A few months ago, I wrote a piece about what my first year of fatherhood has meant to me. I then decided to submit it to this site; it was accepted and posted a short while later completely by chance on my daughter's first birthday. I never gave a thought about how people might react, but the responses from those I know or have known at some point in my life have been remarkable. I have been truly astounded and humbled by the extraordinarily kind words from everyone.
I'm now coming up on my second Father's Day, and I have to admit, it still feels weird to call myself a dad, and I guess at some point I'll get used to it, but I really love saying that I am. Last Father's Day, my daughter had recently begun smiling, and that was hugely rewarding, which made the day great. This year, she's becoming a little person. She laughs all the time, is walking now, says a few words ("Dada" being my favorite, naturally) and definitely has some strong opinions about things (not unlike her father). I look at her and smile at all that she means to me. I take advantage of that now because I know there will come a day that she'll roll her eyes at me, tell me I'm corny and that it makes her feel uncomfortable. She's supposed to, which is why I'll secretly love that too.
In the time since that first blog post was posted, Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota have all passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Since it's now June, Father's Day is right around the corner, and it's Pride Month. There's something about Pride that never fully resonated with me, but now that I'm in a certain place in my life and a father, my pride is much subtler, but much more powerful than I ever could have expected. Because of all this, I started thinking about what it means to have the recognition of being legally married and why it's important, especially in the context of having a family. Now, of course I have to think about what it means to have someone in my life, because it means that man would also become part of my daughter's life. Finding someone to share a life with is amazing in and of itself. (Really, how lucky can two people be to find each other so they can be the greatest together?) And then to have children and grow a family is what I think of as the sweet stuff that makes life great.
When I finished writing the first article, I thought that would be it; I would have said all that I needed to say, would have shared for the first and last time in a very public yet direct and vulnerable way and would have moved on with the my life. It probably doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that is exactly what did not happen. In fact, it was just the beginning.
What was a reflection of my life as a father during my daughter's first year also turned into the moment where I sort of drove off the cliff into a much deeper understanding of who I am, how I live my life and what I see as my journey. It hasn't been easy (it feels downright impossible sometimes), but it's been worth every second, because it's gotten me even closer to an understanding of who I am, which has been thrilling and exciting, and although I'm not afraid of life, it's also been incredibly scary.
I live my life with purpose, and in a way where I have sought to live an honest one, one that is truthful. It took many years for me to do so, but now that I have a number of years of living that way under my belt, I don't know how I could live my life any other way. It's why I returned to school full-time in my late 20s to become a lawyer. It's why I came out. It's also why I became a father. Because I've owned my life in a way that's present and self-aware, I've been able to achieve a lot of what I've sought to achieve. But it's been through my journey into fatherhood that I've realized just how powerful that has been. Although who I am as a person fundamentally hasn't changed, being a father has evolved and informed me in ways I never thought possible. I would say it's completely deepened everything I know about myself, and I've thought a lot about that when thinking about a future with someone, because that's who I am, and that's who the man I will share my life with will know. The road to fatherhood as a gay man takes planning, commitment and determination in a way that is just different from others. Becoming a father was something I've always known I wanted, but it's how I became a father and, more importantly, when, and the circumstances that I did as a single father, that was my choice. Perhaps maybe it's because I'm older and have more perspective now that I can understand that through this journey I know just how worthy I am to have all that I want in life, and that despite the challenges, anything is possible.
I'm spending my Father's Day with my daughter on a special daddy-daughter weekend adventure out of town. She's too young to be able to remember it, or really understand it, for that matter, but one day I'll get to tell her all about it, and perhaps she'll understand the importance of it because of all that I was experiencing during that time in my life. Having my little girl and the hope that I'll get to be lucky enough to be with someone where we both get to raise her and grow our family is why everything I'm doing in my life is worth it.
My first post ended with me writing about the idea of falling in love with a man, someone with whom I can share a life. I may not have a lot of certainty with a lot of things, but I am still very certain that man does exist. I believe the man who is the right one for me naturally has all the qualities that make him an amazing father because he himself is amazing. While he gets a package deal with my daughter and me, it'll be he and I who get to share a life and be the greatest together. Someday, when we've grown old, we'll look back on our journey together, and when we do, I hope he'll know that no matter what challenges were thrown our way, my life with him, while not perfect, was the perfect one for me, because I got to have that lifetime with him. For me, it's living wholeheartedly that is a life worth living. That is my pride.