Who is Jerry Mahoney? A funny blogger, parent, and next month, a published book author. Mahoney’s memoir “Mommy Man: From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad” debuts on May 8.
I had a chance to talk with Mahoney this past week, touching on the essentials of life: fatherhood, his twins, Surrogates and Egg Donors Day, potty training, and practical jokes. His first crack as a book author, Mahoney invites readers to share his gay parenting journey. Discover the essence of Jerry Mahoney in this candid two-part interview.
“Geeky” Superdad Gets Published
DN: Your new book “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Super Dad" comes out next month. How do you feel about that?
JM: Excited and terrified (laughs). It’s the first time I’ve had a book published so it’s very exciting, definitely, and I can’t wait to have a copy I can hold in my hands, but there’s also that panic. What if nobody likes it? What if it gets terrible reviews? What if nobody buys it? I’m cautiously optimistic I guess.
DN: It’s an interesting title. How did you come up with it?
JM: I came up with the title because that was the title of my blog. It was originally called “Where Do Gaybies Come From?” The original title of my blog, too. I was never crazy about the word gaybies. I liked the pun and thought the title was kind of fun, but I feel that the word gaybies turns people off. It also makes people think, ‘Wait, are the kids gay or what?’ So, I tried to come up with something that was a little bit more about me I guess, that put the focus more on me. The kids are just the kids. I’m the one who is the non-traditional parent, my partner and me. We’re the ones who make it a modern family.
The “Mommy Man” was just because a lot of people when I would go out, a stay at home dad since the kids were born, would see me with the kids and think that I was some kind of superhero because I was a man taking care of kids. You’d be amazed! The comments that you get from people.
DN: Parenting can be a challenge. What are some of the challenges that you face?
JM: You know the challenges that I face probably have a 99 percent overlap with challenges that any parent faces- straight or gay or anything. Potty training is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do (laughs). That was a beast! You know in terms of being a gay parent, we definitely try to be proactive and prepare our kids for the fact that not everyone is going to understand our family, that people are going to assume that they have a mom and a dad because that’s what most people tend to assume. And you know, I feel like we’ve done as good a job as we can of that. My kids are four and a half now.
A few weeks ago my daughter came home from school and said, ‘Somebody at school, one of the teachers at school, she doesn’t know us and was talking about Mom.’ And I said, Oh really what did you say to her? ‘I told her we don’t have a Mom. We have two dads.’ Perfect, that’s all you need to say. In terms of being a gay parent, those are probably the only things that come up.
DN: What is the best part? Surprises and good stuff?
JM: The best part. . .They are just my kids. I just love my kids so much. They are so cool and it’s so amazing to have these two awesome new people in my life who are always around and occasionally throw tantrums but are very good kids (chuckles).
The other part is just the support that we’ve gotten and the love that we’ve felt from people and how happy people are to see a family like ours. You know, both our family and friends and for the most part complete strangers too will come up to us. I wrote a blog post recently about taking a trip to Disney World. Yeah, so we were really pleasantly surprised and just bowled over by how nice and how welcoming everybody was. It’s been kind of a fear of mine. How would we be received in this family friendly place and we were received like any other family, which was awesome.
DN: That’s great. You mentioned that you get support from your family. Do you still keep in contact with your surrogate, Tiffany? How close is Susie to your kids?
JM: She is very close. We will Skype or Facebook with Susie every two days or so. Um, I think Drew talks to her pretty much every day because she is his sister and kind of his best friend and the kids talk to her constantly, will email her pictures. She’s on Facebook. And the kids are very aware too that she is a special aunt. They’re still so young, they don’t necessarily know what egg donor means. But they do know the term “egg donor” and they will use it and say ‘It’s our egg donor. Two men can’t have a baby by themselves. They need help from a woman and we’ve had two women who’ve helped us.’ So, we’ll tell them in terms they can understand.
They also know the term surrogate and they know Aunt Tiffany was their surrogate. We used to see her somewhat regularly when we still lived in Southern California because that’s where she lives. When we moved back to New York a couple years ago, we obviously didn’t see her as much., but we’ll talk with her sometimes. We texted with her last night. Last year, we celebrated “Surrogate and Egg Donors Day,” the day before Mother’s Day. She and Susie both came out for that with their kids. We had like a big get together and it was really nice.
His Twins: Bennett and Sutton
DN: How did you come up with your kids' names?
JM: I think it’s the way anybody comes up with names. Brainstorming. Drew and I had been brainstorming pretty much since we first met. We would just toss out a name here and there, and be like, ‘Hey, I got one. Lincoln. What do you think of that?’ And we’d be like, ‘Oh no. What about Mason? Oh, that’s great!’ I was just keeping a list on my phone for years and then whatever we both agreed on would go on the list. When it came time, we had all these names to choose. I think Bennett had been on the list, but Sutton just kind of came out of nowhere. We had a hard time coming up with girls’ names. We had a few that we liked, but nothing really seemed to be right and then it was just sort of as we were thinking. One of those things that popped into our heads. ‘What about Sutton?’ We both really liked it and that was it.
DN: It’s fun to watch kids’ personalities take shape. What are your kids like?
JM: It’s funny. I’ve really enjoyed watching their personalities develop and a lot of it comes from me and Drew. They are very outgoing and chatty like Drew. They are also very silly like both of us. Very inquisitive. I think if I had to talk about them separate. Sutton is very, very girly and one of my fears was that in a family with all boys is that she wouldn’t feel comfortable with that side of herself or wouldn’t know how to express it. Boy was I wrong!
She has gone girly to the tenth degree! She loves getting her hair done, getting fancy dresses, even though Drew and I are not those kinds of gays. We’ve been learning. Bennett is just so funny. He’s the most loving child I’ve ever met. He’s also just very smart, very funny, loves to play. I mean it sounds silly. He’s a four year old. Of course he loves to play and play jokes and stuff. He’s a really sweet kid.
DN: In your book, you wrote a letter to your kids before they were born, stating “I’m going to let you figure it out on your own” regarding their career. Now that they’re older, do you have any career aspirations for your kids? Do you see things in them?
JM: Um, no I think they are still a little young for that. You know I’ll get all different kinds of things, like I want to be a princess from both of them to I want to be a firefighter from both of them. . . They’re still in that stage of anything is possible and I’m just kind of cherishing that. One of the things that I think I took away from my childhood and feeling repressed I guess for being gay is that I don’t want my kids to feel that. I don’t want them to feel that they have to be something for me to approve of them. I want them to feel that they can be whoever they are. They’re free to discover themselves and whatever they are. As long as they are true to themselves and they are happy, I will be happy for them.
Discrimination and Homophobia
DN: As far as dealing with people saying things, you know, discrimination and homophobia, is that something you dealt with after your kids were born?
JM: Honestly, no, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I really expected it, but it hasn’t materialized in any way that I’ve noticed. I’ve definitely come across people who are homophobic, but at least they’re polite enough to keep their views to themselves and keep out of my way. Nobody’s come up to me and said, ‘How dare you! You shouldn’t be raising children.’ All the things that you think somebody is going to say when you plan on being a gay parent. Thankfully, the only people who do come up to me and point out my family is a little different are extremely positive and very open and accepting.
Drew. Oprah. Writing time. Garbage Plates. Parenting Roles.
Read about all this and more by clicking on Part II, the second half of my interview with Jerry Mahoney.