By Frank Golden
Going into parenthood as a gay man, I understood that my children would have an upbringing different than other children and different than my own. There were things I just didn’t consider, things that heterosexual parents don’t have to think about. Mother’s Day is one of those things. For us, Mother’s Day is not the celebration of our children’s mother; they don’t have one in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, Mother’s Day is the celebration of their family. Our children are being raised with two dads. For the most part, being a gay family has been natural. On certain occasions, though, we are reminded of how truly unique our family is.
When we enrolled Sophia in daycare, Mother’s Day was not on our radar. We emotionally and financially prepared for our family, much like other families. We also prepared for the adversities our family might face. We were prepared for it all- except for Mother’s Day. It was just one of those things you don’t think about as a new parent, but as your child grows and learns, so do you. And once Sophia and her classmates were old enough, the daycare addressed Mother’s Day, and as a class, they made gifts for their moms. I should say, most of them made gifts for their moms. Our daughter did not.
The Friday before Mother’s Day, Adam and I picked Sophia up from daycare, just as we did every other day. This time, Sophia, along with her teacher, presented each of us with a gift- a Mother’s Day gift. They were little hand-painted vases, authentic Sophia Golden originals. Each vase was wrapped with a ribbon, one read Daddy Adam, and the other Daddy Frank.
That same Mother’s Day weekend, I went to the orthodontist for a regular appointment. The office staff handed flowers out to moms visiting the office. At the end of my appointment, the staff handed me a flower, not because I’m a mother- obviously, I’m not- but because I’m raising a family. I did not expect a flower that day. And I did not expect a beautiful hand-painted vase either. Sophia’s daycare and the orthodontist made it natural. They made it fun. They made it their own. And that’s what I encourage all individuals, schools, businesses, or whoever else, to do- to deal with uniqueness in their own way based on what they feel is right.
I’m incredibly grateful for the gestures, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed if instead of two gifts, I got none. For me, anything goes. If Sophia had been given a different project instead of a Mother’s Day project, that would have been okay too. We’re raising Sophia to be okay with being different. As a gay parent, I’m okay with being different. I have to be. I just don’t want our differences catered to- not by a school, or by anyone else. It’s one thing to be different and another to be treated different. I want for my kids to embrace what makes them unique and for the world to embrace them back. Unfortunately, I can’t control the perceptions of others. All I can do is raise them right, and instill confidence in who they are and who we are as a family.
As of right now, I can say with conviction, that Sophia is incredibly proud of her family. A couple of weeks ago, our family went out for dinner with Adam’s parents, his brother, and his sister-in-law. An older woman approached our table, looked at Adam’s sister-in-law, and complimented her on having such well-behaved children. This kind stranger wasn’t trying to be offensive; she simply assumed that we were a “normal” family. To Sophia, though, having two dads is normal. “That’s not my mom, silly,” she said, “These are my dads.” With her little fingers pointing in our direction, she smiled at the lady, and the rest of us laughed. It made no difference if this woman didn’t understand our family. Sophia does. And quite frankly, that’s all that matters.
This Mother’s Day, we approached it much like we approached one’s in the past- we expected nothing but love from our children. Sophia is not enrolled in daycare anymore; she graduated to preschool. And while I know we live in a liberal area, I made no assumptions about her new school and about whether they would acknowledge us for Mother’s Day. Turns out, they did. When we picked Sophia up from school this past Friday, she presented us with a beautiful piece of art, another Sophia Golden original. It read, “I love my daddies because they love me.” It’s the best gift I got this year- the second best being another flower from my orthodontist.