Note: To set some context—and maybe give some food for thought to folks considering parenthood—the first few posts describe my journey from “single gay guy” to “father of two.” We’ll get to the good stuff—life with the kids—very shortly.
There are a few points where you could say our family’s story begins. I’ll run through a few briefly before I get to what you could call the “official” start of the family saga:
- When I was in college in the late 1980s, I was a Big Brother to a boy who attended the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. This lasted for just about a year. I would love to say I was amazing in my first foray into pseudo-parenthood, but I think I’ll have to settle for “pretty good.” (Little Bro #1, if you’re out there reading this, I’m sure you’re nodding your fist in agreement.)
- I was fortunate to attend one of the few universities that offered an undergraduate teaching credential program. So, while getting my English degree, I also obtained my credential in secondary school English, thus doubling my career potential in low-to-no-paying jobs. As part of the credential program, I had two opposing experiences: teaching a class on myth and poetry in a summer program for privileged high school students on the college campus, and doing a semester as a student instructor teaching English to freshmen and sophomores at an inner-city high school. I am not sure how many of my lessons—including the awesome one that used Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia” to teach about poetic verses and refrains—my students retained, but I learned and remembered an extremely valuable one: I like kids.
- Moving to California just after graduation, I decided to put this lesson into practice. I worked in group homes for the first year and change, then taught special ed for the next three or so. The stories of these years deserve a book of their own.Then I left to pursue writing full-time.
- Being a starving artist didn’t exactly prep me for parenthood—though it did teach me how to eat on a budget. After a few years in my little cottage under the big tree, away from schools and group homes, it became more and more clear how much I missed kids. This led to a new idea: I think I want my own.
- So I did the next logical thing: I became a Big Brother once again. This one was more of a “take” than my first, brief experience—to the point where my “little” Max, now (gulp) married, and I are still in touch and he and his moms have been family to me and my kids since day 1. (Plug: They are my first heroes, and I will pay them proper tribute later.)
- Around the time I met Max, I jumped from starving artist writing to freelancing. I had the crazy idea that my future kids might enjoy eating, and wearing clothes. I also had the idea that raising kids by myself, a flexible schedule might come in very handy (plus—as anyone who knows me can verify—9-to-5 and I don’t get along very well). This career switch turned out to be an exercise in very good timing, as this was right at the beginning of the tech boom in the Bay Area. You could contact pretty much any new tech company, tell them you knew how to write, and end up with a contract within an hour or so. And make plenty of money doing so.Tip: Having work and money is a good prerequisite for raising kids.