Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.
When my son turned seven earlier this year, I had a couple of simultaneous epiphanies. First, I realized Jon was now the age I was when I experienced two of the most significant milestones of my life. Second, he’s going to remember a lot more from here on out, so I’d better get my shit together.
ME AT SEVEN
Not long after my seventh birthday, I did what every good preacher’s kid does around that age — I got “saved.” Accepted Jesus into my heart. In non-Baptist layman’s terms: I officially became a Christian. My father baptized me shortly afterwards.
My motivations were probably typical for a seven-year-old; a mix of peer pressure, avoiding Hell, and a sense of inevitability. Having been taught about salvation since birth, there was never any doubt I’d end up born again. And fear of eternal damnation aside, there was some comfort in knowing I was fulfilling my duty as a Good Son.
In thinking about this from my own fatherly perspective, it’s more meaningful to me than it has been for quite a while. Notwithstanding my spiritual path from that point until now, I can only imagine how special it was for my father to have that moment of bonding, when he baptized me in front of his congregation. I aspire to such moments with my own son.
The other milestone from that year was on a much less public scale, but equally significant. I had my first dream about a boy.
I don’t recall the dream being overly romantic or sexual; it was the intimacy that struck me. A faceless, nameless boy and me, both naked, sitting side-by-side on the floor by my bed. I don’t remember how I felt immediately following the dream; yet after coming out as gay nearly 20 years later, it was the point I looked back to and said, “This was the first time I knew.”
While I have memories from as early as two-and-a-half (hello, little brother … goodbye, only childhood), seven certainly sticks out at as a watershed year.
“Big, stylish dad” isn’t a phrase you hear a lot. Dads in general get a bad rap for being devoid of any fashion sense beyond cargo shorts and sports gear. And if you’re size XXL or above, you’re hard pressed to find clothes or shoes that aren’t bland or tacky.
Nevertheless, I persist in incorporating my designer style into my plus-sized dad wardrobe. It takes a good deal of creativity, and more than a little luck.
Recently I was lucky enough try out some shoes from Jambu. I’d not heard of them before, but liked what I saw of their men’s collection. Looking ahead to warmer weather, I decided on their Zion sneakers.
I don’t do a lot of memes, and I dole out parenting advice even less frequently. But this is a message I’ve had drilled into my head by therapist, friend, and husband alike, so I thought if I made it into a pretty graphic I might believe it more. And that it might help some other parent believe it, too.
Also, feel free to totally ignore this “advice” about being a “good enough parent” — because, you know, it’s on the internet.
Stay strong, be well, talk soon.
So I did some work with Marvel Comics (I ❤️️ typing that!), where I talked about everyday heroes. I nominated my friends the Scheers for Marvel’s #WhoIsYourHero campaign. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that.
As part of the gig, Marvel sent me some cool superhero merch so our family could play dress up, mug for the camera, and display the true essence of our own superheroics. Not content to just pose and shoot, I called upon my mutant design powers (and my family’s patience) and spent some time tinkering in Photoshop and Procreate.
Presenting, my family — as our Marvel Superhero selves.
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Adventurous & headstrong; loves to make a racket and swing hammers around the house. 🔨 JON is… THE MIGHTY THOR!
I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.
A Family of Super Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!
I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.
On Valentine’s Day, I shared my not-so-scientific gay/straight Relationship Comparison Study. It illustrated some of the ways gay and straight parents differ, many of the funny ways we’re alike, and how all our relationships need a little help sometimes — the message behind Plum Organics’ fun Do Your Part(ner) campaign
I also mentioned that my husband and I took Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) Pledge, making a commitment to try some new ways to rekindle and reconnect. I’m here to report back on our successes and failures, as well as to give away a bunch of nifty Do Your Part(ner) kits from Plum I’ve unofficially named BOX OF BOW-CHICKA-BOW-WOW.
Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.
Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.
< record scratch noise >
Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?
The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.
So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.
You guys. YOU GUYS! Check it out — my son’s first ever lunch note! < beams with fatherly pride >
A little context
I’m writing this on a plane to San Diego for the Dad 2.0 Summit, where I’ll be for the next four days. I left at the butt crack of dawn, so didn’t have time to do a proper lunch note. “Proper” meaning the notes I make for my 7-year-old on the daily since he first set foot in school; meaning the Red Turbo Power Ranger he had requested I make for his best friend.
As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.
One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.
Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.
So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.
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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.
What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
For seven days in July, I and eleven other dads hiked 90+ miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. We walked to fund a camp for kids whose parents had been touched by cancer. We walked to honor our friend Oren Miller, who had died of cancer the year prior – and for whom the camp would be named. We walked for those in our own lives impacted by the disease, including several in our group. But we also walked for ourselves.
The experience was exhilarating and exhausting, thrilling and tedious; breathtaking — both literally and figuratively. It was the undisputed apex of my year, and near the top of any other.
Until now, I’d only shared about the walk on social media. Life and all its complications — and my perfectionist tendencies — kept me from documenting it properly here.
But in light of the announcement that the University of Maryland Camp Kesem will officially come to be this fall, I thought it high time I collected my thoughts, memories, and images from that life-changing week in a more permanent fashion.
I still haven’t decided if this can be done in one post or seven (or something in between), so bear with me as I return to the rolling hills of Northern England and allow this epic outing to re-unfold.
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