family traditions

“He doesn’t have a mom… because she’s dead.”

July 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Mommy's Dead
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HOW IT HAPPENED

So here I was, my not-small frame perched on the teeniest of tiny wooden chairs, clad in a retina-searing-orange t-shirt emblazoned with my son’s preschool logo, waiting for the class to be corralled before we headed to the petting zoo for a field trip. All of these kids knew me as “Jon’s Daddy,” the one who picks up — as opposed to “Jon’s Papa,” the one who drops off. There are other quite noticeable differences, but I can imagine that from a 4-year old’s perspective, we’re both just gigantic, bespectacled, goateed man-parents.

Yet it still came as bit of a surprise when I overheard my son’s classmate say, “Jon, your Papa’s here!” As expected, my son quickly corrected his chum, and things seem to be right with the world.

There was a lot going on, kids hopping up and down, excited about the field trip, distracted by the several parents scattered and squatting around the room. But amidst the melee, I hear mention of “mommy” something. I turned back toward my son and his posse, and the same friend exclaimed to all who would listen, “Jon doesn’t have a mommy… because she’s dead.”

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Boys Kissing Boys

July 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Boys Kissing Boys

We were winding down from a particularly drama-filled play date. There had been sharing-related skirmishes; LEGO lay strewn about the playroom like carcasses on a battlefield; there had been tears. And after much cajoling and promises of future bounty, there had been an “I’m sowwy” from my little force of nature to his playmate and host. Jon can sometimes be like a giddy locomotive off its tracks. Full steam ahead, tooting its merry horn, nary a thought for the fact that it’s derailed and tearing through the countryside, mowing over everything and everyone in its path.

Yet while he may be full of drive and boundless energy, he’s always been very affectionate. Which, for me — his somewhat introverted and decidedly less adventurous Dad — makes it all manageable.

After we’d made our apologies and gathered our things to go, Jon approached his friend — 6 years old to Jon’s 4 and-a-half — to tell him thank you. He followed with one of his epic hugs — both arms flung out fully extended, not closing them until he’d fully enveloped the huggee. His friend seemed a little overwhelmed, but hugged back; then my son tilted his head, stretched up on his toes, and moved in to give his pal a smooch on the cheek.

The friend jerked his head away, reacting with an annoyed “WHAT THE…?!?” Jon just kind of shrugged and let go. But my heart broke a little.

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25 MORE Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Due to popular demand (the original post was one of the most-viewed ever on this site), as well as an over-abundance of photos from awesome gay fathers, I had to do a sequel — which I’m hoping is as good as (or better) than the original. Think Empire Strikes Back, not Teen Wolf Too.

So as we wrap up Pride month, I wanted to share 25 more reasons having gay dads is uniquely, similarly, lovingly AWESOME!

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1. You’re always surrounded by love
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Gay Dads Are Awesome! - Andy Miller

Especially when you’re smooshed into a photo booth. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller & Brian Stephens]
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Proud Papa Gallery of Greatness 2014

June 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS

Father’s Day has come and gone, and yet those of us who are dads are still dads, and still have dad stuff to do. One of the most important is instilling self-confidence and a sense of achievement in our children. Stereotypes dictate fathers only appreciate the physical accomplishments of their children — especially for their sons. But the best dads appreciate the artistic as well as the athletic — and man have I found a great bunch of art-loving dads for this year’s (POST) FATHER’S DAY PROUD PAPA GALLERY OF GREATNESS!

Welcome to our virtual fridge, take your time, and please visit the gift shop on your way out.

Please note that many of the images can be enlarged if clicked on. So click and enjoy!

Artwork credits key:
Title of work

medium
Artist name, age
Father of artist (links to their website/blog)
Artist’s (or artist’s dad’s) description

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THE CLASSICS

 

GADDIS-MONET
Monet

tissue paper, construction paper
markers on paper
Chris, 5
Carter Gaddis
Based on the Water Lilies series.
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Fathers and Sons

June 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Father's Day - Grandpa - Dad

On June 1st my father preached his last sermon. To clarify, I’m sure he will continue to preach as long as he has breath — but this was his final sermon as pastor of the small Baptist church in Virginia where he’d been for the last 15 years. Prior to that he was a Chaplain in the US Air Force for over 20 years, and before that he pastored at churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Illinois.

His father was also a minister. Dad preached his first sermon when he was 18 at his father’s small Baptist church in Arkansas. I know very little about my dad’s dad. I know in addition to preaching he also repaired air conditioners and other electronics. I know he was 6’8″ tall (Dad is 6’5″). I know he neither showed little affection nor talked very much to his son, thus raising Dad to do likewise. I know he held a lot of things in, some that were devastating when unearthed later. I know he died of cancer two years before I was born. I know Grandma remarried to the man I called “Pappaw;” her first husband I’ve only ever called “Russell.”

I don’t say these things to disparage my biological grandfather or to drudge up any of the pain Dad still carries regarding this relationship. I say them because Russell Almond was such a stark contrast to who Johnny Almond, my father, has become.

I know he has shown me affection every day of my life, hugging and kissing me even through the most awkward of my teen years. I know he loves to talk (when given the chance by his 4 verbose sons), and has taught me everything I know about crafting the perfect groan-inducing pun. I know he was always patient with me, even at my most impatient and distant and resentful. I know that he tried to play ball with me and take me golfing and other father-son activities that I hated and told him so, and yet he still showed me patience and kindness and love. I know that after each time he punished me, he always returned to remind me how much he loved me. I know he instilled in me the importance of being compassionate — not by telling me so, but by being the most compassionate man I’ve ever met. I know that he loves and respects my husband, and has said publicly that he is “the kindest man I’ve ever met.” I know he loves and cherishes my son as much as he’s ever loved any of his children or grandchildren, and that my son dearly loves his Grandpa.

During the four and-a-half years that I’ve been a father, I have come to understand the unending joy and deep heartache I must have brought to my dad over the years. I have come to appreciate his commitment to love me, even when I exhibited impatience or embarrassment or hatred towards him; even when I was religiously overzealous and thought his beliefs not strident enough; even when I blamed him for contributing to my being gay; even when I embraced my homosexuality, and he struggled to reconcile this with his lifelong beliefs.

I don’t say these things to embarrass him or to highlight the struggles of our relationship. I say them because my father has done so much to overcome the deficits in his own father/son relationship. I say them so he knows how much I love and appreciate him, though for much of my youth my actions said otherwise. I say them to celebrate what a loving patriarch he has become to his four sons, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law (and another eventual one), three grandsons and two granddaughters. I say them to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:11-13

Father's Day - Dad - Me

Top photo: Russell Almond, behind the pulpit at his church in Arkansas.

I’ve always attributed my drawing skills to the many years I spent doodling on the back of the church bulletin during my father’s sermons. The above sketch was done during his final sermon as a full-time minister. And don’t worry, Dad — I was also listening.

Bottom photo: Dad, Mom & me, November 1970 / Me, Papa & Jon, April 2014

25 Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

As we approach Father’s Day, there have been some pretty cool lists about dads floating around the Internet. So of course I had to make a list of my own, ensuring families with double daddies (or one great gay dad) are represented.

I originally intended to intro my list with lots of statistics showing how more and more Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage and adoption. Or how same-sex couples will be counted as families by the U.S. Census for the first time. Or that gay dads have turned up in all manner of commercials and top-ranked TV shows. Or how I belong to a Facebook group of over 3,000 gay fathers.*

But instead let’s just celebrate what makes gay dads unique, as well as what makes them as equally awesome as all the other active, engaged and loving fathers out there.

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1. You’re raised to be caring & compassionate
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father's day - gay dads - compassion

And you learn how to put your compassion into action… and be all cute and matchy-matchy while doing it. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller]
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Do Gay Dads Celebrate Mother’s Day?

May 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Gay men have always had complicated relationships with women. Whether it’s the first girl’s heart we break, the best friend’s boyfriend we steal, or the mothers we disappoint — even without the complexities of a physical relationship (although those do happen from time-to-time), our interaction with the fairer sex can be rather difficult to navigate.

This is particularly true when it comes to gay dads on Mother’s Day.

As one of two fathers of an adopted son, my thoughts about Mother’s Day — and my son’s lack of Mom — have ranged over the years from gut wrenching to indifferent and everything in between. When our infant would make the sound “mama,” we would quickly and (half) jokingly correct him, “No… it’s ‘O-bama!’” Wasn’t there a way we could keep him from ever learning “the M word?”

He came to us through an open adoption, which meant our son would be raised knowing who his birthmother was. It also meant it fell to his Papa and I to communicate with the birthmom several times a year, and even plan annual family visits.

The first couple of visits were some of the most difficult days of my life. Every bit of my insecurity was on the surface, watching and waiting for this woman to do or say something I would take as a sign she hadn’t let go. Or worse yet, that she was somehow planting seeds that would someday cause my son to want her back.

By loving my son and simply being his Dad on a daily/weekly/yearly basis, those fears have dissipated. And while I’m sure there are challenges ahead (my son’s not yet 5), I now stand secure in the fact that I am his parent and nothing can change that. This confidence and security has allowed me to help him know of and celebrate his birthmother in new and ever-evolving ways.

So while she is certainly his biological mother — and we are eternally grateful to her for choosing us as his parents — she is not our son’s “Mother.”

So do we celebrate Mother’s Day? Do any gay fathers celebrate Mother’s Day?

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My Big Gay Wedding, Part 2: The Daddy Album

May 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I rarely use the word “perfect,” but our wedding day — long in the planning and exponentially longer in the legalizing — was about as near perfection as it gets. And since I’ve been yammering on and on about it for so long, I wanted to share some (more*) of the highlights of this truly blessed event.

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gay wedding - ceremony

gay wedding - scripture reading

Nick’s sister Rosella read from I Corinthians about love and all it entails, the same passage his other sister Dana had read at our commitment ceremony..

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My Big Gay Wedding, Part 1: The Designer Album

May 7, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Narrowing down the photos I wanted to share from our big gay wedding was a daunting task — too many wonderful images and memories to choose from! So I’ve divided them into two albums representing my Gemini-esque personae: Designer and Daddy.

This one — the Designer Album — features details, graphics, colors and all the minutia I obsessed over to make our special day a little special-er. You can see the Daddy Album here. And thanks for your patience — I had to wait nearly 17 years to legally marry the man I love, so I figured folks could wait a few days to see more pics of my adorable kid.

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GAY WEDDING - INVITATION

YOU’RE INVITED. From early in the planning stages, it was obvious to Papa and I that a marriage between two people that had been together for 16+ years should get some props for longevity. There weren’t going to be doves descending from the heavens and whisking us away to a magical happily ever after. This was about commitment and family and roots and the journey it took to get here.

So I came up with a stylized brick motif. Bricks may not conjure romantic imagery, but they are vitally important in that they build roads for life’s travels and the foundation for a home. They fit and work together to guide, protect and stabilize.

GAY WEDDING - INVITATION OPEN

The front of the invitation unfolds to reveal a “road” leading us home.* I wanted to not only communicate the ceremony would be at our house, but also emphasize the importance of home to our relationship and our family. It also set the tone for the celebration — warm, informal and all about the love.
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So let’s get to the photos of the actual day, shall we? By the way, the fabulous Piper Watson shot all of the wedding day photos. Please hire her — she is a sweet photographer and an even sweeter spirit.

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A Family Walk In The Woods

April 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been taking family walks in the woods since our only child was four-legged. Actually a bike path near the local dog park, it’s always been a great place to let Cordi sniff and poop and run around off-leash. (Not fond of dog parks, our baby girl’s more fond of her people.) The path also offers a quiet escape, a shady respite from the summer/spring/autumn heat. And it’s the perfect place to find rocks for Papa to border the landscaping in our yard.

So this past weekend we set off on a family walk/rock hunting expedition, so Papa could get some rocks and check off an item on his pre-wedding to-do list. We loaded up the four-legged kid, the two-legged kid and the wagon, which was for hauling rocks, and ultimately, a tired two-legged kid.

A Walk In The Woods Papa and JJ

As evidenced by the hat and shirt, JJ had been to a friend’s birthday party earlier that day at the neighborhood fire station. It was Papa’s turn to take him (I took him to a party last weekend), but it was Papa’s second fire station party. I think I need to plan better next time, or just claim dibs on the next party featuring firemen. Just sayin’…

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