Here at Lali we celebrate ALL people, value diversity and inclusivity. While these are values we hope to aspire to year round, June is Pride month so we spoke with our friend Robin to help educate and gain another perspective of parenthood. Robin talks with us about family life with his partner Jason and raising 2 daughters in Chicago.
What is something you wish you had known about parenthood?
The one thing no one seemed to talk about is trimming newborn fingernails. That was the scariest part for me. People talk about sleep schedules and diaper changes. Trimming newborn fingernails has all the tension of trying to deactivate a bomb.
What is something you are glad you didn't know about parenthood?
I knew that some babies struggled with sleeping. Our first daughter was relatively easy. I had heard of "arms sleepers," and assumed that it just happened to overly attentive parents. I was wrong. Our second baby could not fall asleep unless she was being held, and she would not transfer to the crib. Obviously, she's better now, but I can still see traces of that neediness in her personality now. She's a pretty bossy 4 year old. Her sister is a pretty passive 8 year old. They show you who they are from the beginning.
What is your favorite thing about your girls and wish for their future?
Our kids have big personalities and a lot of talent. Ivy (8 y/o) is a gifted artist for her age. She is a proud Autistic, and has several remarkable Autistic gifts. She could memorize Shakespeare when was 2, just from listening to me. Anya (4 y/o) charms everyone she meets. She starts conversations with strangers at the grocery store, and she treats her classmates like celebrities, announcing each one as they show up to preschool and dance class, giving them each a hug. Both kids are very funny, and very loving.
How do you teach your daughters about inclusivity?
A lot comes down to school choice. Does the school care about diversity and inclusivity as much as we do? We found an EXCELLENT elementary school. They teach cultural diversity all year, and they even have an LGBTQ equity week. But, more important than teaching, the racial and ethnic make up of the staff and student body is very diverse. There aren't many same-sex parents, but that's to be expected. We are all pioneers; us and the majority of same sex parents. It is becoming much more common, especially since same-sex marriage became legal. This opened a lot of doors, in regards to legality. It's easier to adopt or get pre-birth orders for surrogacy when you're married.
For families who are not are around LGBTQ+ community, do you have any recommendation on books and activities?
It's a very interesting journey. There are a bunch of books with same-sex parents: Stella Brings Her Family, Daddy, Papa & Me, Two Daddies & Me, etc. We didn't have these books when Ivy was born, in 2014. They may have existed, but we didn't know about them. So, I went through books with straight parents, and used white-out and a marker. The best book for all young kids is The Family Book, by Todd Parr. They should have it in every Kindergarten classroom on the planet. It's short and simple, and it basically says that there are all types of families, and that is something to celebrate.
Lastly, is there anything you would like the community to know about gay parenting?
I have received so many well intended Mothers Day well wishes. I love the love, but no. We are not doing "both jobs" or "being both mother and father" to our children. We are both fathers and we both provide for and nurture our children. We both cook and clean. We both show up for events and first days of school. By not dividing parenting tasks by gender, our children will never feel limited by their gender. This is a great advantage to having same-sex parents. Also, we have the luxury of not having to worry about accidental pregnancies. If you see same-sex parents, you need to understand how much they went through. Personally, we had to undergo, psychological evaluations, physical examinations, multiple court appearances, and we both worked 2 jobs each just to raise enough money to get to the START of the pregnancy. We are very lucky, but we also had to work so much harder than most people. Part of me doesn't wish that experience on anyone, but another part of me wishes everyone had to go through the exact same process in order to become parents.