Learn Moon, Learn Stars, Learn Love
The year that I turned 30, I turned to Pat one cay and said "You know...we're in our thirties now; I think we should start talking about children." His reply?
"What about them?"
"Do you want children? Do you want to think about adopting one or hiring a surrogate or anything like that?" I asked. His reply?
"You know...I'm going to leave that decision to you. You may bring a child into your life any way you like. Adopt, hire a surrogate..any thing at all. As long as you take the child to another apartment and live with it there."
Not only was that the right answer, it is one of my favourite sentences I have ever heard in my life.
As a teenager, I developed a bit of a biological clock. I fantasized about being a father, having a chiold--maybe a son--and being a good daddy to that child. As an adult, I eschewed this frame of mind, deciding that I am too selfish to be a parent. I want my solitude and to be left alone when I have the flu and when I am having a nap. I realized that I don't want the responsibility of raising a child. I don't want to be responsible for screwing up a young life. Besides, I realized, I already have lots of children I take care of; they are called my friends.
And the matter was closed, as was the discussion.
We have watched as our friends have had children, some of them at great trouble and expense. In our lives we have watched miracle babies be born into the Connor and Arnold families, with great fanfare from cheering friends and families. These babies were all very difficult to come by and have circles of support that would give one pause. They are so well loved, so well cared for. They are miracle babies. We have watched our friends have babies that were more easily conceived and carried to term; we have marveled at the lovely parenting skills of friends who were, at one time, single people and party-ers. The Englands have three gorgeous sons named after Saints and they have been raised with enormous amounts of love and respect, which is what the boys offer the world because (as we all know) children learn what they are taught. I have stood in their bedroom at bedtime listening to their delightful and devout nighttime prayers, I have seen their boyish, rambunctious best at playtime and enjoyed their polite, respectful table manners. They are wonderful boys and even though parenting is a skill one picks up as one goes along, their parents have done a bang up job.
I have watched as each of my Goddaughters (one literal, one figurative) have come into a whimsical and bohemian household where they have been taught not only to respect humanity but to celebrate it. The girls have been given individuality (from the onset) with their unique names; and their individulatiy has been nurtured by parents who encourage creativity and personal authenticity. Those parents have instilled in my beautiful Goddaughters an open mindedness and a thirst for knowledge, as well as a sense of good manners, not to mention what is right from what is wrong. I have had great pleasure watching the parenting skills of various friends.
I cannot speak of the parenting skills of my siblings. It would be an unfair invasion of their privacy. I will say that I am very happy that my own parents have had the opportunity to spend so much time with my brother's children--I think it is good to have grandparents around; grandparents are allowed to parent in ways that would be considered mean (by the children) were they applied by the parents. I hope that makes sense because it is a point of fact in which I believe, greatly.
I feel that Pat and I have been good uncles to our neices and nephews, both those on the Mosher side and those on the Dwyer side. Our neices from Pat's side of the family are proof of good parenting. We consider it our role to be the male Auntie Mames , sweep into town, spoil them and teach them to enjoy eccentricity, then fly back to New York, our damage done.
Yesterday, I received an email that made me weep, weep, weep.
I have an unfortunate concept of the passage of time, not unlike living in Narnia and coming back through the wardrobe door to find that it has only been a second since you left the physical world. I do not remember (or recognize) the passage of time. Maybe that is why I look the way I do. Maybe I do not live in a place where time DOES pass...
I know that I met Stephen Kaplan when he was sixteen. I know that I met him again when he was in his early twenties. I know that a couple of years passed before he met Will Nolan. I know that we had some chances to be free spirited adults, I know that illness prevented me from attending their wedding ceremony in California (where, instead of a wedding cake, they served piles of KRISPY KREME s--HOW COULD I MISS THAT??!!). I know that they moved to California for a year, maybe a year and a half. I know that they moved back to New York a year, maybe two, ago. So, as you can see, I have known these fellows for awhile. Heck, I did the photo that was on their wedding invitation. I think you could say we have been an important part of each others' lives. The fact that we see each other, rarely, these days, is one of those things.
"Life separated us." So said Truman Capote in his narration of the film version of his immortal classic A CHRISTMAS MEMORY. Life separates us, all.
But I was aware that the boys had adoption on the brain, aware they had filled out the papers, aware that they both had great jobs and a new house in New Jersey. I AM up on the news in their lives.
Well...I am NOW.
It hardly seems possible--because adoption takes SO very long--but yesterday they brought home their son, Michael Patrick Kaplan-Nolan. And when I opened the email I began to cry. I am so very happy for my dear friends. This is something they have wanted since first they met. They are two of the most integrity filled men who have one of the most love filled relationships and that baby is going to live an extraordinary life.
For many years I said that I don't believe in homosexuals living their lives in heterosexual stereotypes. I didn't believe in gays getting married because it has no social or legal relevance. Until there are honest to goodness changes in a gay relationship because of the institution of marraige, it just feels like dress up and make believe--that's what I always said. My opinions on gays having children was the same--maybe even stronger. Why? Why, I wanted to know, would any gay man or gay couple want to put themselves through through the hassle of acquiring a child, let alone go through the transom of life RAISING the brat?! I have grown less cynical regarding these topics. Indeed, I have been dreaming of a wedding for Pat and I--even though there is no legal acceptance of it (and I crusade for a change to that); and while I do not dream of our having children, I support, in fact promote, my gay couples friends in their quests to build a family. Why shouldn't we? Why should we live lives where we are not allowed to have the same things that heterosexuals have? These amazing men want a family, want a child, a son to raise and look at, proudly, and say "that's my son."
AND THEY GOT IT!!! Stephen and Will got their dream. They are in the top one percent. They did it. Bravo. I could not be any happier. And happiness for our loved ones is the best feeling in the world. It is beter than being happy for yourself, by far. I am happy for the boys, happy for that lucky baby, happy for the grandparents and all the Aunts and Uncles (by blood or by association).
There are going to be a lot of people vying for babysitting duty...
please note that I did not do the photo of the Kaplan-Nolans; it was in the email they sent out announcing their good news. also; I may, in upcoming days, add photos of some of the other families; only after securing their permission to post pictures of their children on the internet.