When talking to a friend early on when our blog was brand new (only three months ago) he mentioned that he knew a dad that would be perfect for the blog. He said that he’s currently writing a book about being a gay dad and his son is AMAZING (he used all caps).
Derek is an actor, writer and musician based in New York City. When we reached out to him he was immediately in. He said he would be happy to answer the questions as his pride-and-joy is now 9 years old and is his favorite subject.
Like we mentioned above, Derek is currently writing a book and a screenplay entitled, “Hey, Bubba.” In Derek’s words ‘For some reason, these were the first two words I said to him when the nurse put him in my arms. The nickname stuck. The book is an open letter to my son, spoken in the second-person, to tell him what an incredible, hilarious and exciting journey it has been to raise him in his first ten years. He has a lot of questions, and I’ve answered them honestly. I’m putting them all down on paper so he won’t forget. The audience is allowed to eavesdrop on our conversation.’
Although he answered us right away we wanted to save his blog for Father’s Day. A way to honor all those amazing dads out there. Welcome to the dad of fame, Derek!
What is the best piece of advice you were given about parenthood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?
When I was in my 20’s, I came home to Indiana to visit my family. I told my grandfather that I would never have kids. He certainly knew what I meant by that, it was my coming out of sorts, but this was his answer. “Well, that’s a shame. I bet you’d be pretty good at it. Having kids is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I didn’t do it perfectly.” So, when I was in my mid-thirties, and we were deciding to start the process of becoming parents, and every single possible perfectionist impulse was kicking in to criticize me, I remembered his words. I gave myself permission to become a parent and do it the best I could. I said to myself, out loud, “You won’t be perfect, but I bet you’ll be pretty good at it.”
How is fatherhood different than you imagined it would be?
I did not expect the part of parenthood whereby it is a slow, uncomfortable process of letting go. My son is only nine now, so I expect this “letting go” to amplify soon.
What are your three strengths when it comes to fatherhood?
I’m often told I’m very maternal and I take that as the highest compliment ever. I’m also open, loyal and playful but I am not his “friend.” He will have loads of friends in his life. I reserve my spot as “parent.” That means not being liked sometimes, out of love.
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a father.
When my marriage fell apart, and I was still in the process of second-parent adopting my son. Living for years with that instability is like living with a constant, torturous hum. But I made sure that when I needed to scream, I did it in the kitchen into a dishrag. I used the dishrag to wipe my tears, I breathed, and then I went back into the living room to join my son. My parents were divorced (more than once) and I didn’t want to repeat their mistake of not letting my kid be a kid. I’ve been hyper-vigilant about that.
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a father? What have you gained?
When your child is born, your self-centeredness takes a huge hit. It is such a relief.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
When he was eight, we were on the subway. He turned to me and said, “Happy wife, happy life…I just need to find the wife so I can have kids. I can’t wait to have kids.” So I think he has learned that if you want to have kids, it’s a rewarding experience.