I came out on New Years’ Eve. Could I have been any more dramatic? I was now an openly gay parent.
Being an openly gay parent was never what I imagined while playing with Stacy and my other stuffed animals. My boys are getting older and I’m still struggling to understand what it actually means to be a gay parent. I’m the only one I know. I like to think I am doing a good job, but the cliches are all true — being a parent is the hardest job. I think about Mike Brady, or rather Robert Reed, and so many other people that had to live (or still live) a secret life for whatever reason, and think I’m lucky to still have the same support I did as a child. I’m still allowed so much freedom to be me. I think back to playing with Stacy and realize how could I be so naive to hide who I was and wonder why I chose the path I chose. I know if I didn’t choose the path I chose my boys wouldn’t be here, and I will never regret that. I do regret throwing Stacy away, though. Sorry, girl.