Mother's Day: Perspectives of a Gay Dad

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At times, I get very reflective about my life, the decisions I have made and those who have influenced me along the way.

I think “Mothers (‘s)  Day” is a day for mothers of all types and stripes – even  a day for those of us who are born male - but who are mothers in one way or another.  Yes, I am a gay male. There is no doubt about that!  Yes, I have a husband and yes, we have an adopted son – adopted from the foster care system when he was a teenager only a few short years ago.  When I asked our son the other day what I was getting for Mother’s Day from him, he smiled and said “what do you want”? There was no hesitation about the word – or label – “Mom” – in reference to me, one of his two Dad’s.


The funny – or probably not so funny thing – is that I am the closest thing to a real life Mom that he has ever had in the last 19 of his almost 21 years.  He has a biological Mom who he finally and joyfully met for the second time in his life this past January – after 17+ years.  He has not seen her since he was 2 years old.  Yes, my husband Nilo and I are his Father’s…there is absolutely no doubt about that. The judge said so on March 3, 2017!  I have the papers to prove it!  It was one of the best days in our lives together. Grateful to be his Dad’s, it is clear that Moms do special things – things that Dads can’t always do.  Moms do things like, make sure you are up on time for school/work in the morning even though they themselves do not need to be awake that early, make sure your clothes are clean and ready for you each day, put your juice and vitamins out in the morning with your breakfast, make you lunch each day even though you say you don’t need or want it,  ask if you brushed your teeth and then smell your breath to make sure you are not lying about it, wait up for you when you are out late just to make sure you are home safe and let you cry openly, without questions or judgement, when you are hurting or sad.  None of this is to say Dad’s cannot or do not do this for their children as well – I have both sides in me – but I know these qualities in me are those qualities I bring from my own Mom as she did many of these things for me and my siblings.  So I know that for our son, I am his Mom in as many ways as I am his Dad.


This Mother’s Day, I am so thankful for my Mom - who taught me - never knowing that one day I would need them, the skills I would need to actually be a Mom myself. Ask anyone who knows me – I never thought I would have a child. I never wanted one! Heck, I never thought I would have a husband! I don’t think in my earlier days I wanted one of them either!  But here I am on the precipice of 53 years old and I have both a husband and a son!  How lucky am I, right?  And in having both a husband I love dearly these past 25 years together and a son we adore, how much more thankful am I to the woman named Mary Ann Bauer, my Mom, who taught me everything there is to know about being an exceptional Mom.  She was an exceptional – no, not perfect –but an exceptional Mom - to me and to my six siblings – and she – by her actions – showed us how it was to be done.


After my Mom died in June, 2000, I grew to hate Mother’s Day. I hated seeing people out with their mothers enjoying the day. I hated the smiles; I hated the happiness; I hated the pictures and the laughter; I hated the brunches and flowers – I hated it all!  Back in the early 2000’s, in my protest against this painful day, I created the “Motherless Mother’s Day”.  It was magnificent! It was the day where Nilo, who lost his own Mom, Magdalena, two years before I lost my Mom, and I invited all of our “motherless friends” over to brunch at our house. It was a day where none of us had to be out and about in town to look at those sappy, happy faced families, celebrating joyfully with their own mothers. It was a day where we could privately, cloistered with our “own kind”, drink, eat, celebrate and most especially, separate ourselves – in the moment anyway - from those celebratory people around us and the memories their presence triggered in our memory, of our own precious and forever lost Mother’s Days gone by – once upon a time such special Sundays - where we were once happy and celebrating with our own Mom’s with our own families.  This “celebration” went on for a number of years --- and it was good --- and it was necessary for us all.


When we adopted our son, something changed.  No, I did not become a woman – no surgeries here!  But having our son in our lives woke something in me – something I was unaware of until the day he came to live in our home. The part of my Mom that she instilled in me – the incredible part of she- herself - lived inside of me even when I never knew or realized it was there.  The incredible part of herself lived deep and silently inside of me, hidden somewhere behind the pain, behind the loss and behind the almost incomparable sadness that enveloped us all – enveloped me - when she died.  The special part of herself was always there inside of me – as some who know me well will tell you -  (I have always been something of a “mother” – pun intended), and it took Jon coming into our lives to bring it out of me for good, forever and always.  From the day Jon joined our family, Nilo and I are his Dad’s - but I am his Mom - at least one of them.  


Mothers come in all types and stripes, all shapes and sizes, and in both sexes, traditionally female – and sometimes, most exceptionally, male. This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful that an amazing woman named Mary Ann was my Mom – grateful that she taught me how to be a Mom in all the best and most perfect ways possible – while never realizing that one day her example would shape me in ways she never knew – or did she?


I will never know with absolute certainty if my Mom realized her impact on me in her lifetime - but I do know without question or hesitation – I believe in my heart and my soul – that now she sees me, she sees Nilo and she sees Jon – and she knows that she helped me be the Mom Jon needed - at the right time and in the right moment - to save his life – and in so doing, make our lives as a family complete.  We know Jon’s biological Mom loves him dearly. We love her too.  Thankfully for Jon – and me – my Mom planted the seed in the ground for me to be the Mom Jon needed now – and I was smart enough to listen, understand and never be afraid of who I am inside to love Jon as both one of his Mom’s and his Dad’s. 


Thank you Mom – for everything you did for me to help make the man – and the Mom – I am today. I miss you always – I know you know that.

Submitted: May 07, 2020

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