This morning, I woke up with Devon on my mind.
It’s Father’s Day and I know that he is happy thinking about our kids and enjoying the handmade cards they gave him, but he is also thinking about his own father, Fast Freddy, who passed away a little over a year and a half ago. Knowing him, he is experiencing some sadness right along with the joy he feels over being the dad to our Three Little Birds. Devon and The Reese Clan: I loved Fred very much. I am thinking about you all, too.
While we were married, Devon was a great dad, and still is today. He has always been very silly with them and kept them in mind when making decisions for our family, with exception at times to the crisis we went through after his Big Reveal. Decisions then were often a lose-lose scenario for everyone it felt like. But ultimately, we made a great team as parents and sought to always provide a united front to our children, even if we didn’t always agree on particular topics.
Devon and I were married a little over 2 years before we had our first beautiful daughter, Maddie. Before she was born, I cannot remember any fights between us of significance. We intentionally didn’t have TV and went places with each other that kept our love and friendship strong… and some of these things we did were uber nerdy: we played ping-pong a couple of times a week at the rec center in Lawrence, Kansas (I kicked his arse most of the time… or at least, that’s how I want to remember it); we played board games; went on old people Sunday drives around neighborhoods and dreamed of the day we would own our first home, how it would be decorated, what we would name our kids, and trips we wanted to take together; we prayed together, read Scripture together and went to every church potluck we could schedule.
Dynamics changed once Maddie was born. When people say their first year of marriage was horrible, I cannot relate at all. It was the first year that Maddie was born which caused us to stress and argue the most.
I often say this: When you get married, you don’t realize just how selfish you were. And when you have kids, you REALLY see just how selfish you can be.
Sacrifice becomes your daily life. You have to give up yourself – your dreams, time alone with just you or as a couple, your hobbies – more than you’d like to.
And with that first child comes the gritty reality that you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a lot of floundering and mistake making, and Devon and I had several fights over what to do when neither of us really knew what to do. As the mom, I felt that I had the ultimate say over how to handle middle of the night crying fests, chaffed nipples and sleep schedules, and as the dad, Devon wanted to be included in on the tactics for dealing with things neither of us had answers to. He would give his two cents worth, I would out right dismiss them, he would be hurt, we would argue… and then the argument became more about our own pride than sensible solutions that needed to be implemented.
I’m guessing most partners and spouses with kids have experienced the same thing.
And to this day, when we do occasionally argue, it’s almost always about the kids and how to handle things. I’m thinking this will not end anytime soon.
Fast forward to 2014. Three kids, a coming out of the closet experience, 2 times dealing with cancer, a change of mindset about homosexuality not being a sin and a choice, my kids having two daddies… and still Devon is a great dad, and his husband, Felipe, is wonderful to our kids. I will never have to worry about having that evil step mom to compete with regarding who is the real mom of the family. It’s all about me being the only mom they will ever have.
I kinda love it.
One of the most important revelations that I had after dealing for a bit with my own hurt after Devon’s big reveal, is that my children are NOT me. As in, the betrayal I dealt with, the trust that was ruined, the crisis that was created by Devon coming out and the feelings of anger and working with instead of against the new life that I was to live… did not mean that my kids would have the same reaction, feelings, hurt or lifetime of distrust toward romantic/love relationships. I often projected my own experience onto my kids, expecting that they would have to deal with or feel the same way I did.
Now, did they have to deal with this new life and have some hurt or emotions to work through? Absolutely. And maybe stuff will come up in their lives that stem from the Big Reveal in the future. But their relationship with their daddy, while it may have changed in some ways because we didn’t live under the same roof, was not damaged, especially because they saw the example that we set when it was all said and done.
You see, Devon will always be their dad. It’s not like the kids had to decide between keeping their relationship with him or putting a retainer down for a divorce attorney. There wasn’t a romance involved, only the love and respect that Devon and the kids had for each other.
Him being gay did not change his Daddy Status. I was the one that had to change my ideas of what they would do and how I thought they would react.
My middle daughter, Kate, said it perfectly: When he told us he was gay, I don’t think I was too surprised, not because I knew, but because it didn’t make him any different to me.
Isn’t that beautiful?
And it helped me to remember that Devon is and always will be that fun, responsible and good example of what a father is to his children.
Now, to the many people who seek to use this site as support for their scenario of a spouse coming out of the closet, I am aware that this particular post may tug at emotions you are still working through. I want you to know that I am in no way attempting to intentionally put something in your face that would try to hurt you in any way or sway you to handle your lives like I did. I realize that each family’s scenario has intricacies that can make a situation more difficult than my own. This post, however, speaks to my own journey with Devon’s Big Reveal and how far we’ve come since that Day.
And my experience is this: I chose to work with my situation instead of against it. There have been so many blessings that have come from this, particularly that my kids have two daddies who love them and would die for them, just like I would. My kids are secure in our non-traditional Rainbow Family and there is so much love surrounding them from all sides like bubble wrap, which is really wonderful.
So, Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, gay, straight, or otherwise. If you are a dad, you are at your core, a dad forever. And kids will love their parents, even if they can be hurt by us. Keep in mind that kids are almost always quicker to forgive us than we are at forgiving ourselves, and I want to be just like them in my own grace, mercy and forgiveness toward others.
And to those of you who have households with two daddies: Thank you for loving your children just like any human would. You being gay simply does not matter when it comes to loving your kids.
Happy Father’s Day, Devon. And also you, Felipe. Two dads and one mommy? People should be envious. Our lives do not suck.
Love, The Only Mom Our Three Little Birds Will Ever Have
P.S. One of the earliest blog posts that I wrote was a special message to Devon from our kids a couple of years ago. It’s precious and funny, and will reveal a lot about Devon’s relationship with our babies. Check it out here: We Love You, Daddy