Millions of upper lips will become a little hairier this month, as men around the world grow moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health. Yes, it’s Movember—an opportunity for the men in our lives to take stock of their physical and mental wellbeing and a reminder for us all to check in on the men around us.
So, while the spotlight shines on men this month, we’ve thrown the microphone to some awesome dads, uncles, grandads, stepdads and male role models and asked them to share their insights and advice about the challenges and highlights of parenthood and raising children. We’ll be sharing their thoughts on Facebook throughout this month. To kick off this special feature, we invited same-sex dads Tim and Nic to tell us about their experience of fatherhood… Here’s what Tim had to say.
As a gay man growing up, I never thought I’d be a father.
Five years into my relationship with my now-husband, he raised the idea of having kids. That came out of the blue for me, and I went through many years of soul-searching wondering if this is what I wanted, whether we’d be great fathers, and whether we’d be able to protect and champion our kids.
But in the two decades we’ve been together, we’ve seen such incredible changes. As gay men, these decades have given us hope. Our stories are now being told on TV, in movies. We’re seen; but not just seen, we’re embraced… to the point where Australia has now moved to support same-sex marriages. And I think these changes show us that we can collectively change our minds and move forward together as a society. Fatherhood, for us, is simply the extension of the positive changes that have shaped our lives and an exercise of that hope we’ve seen and would love to introduce our children to.
I’ve loved being a dad. Without knowing it, I’d been searching for a certain kind of meaning for more than a decade and a half of my adult years, and I finally found it when I held my newborn son in 2015, found it again when I heard him sing for the first time, and again seeing him snuggle up to his little brother on their very first day together in this world.
There’s so much to love about being a parent: seeing our kids laughing and telling us about their day, the parts that made them giggle with joy, the tricky bits that they’re still growing through, their curiosity about an old world made new again in their eyes.
The best bit about being a gay dad is that because we never thought we’d have this, every ordinary moment is just imbued with so much gratitude. And I love that about our life.
I even love the harder bits – like always feeling that time is never enough… though my kids would say this is where my superpower shines: I always seem to be able to squeeze a little more from my day for the kids, a little bit of time for one last story, time to be in the garden or pool with them, time for bubbles, time to watch the same shows together (Bluey!), and time for lazy drives to the beach.
But in truth, this does not take some great feat to do. Instead, it’s just an absolute commitment to prioritising the kids. And I think when you’ve had to jump through as many hoops as we have just to become fathers, it becomes very clear that everything else comes to naught if we don’t enjoy these very small moments every day we get.
So, here’s my advice to other dads: everyone finds their own version of normal—and I think the world is better for it.
I used to be anxious that our kids wouldn’t be breastfed or that if I was having a big work week it’d be takeaway for the fourth day in a row. But I think being kind to yourself—particularly from a mental health point of view—gives you that space to give so much more to your kids. And don’t fret if your version of fatherhood doesn’t really match up to someone else’s (but admittedly—who doesn’t compare?).
Maybe the best advice I can give is one passed down from my own dad. When I was a kid, I said to my dad, “I’d love to earn lots of money one day and buy a gigantic house with tonnes of rooms”. And my dad laughed a little and said, “I’m sure you can do it, but how many beds are you going to be sleeping in each night? You can only occupy so much space with your body. Instead of chasing after the big house, chase memories, chase conversations, chase new experiences with old and new friends, and keep yourself open to new ideas.” And I think that’s what makes my own father a great dad: that really balanced approach to life.
And I hope to be a similarly great and balanced dad to my kids.
You can follow Tim and Nic’s journey on Instagram, @brisvegasdad