On the Social Suicide of Parenthood

On my birthday (I know, months ago, bad blogger, no biscuit, etc.), my dandy friend Alastair asked me how old I was. When I told him (28), he responded, “In gay years, you’re ancient!” (It’s worth noting that he’s older than I am, although not by much.) I replied, to much laughter, “Darling, I had a kid; I committed gay suicide.” Flip, true, but it lives in the comedic intersection of truth and pain. Not that this isn’t anything I expected; I planned my exit from the world of romantic possibility consciously, but every once and a while, the hope/despair combo rises in my gorge again. It’s something I disliked about my disposition pre-fatherhood, but when it started raising its ugly head again recently, it was in a slightly different light.

Again, to be clear, it’s not like I am surprised by the fact that I don’t have the option of dating anymore now that I’m a father. I made as much peace as I could with that before I even started the adoption process. But in the last month or so, I’ve been broody about romance. And it’s easy to start blaming the lack of any action on that front on the fact that I live in babyland now. I have to consciously remind myself that it’s not like there were boys beating down my door before O came into the picture; in fact, there was rarely even a hint of possibility. My only post-college boyfriend was someone I didn’t even like very much at the time, and I nursed a crush on an unobtainable and unsuitable man for years. In the last year, the person who has intrigued me the most is a college student who lives in New York, which would be untenable and inappropriate even without the complications of fatherhood.

On the friendship front, my friend Chanel wrote an excellent post about falsifying happiness for friends who are going through big life transitions and may be leaving you behind. And it’s true. I just told a friend from the West coast who is coming to NYC that I probably won’t be able to go down and see him during the week that he’s on this coast. I’m going to book club tonight with O, but in the future I’m going to need to find a sitter if I want to go even to this low-key thing. Not that I was such a social butterfly before, but there’s a real loss of possibility, and therefore a loss of connection. I can’t leave the house without either a meticulously packed bag of supplies for O or a sitter. The fact that I wasn’t so good at planning and executing the things that go into maintaining social relationships means that another logistical barrier can be a bridge too far.

On the other hand, I am so lucky to live in a child-centric community. Although fatherhood has left me with even less time to work on my connection to Judaism, being one of many parents and people who love holding and caring for children has cemented me more in my faith community. When I am asked by a friend to go to the zoo, I can trust that, since she has two children of her own, my slowness and slip-ups are understood, and she can trust me to stay calm in the face of a three-year-old’s inevitable tantrum. As much as I resent the attitudes of a lot of the parents I meet in babyland (and that could be it’s whole own post…), I’m becoming a lot closer to my friends who are also parents. And that is a marvelous thing.

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One thought on “On the Social Suicide of Parenthood

  1. Alas, I don’t know any suitable young men to send your way, but on the non-dating front, we are looking forward to catching up with you at Institute, and are positively chomping at the bit to meet O! I hope you find parenthood brings you closer to some people–and I know I am not telling you anything you haven’t already figure out for yourself, but the asynchrony of the interwebs can be a parent’s best friend. (This is why mommyblogging is a Thing, after all.)

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