For the better part of the past year, my favorite moment of the day, every day, has been the moment I go in to get my daughter from her crib. When I open the door, she looks up at me, smiles and giggles with happiness. I remember the first time she did it and how it felt like nothing else in the world. It was such a sweet moment, and I get to live it every morning when I go to get her. No matter how difficult my days get, that moment starts every day as a great one.
Mia is turning 1, and I've thought about the last year of my life as a dad. My decision to start a family as a single gay man probably fell somewhere between the "ignorance is bliss" theory of life and just plain ol' crazy. I had Mia via surrogacy. Kim and I had each begun a surrogacy journey with someone else, but both journeys ended before anything happened. Then we were brought together, and I don't know if I thought it then, but I think now that we were brought together for a reason. She's wonderful, warm and loving, and she and the rest of her family are, quite simply, great. Because of their generosity and love, I can't imagine having had Mia without them, nor can I imagine our lives without them. They're now our family. Despite the process of having a kid through surrogacy and all the financial, legal, logistical and emotional planning, it was a relatively smooth process for us, and I'm extremely fortunate for all of it. It was after Mia was born that I thought I had some sense of what I was getting into, but just like any expectant parent, my vague intellectual understanding just meant that I really didn't have a clue. But after a year as Mia's dad, I've come to learn a few things, none of which feel like I ever thought they would.
I love being a dad. It still feels weird to say I'm a dad, yet it feels so right. Every day is better than the day before it, and each day I fall even more in love with my little girl. Being a father has given me the ability to love with a depth that knows no limits. As a reformed perfectionist and someone who compartmentalizes things (in other words, I don't do emotional mess), it's completely deepened my connection with and love for those I care about and makes me grateful for them and the special bonds we share.
I was surprised just how complex my feelings about my life now have been. Everything is now simply more. Mia brings me more happiness than I ever imagined a person could; I love her more than I ever thought I could, and she's opened me up to loving those around me more deeply too. I'm more exhausted and frustrated than ever before, but oddly more energized. My life is more nonstop than ever; before Mia, I couldn't have imagined being this busy, yet somehow I figure out how to get through every day. Loving and encouraging her has probably been the easiest part of being a dad. However, it's been how I've approached being a parent that has made me shift my outlook and perspectives about everything and everyone else in my life, which has been such a rewarding surprise -- an unexpected gift from being a dad.
I'm not a perfect dad, and I don't have a perfect daughter (indeed, life would be boring if either of us were perfect), but I'm fulfilled in a way that I never knew I could be, and in a way that I never knew I probably needed to be. It's hard as a single father; it's a sort of balancing act akin to walking on a high wire without a net, something that I think just about any parent would understand. There's the obvious stuff -- I used to be a very punctual person, but a year into fatherhood I still suck at getting out the door with her to get anywhere on time ("on time" being redefined as 15 minutes late), and things don't always get done, and sometimes I run out of time, or, more likely, motivation, to get certain things done -- but what I've come to learn is that I do what I can, and that is enough.
I'm fortunate that I live in a city that's open, diverse and accepting, which has allowed me to realize my dreams. A lot of what I experience I think is universal for any parent, gay or straight. How I became a father may be different from most, but now that I'm living life as a father, I don't really think I'm very different from my straight friends who are parents. We all love our kids and try to be the best parents we can be to them. That and we're all tired.
However, where I struggle the most -- and I think this is compounded by the fact that I'm gay and single -- is trying to figure out how to have a social life. I know that my social life won't look like it did before Mia, and that's fine, but it's taken a long time during this first year to understand that I need to work harder to find a way to somehow strike some sort of balance. And dating? Yeah, right. That's probably the biggest challenge, meeting and falling in love with someone who shares dreams of a future together, who wants to be a dad and is someone I trust to be a great father to Mia someday. Does that man exist? Yes, I'm certain of it. Will I ever get to share my life with him? I hope so. My daughter has opened me up to that hope. If it happens, we'll be a bigger, happier family. For today, though, Mia and I make up our family. She's a happy, chatty, funny, curious, smart, well-behaved, fun, beautiful girl. And to be her dad? That makes me the luckiest guy in the world.
"A Day in a Queer Life" is an ongoing blog series that documents the unique struggles, joys, triumphs, setbacks, hopes and desires of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people living in one of the six countries currently featuring a HuffPost site (Canada, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States). Each week a different blogger from one of these countries shares his or her personal story and perspective on what life is like wherever he or she resides. Want to share your own story? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can take part in "A Day in a Queer Life."Read previous entries in "A Day in a Queer Life":
- Giuseppina La Delfa (Italy): "Being a Lesbian Mom When Families Like Mine Still Aren't Recognized"
- justin adkins (U.S.): "Just One of the Guys"
- Antonio Vila-Coro (Spain): "'Dad, Kids at School Are Saying You're Gay'"
- Olivier Steiner (France): "An Ordinary Day"
- Peter Tatchell (UK): "Being Peter Tatchell"