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What It's Really Like to Have Two Dads

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What is it like to be raised by two people of the same sex? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Zachary Matheson, my dads are gay, on Quora.

For a long time I hesitated to respond to this question because the answer is so boring. But I think the mundanity actually reveals something important and often overlooked about same sex parenting.

Bill and Tim adopted me at birth in 1987. Bill was an up and coming lawyer in a big property management firm. Tim was a psychologist and the oldest of nine kids.

Tim put his career on hold to raise me. Bill kept working to pay the bills and put food on the table.

When I started school, Tim packed my lunch. Bill donned a suit and tie and headed to the office early each morning.

Tim was a health nut. Bill took me to the movies and McDonalds.

Tim picked me up from school and cooked the family dinner. Bill couldn't cook an omlet to save his life. He went on business trips and always brought me back presents from the road.

Bill was stoic. He hugged me but it didn't come natural, as if affection was a second language learned late in life. Tim was fluent. He always wrapped me up tight in his arms. Tussled my hair. Kissed my forehead.

When I went off to college, Tim was sad that I didn't call home more often. I'm not sure Bill even noticed I was gone.

When I joined the National Guard and was shipping off to basic training, Tim was beside himself. Bill told me to have fun.

When the love of my life left me, Tim held me like I was 10 again, and I cried on his shoulder. Bill took me to get burritos.

So what's it like being raised by two dads? It's boring. I don't mean, like, waiting for water to boil boring. I mean boring like humdrum, mundane, plain, vanilla. Because being raised by two dads is just like being raised by a mom and a dad. My mom just happens to be a guy.

  • Some have been asking what I called my parents growing up. Dad differentiation was a constant struggle in the early years. If memory serves, at first I tried calling them both "Dad." Didn't work for obvious reasons. Then I called them by their first names. They didn't much like that. Finally we settled on "Daddy" (Bill) and "Poppie" (Tim). Still using those.
  • Wondering who "Mom" is in the photo? He's the one on the left, with the loving, you'll-always-be-my-baby-boy, double-handed death grip on my shoulders.
  • For those wondering how Tim feels being called "Mom." I asked him and he told me a story. Apparently, when I was in grade school I ran up to him one day and out of the blue said, "You're my mom because you make my lunch and arrange my play dates and stuff." To which he laughed and said, "Okay, Zach." Point is that he has known from way back that I view him as a mother figure. So when he read this post, he said, being described as Mom "didn't faze me."
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