As this dad thinks over his thank you list, his mom appears at the top. Here is why.
Tonight, as I opened a beer seconds after putting my boys down, I gave thanks that they most likely won’t wake for 10½ hours. I am so lucky to have sleepers.
As I sipped, I really did think about gratitude. Yeah. It was a Hallmark Channel moment. And I was reminded: the strongest thanks I can give this year, and every, is to my mom…for making me a dad.
Sadly, I write about her in the past tense. She died unexpectedly from a cardial arrhythmia.
Doctors tell me it’s the way we all want to go: one second you’re here, then you’re not.
At 32, I was suddenly an orphan (my father passed when I was 8 years old). There are worse tragedies in the world, but in American culture, 32 is young to be parentless.
I was very, very sad. But thanks to our close relationship where nothing was left unsaid, I wasn’t bereft.
And to my surprise, her passing freed me.
Prior to her death, I’d hemmed and hawed about whether I was/should be/wanted to be gay. To that point, my four-year relationship with my boyfriend was not exactly solid. But after Mom’s passing, “life’s too short” hit home. I couldn’t feel beholden to social convention (or my mom’s vision for my life). So I chose to be happy. My boyfriend made me happy.
And we got a dog! I mean…monumental commitment for me!
I always knew I’d have kids. While I wrestled with my own identity, it wasn’t clear how I’d have kids, but they were always in my future.
With my new independence and satisfaction with myself, fatherhood seemed possible.
From Mom, I inherited an unexpected chunk of money. It didn’t catapult me into the 1%, but it allowed my partner and I to pursue the expensive process of surrogacy.
I know the world is full of children in need of adoption into loving homes. But my extended family is so small, I can count all aunts, uncles and cousins on eight fingers. It was important to me to pass on my genes, along with my name.
Even though Mom was dubious about my life with another man, she inspired me to eschew insecurities and choose happiness.
And thanks to, well…her prudent financial investments, she gave me kids.
And I’m so grateful to laugh (complain) about them, here.
Thanks to my mom’s example, I know how to be a good dad, a good partner and a good man. I know her joy for my family would be unconditional and irrepressible. She’s with me every single day. The proof is in the whining, giggles, diapers and spontaneous, “Daddy, I love yous.”
My kids don’t understand the concept of giving thanks, yet. But I look forward to making eyes roll as I lecture them that “Thanksgiving isn’t about school breaks, football, or irrepressible little boy farts caused by gorging on turkey and Brussels sprouts.”
Nope. It’s the non-denominational, non-political, non-nationalistic day to feel gratitude.
And damn it: they WILL eat those Brussels sprouts.
Don’t forget to lecture and annoy your kids about giving thanks.
Photo: Flickr/Jacques Szymanski