Um.....Duh? oh, and ..../Facepalm!
Someone had to study this to confirm it?! I know that most blogs are framing this as yet another scientific factoid that can help build bridges with people who are still struggling to deal with the notion of gay marriage, gay parenting, and homosexuality in general but the that the fact required a scientific analysis just boggles my mind. So....let me put this issue to bed(har har) once and for all....
I think I have said frequently that parenting is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I love being a dad, even when I don't like being hip deep in diapers and dirty laundry. Parenting is also very challenging and you're always on duty, twenty four-seven. We often don't get private time until the kids are in bed asleep. So while you still have all the sexual drive you have always had...finding time to express it can be a challenge. You have to find new definitions of spontaneity as kids are genetically wired to detect closed doors. As soon as a doorknob clicks shut they instantly have a question, owie, or issue that simply must be resolved now. So we wait for nap times, schedule activities for them outside the house, or wait till they go to bed at night. But playing the "wait till bedtime" strategy doesn't often pay off as by then you are so tired too that sex comes in a distant second to your desire to pass out. I mean it...there is so much activity in a house with kids that the peacefulness of a house at rest is seductive. I just want to soak in it like a hot bath....and then I usually wake up on the couch three hours later when my husband comes home.
But you do find time to get together....and plenty of it. As the article states, the decline in the frequency of sex is something that you just take as part of being a parent and you get creative to make sure that you find time to bond with your partner, to appreciate each other, and also to maintain your sense of yourself as a sexual being. Those things are an important part of of our relationship health as well as our own personal psychological health. Being a house dad can sometimes make me feel like my sexier years are behind me...as my beard grays, my waistline begins to look like my dads I start to feel more in common with Santa Claus than Magic Mike. We as parents sometimes struggle with a non-sexual image of ourselves as a parent and the reality that we are sexual beings that desire to be seen as vital and alive. Many of us chose to live on one end of that spectrum exclusively but most of us struggle to strike a balance.
However, what this article doesn't address...and should be equally obvious...are the other ways in which gay parents share the same challenges as our heterosexual counterparts. Like when the kids we had prekids stop calling and coming around so often because we can't leave the house at the drop of a hat or because all we tend to talk about are our kids. Or navigating the tough questions.....Will one of us stay at home with the kids? How do we handle discipline if both of us have different parenting styles. How do we maintain our sense of our selves as individuals with interests outside being a parent and a member of a larger sense of family identity? If one of us does stay home, how do we deal with the loss of income? If we have to work, how do we make deal with the feeling that we are missing vital time with the kids? How do we talk to when we just need to blow off steam? The list is endless...But what your wont find on that list is a difference in the way gay couples feel when facing these issues....nor any difference in the way we tackle those issues.
Perhaps it isn't as obvious as I feel it should be. After all, I labored under a host of stereotypes about gay people that I had to unlearn....many very vicious ones. I had no other perspective into the gay community to know that all gay men weren't sex obsessed, alcoholic, lonely, predatory creatures. I blush to type that now but that was what I truly feared was my fate and I had no one to tell me otherwise. I guess it should not come as any surprise to me that studies like this actually do open the eyes of people who saw gay people only as sexual creatures instead of whole human beings. In the minds of many Americans...gay sex is the very first thing they think of when thinking of any topic involving the gay community. It is the feature by which we are most often defined...though thankfully that is a changing dynamic. Being a gay anything is still assumed by the world at large to be different from its straight analogue because we are perceived to be fundamentally different by so many. That is the core of the work we do to bring equality....not to force people to accept some odd and foreign concept but to remind them of our sameness and common humanity.
Bottom line...gay families function the same as straight families with very few exceptions. We struggle with the same issues plus some extra. For some, this study will be enlightening and may serve as that view into a community that they may otherwise not have had. For others of us, this is more science of the obvious. Things we wish the world could just "get" but often doesn't.
But now I open the podium to my readers...and especially the parents in the room. How do you navigate the rocky shoals of parenthood and sex?...Can you view yourself as equal parts Ward/June Cleaver and sex magnet? Do you think that this scientific study is a good and necessary statement about the equality of gay parenting or an unnecessary statement of the obvious? Inquiring minds want to know.....
Until next time dear readers....
P.S....To my parents: Feel no need to respond to this blog post. There just isn't enough bleach in the world to wash that image out of my head.....thank you.