8 things that happen when you have Irish twins

I know that the term Irish twins is not exactly the most PC term in the world but as I’m half Irish myself and have daughters just 11 months apart I’ve decided to ‘own it’ and use it anyway. It was my youngest’s birthday two days ago and the other half and I are now, for the next four weeks, parent’s to two two-year-olds! So I thought I should do a post about the things that happen when you have Irish twins:

1. You will be asked if they are twins. A lot. I get this all the time. People often stare at the girls for a while and you can see them trying to work it out before they even ask you. even though I’m usually sure by that stage that they know they are not, but just want to check anyway. At this time of year, when they are the same age, the ensuing conversation usually goes something like this:

Random person: “Are the girls twins?”

Me: “No, just sisters.”

Random person: “Oh, how old are they?”

Me: “They’re both two.”

Random person: “Oh. What’s their age gap?”

Me: “11 months.”

Random person: “Oh.”

2. People will judge you. This usually follows the conversation above. I’ve talked on this blog before about most new people I meet not realising that I am gay if it’s just me and the girls. So after asking if they are twins and me telling them that they are 11 months apart I usually get a ‘look’.

I’ve even had one mum (and it’s always the mums) say to me “oh, your poor wife”, as if this imaginary person would have had no choice in the matter! Although I think it’s probably worse if you are a woman as I imagine you’d probably be asked all sorts of personal questions that I wouldn’t.

3. It’s really hard sometimes not to treat them as if they are twins. Maybe it’s because of our situation – we got the girls only four weeks apart, with the youngest actually coming first (long story, which one day I’ll write about), so we’ve kind of always had the two of them. Sometimes I find myself treating the girls the same to make life easier and have to remind myself that they are different ages. It’s made harder by the fact that the youngest always wants to do what the eldest does. We have managed to do the big milestones separately though e.g. moving to a big bed and potty training.

4. Your youngest will probably appear quite advanced early on. People are often astounded when I tell them how old my youngest is. Her speech and sentence formation is often more developed than children quite a bit older than her. As my eldest learns new words or phrases my youngest usually picks them up within a few weeks.

5. Your children will probably be close. The girls, even though they had never really met until we adopted them, have such a lovely bond. Yes, they can fight like cats and dogs at times but other times they are so adorable together it brings a tear to my eyes. When my youngest started at nursery she was in the baby room but left to join the bigger kids after just three weeks because she spent the whole time wanting to be where big sister was.

6. Getting out and about can be hard. We have a double-buggy, which was fine for a while when the youngest wasn’t walking. Then we added a buggy-board for the eldest, which was fine too and meant the youngest could move to the front of the push-chair which kept her happy. Now my youngest is no longer happy sitting in the seat and wants to be on the buggy board. However, my eldest still struggles with walking any great distances. Either that or they both want to walk and I end up pushing a double-buggy whilst trying to herd two toddlers, capable of running at different speeds, along the street. Not easy.

7. You can re-use a lot of things. As one child stops using/playing with something the other is pretty much ready to start using/playing with it straight away. In our case, with 11 months apart, and the fact we have two girls the seasons even match; so something my eldest wears one summer my youngest can usually wear the following year. Yay for saving some money, because…

8. You’ll need two of all the expensive stuff. Just like with twins there is no escaping the fact that you’ll need two of pretty much all of the big stuff like cots/cot-beds, car-seats, high-chairs, travel cots. The oldest won’t have finished using these things before the youngest requires them and that can make things pretty expensive.

Why I’m forcing myself to become an early riser

I have never been a morning person. I’ve always felt like I should be getting up earlier but have never been able to achieve it. The result of this conflict is that I usually set my weekday alarm clock on my iPhone for 6am and then snooze until at least 7am. Sometimes 7.20 if its my partners turn to get the girls up. So snoozing every 9 minutes for an hour and 20 minutes. Crazy right?

In a bid to claw-back some time for myself to do things that I never have the energy to do by the end of the day, such as blogging – which I’ve been seriously bad at since starting this blog; progress with my novel – which still stands at around 6,000 words; exercise (I don’t even want to think about what I weigh) and practice meditation (I’m a recent convert and loving it) I’ve been trying out some of the tips on rising early in Leo Babauta’s brilliant blog Zen Habits.

So I’m currently on day four of waking up at 6am, which has been hard. Especially considering it has included New Years Day (gosh I remember the days I’d only be rolling in at 6am on New Years Day, not waking up!). I’ve had to leave my phone on the other side of the room and really battle with myself and resist the urge to crawl back into bed once I’ve scrambled across the room to turn it off. But oh has it been worth the effort. The amount I’ve done in these four days has been amazing. I’ve meditated every morning, written two blog posts, 500 words of my novel and done a new finance plan so that I can better manage my money in 2016. The only thing I haven’t done yet is exercise but I’m about to go for a run so that’ll be taken care of too.

By the time the girls and my partner wake up I already feel like I’ve achieved something and this puts me in a positive mood to tackle the rest of the day, free from the nagging thoughts of things I should have done or should be doing. This means that I can spend more quality time with my partner and the girls. If you’re struggling with time to do the things you want to do, I’d recommend trying getting up earlier too.

The next hurdle is pushing it back to 5.30am, as once I’m back at work I’ll need at least half hour to get myself showered and dressed before the girls wake at 7am, and I want a whole uninterrupted, blissful and peaceful hour to myself. I won’t even attempt this for about three weeks though. I’ve read it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so I’ve got to nail 6am first. I’ll let you know how I am getting on in a few weeks time.

Image ‘Sunrise Over Cape Yamu Phuket Thailand Panorama’ by Kim Seng

12 reflections of parenthood

In the spirit of being at the very end of the final month of the year and looking to the year ahead, I thought I’d look back on my first full year as a father with my twelve reflections of parenthood. So here they are…

1.  It’s been an amazing. It’s important to get this one in first because it best sums up my year. The girls have enriched my life beyond measure and brought me countless moments of joy. I’ve laughed and cried (tears of happiness) at things I never thought I would; such as as hearing “I need a cuddle daddy”; or when watching them try and experience something new for the first time. Parenthood is wonderful!

2. I cannot imagine life without my children. I’ve only been a parent for fourteen months but I cannot imagine what life would be like if I didn’t have the girls. Having children has caused my world to grow immensely and i’ve tried and experienced lots of new things that were just not on my radar, as a result of having them.

3. It’s hard work. As amazing as my girls are, parenthood is hard. Bloody hard in fact. There are times when I’ve wondered what the hell I’ve gotten into, feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing and that I am merely muddling my way through. At times like these it’s been great to talk to other parent’s, to hear that I’m not the only one and that we’re all just trying to do the best we can, for our children.

4. Being a stay-at-home-dad was not for me. I’ve only fully realised this now that I am back at work but being a stay-at-home parent was tough. It’s not something I’d ever change – I’m eternally grateful for the time I got to spend bonding with the girls, getting to know them, having fun with them and providing them (hopefully) with a nurturing and stable environment. However, by the end I felt like I struggled being at home all day. Work by comparison seems surprisingly easier now that I’ve returned. Maybe it’s because I cannot invest as much of myself and I’ve now got the balance right. The girls are thriving at nursery and I still get to have my ‘fabulous Friday’s’ with just them and me.

5. The tiredness does get better. Suddenly having two small people to look after – to feed, bathe, nurture and play with; coupled with reduced sleep meant that exhaustion levels at the beginning were high. However, I’m pleased to reflect that it does get better. Well either that or you just get used to it. I’m writing this post at 6.30am, having decided that this time is one of the few moments in the day when I can have some quiet time to myself. I, someone who would normally stay in bed until the latest possible time each day, have chosen to rise early. I couldn’t have imagined doing so 9 months ago as I’d have been too wiped out.

6. Your instincts count. There are so many books, guides and websites out there with conflicting information about how to do this, that and the other. The advice seems to change from week to week but you are a sensible person and you know you’re child best. So sometimes you just need to listen to your instincts. The decision to take my youngest to A&E, despite two visits to the GP in the previous two days both resulting in no diagnosis or prescription, was vindicated when it was confirmed that she had a bad chest infection and a raised heart-rate. Sometimes you just know.

7. Your children do not sound as loud in a restaurant as you might think. I’ve spent many occasions over the last year sat in restaurants cringing and thinking that my children have been causing my fellow diners to be put off their meals. In fairness this probably did happen on at least a few occasions, one memorable one being as my youngest projectile vomited across the floor. In most cases though it probably wasn’t as loud or disturbing as I thought. Not once have we had any evil stares, or tut-tuts from other diners. Please don’t be put off going to restaurants out of fear of your child having a melt-down. It happens and most people are reasonable. I’ve heard lots of people over the last year say “oh we never really go to restaurants”, which I think is sad.

8. My partner and I have very different parenting styles. And actually that’s okay. During the adoption process we talked at length about our parenting styles and how we would unite and align to be a consistent presence in our children’s lives. We talked about our parenting styles and truly believed that we would be similar in our approach. Then reality hit us like a ton of bricks, we felt like we were treading water and a kind of fight-or-flight reaction kicked in meaning that all of the ‘theory’ went out of the window and we suddenly realise that we do things very differently to how we expected. I thought I would be the softy but am totally the disciplinarian. The girls only have to pout and my partner gives in. We’ve even resorted to telling the girls that he has gone to the gym every evening (ha ha) after they have gone down to sleep, as they like to play up to get his attention (which he gives into), which they don’t do for me.

9. Being gay parents is still a novelty. We live in London and probably have a much different experience to people living in say the Outer Hebrides but we have still had some strange reactions. Most recently was our visit to Father Christmas with the girls. On entering the Grotto my partner and I, each with one of the girls in our arms, were asked “are you together?” We said yes. He then proceeded to ask my partner and youngest where they lived and he told them the street name. He then turned to me and asked the same question. I looked at him baffled and said the same street name and he said. “Oh you live on the same street?” “Yes, Father Christmas we all live together, we are a family”, I said. He turned as red as his suit as he realised his mistake. Nothing malicious in it at all, just a lack of awareness I suppose.

10. I now cry at the silliest of things. I’ve had many ‘oh my contact lenses are irritating me’ moments as I have blubbed while watching the say or do something. Watching my girls say ‘cheers’ with the milk cups in the morning sets me off, as does seeing them holding hands in the back of the car. Seeing my eldest sing Christmas songs at her nursery show had me in floods.

11. My home will never be as tidy as I’d like. Being a parent has made me realise how much I really do love having a tidy and ordered home. We currently have toys everywhere. Piles of washed but as yet unfolded clothes dominate our bedroom. Paperwork clutters the kitchen worktops. There are finger-prints, smudges, crayon marks and unidentified sticky substances on surfaces where there shouldn’t be across the house. I am slowly coming to realise that the magazine shoot ready home I’d love to have is just not going to happen with two little ones. And I’m okay with that. Sort of.

12. Cherish every moment. This is the advice we’ve been given by lots of parents with older children. As adoptive parents we’ve been very lucky to experience and enjoy some of the key early moments with our children, as we adopted them relatively young. But whether you’ve had your children from day one or year five, cherish every moment as they grow so quickly. The past year has seen the girls grow and develop from baby/toddler into little girls each with their own distinct personalities and character. This time next year I’ll be looking at primary school places for my eldest. It goes so quickly. Cherish every moment.

My first week back at work after adoption leave

My stay-at-home-dad journey is now over, my adoption leave has ended and I have joined the rat-race again. Oh how I’ve missed standing squashed under someone’s armpit, head tilted 45 degrees, trying to read my paper, while relying on the other sardines squashed onto the train to stop me from falling over as the train comes to a stop.

I’m sitting typing this as the girls nap upstairs on my first TFI Friday. I went back to work this week and I now work Monday to Thursday, so my TFI Friday is not about the weekend approaching but for it having already arrived. Yay!

I eased myself back into work this week as I had hit the jackpot with my new manager being away at a conference all week. I therefore spent most of the first day sharing stories, photos and videos of the girls with as many people as possible. I can’t tell you how many times people at work  have bored me with endless photos of their holidays, children or pets. A few choice photos are fine but I don’t need to see every detail. Yet even knowing this didn’t stop me from becoming one of those people and I merrily showed as many photos and videos of the girls as I could get away with without having my phone thrown out of the office window.

Having been starved of office gossip for over a year I sought out those loose-lipped colleagues who could give me the low-down on all the juicy office gossip. And boy was there some gossip. Lot’s of it.

It suddenly dawned on me as I looked at my holiday entitlement for the year that I should probably have gone back onto the payroll earlier, using some of my entitlement for this year. It would have meant those three hard months of being on zero pay would have been reduced. But I didn’t and I now find that I have got a ridiculous amount of leave to take. When I say ridiculous I obviously mean ridiculously fabulous! I spent a good chunk of a morning working out that I’ll need to take one week off every four weeks between now and March and planning when best to take it. The other half is very jealous of all the lie-ins I will get.

The rest of the week was filled with the inevitable calls to the IT department to get passwords reset for every bit of IT that I use. So lots of irritating music and being on hold. I attended a few meetings here and there and had the pleasure of experiencing the absolute novelty of receiving hardly any emails. All in all it was a good first week back, particularly because having started the girls at nursery four weeks before returning to work I knew they were happy and settled, which took a huge weight off my mind. When Thursday evening came I wandered around the office with such a smug grin on my face as I told people ‘see you on Monday’. It won’t last though. By next week I am sure it’ll feel like I never left. The work will pile up, the emails will come streaming in and the novelty of it all will have worn off.

It’s certainly not going to be easy juggling everything. I’m really not happy about setting the alarm clock for 6am; necessary so that I have enough time to get ready before the girls wake up like clock-work at about 6.50am. I am so not a morning person. It’s a mad dash to get them up, washed and dressed and out of the door by 7.50am for a brisk 10 minute walk to nursery before hoping that my three-part commute goes smoothly so that I can get into the office for 9am. The evening pick-up is not much easier either. I’ve already been that harassed looking parent running down the road trying not to get a lateness fine from the nursery.

Having said that I feel that once everything has settled down though that this phase of parenthood is going to be good. I get to engage my brain again, which I’m happy about but still get to spend a decent amount of time with my girls, including my special Friday when it’s just the three of us!

Our children are meeting their other siblings for the first time

It doesn’t feel like we ever stand still at the moment. Having returned from our holiday on Monday afternoon, then started back at work for the first time in a year on Tuesday; tomorrow we are taking the the girls to meet their two older brothers (who have been adopted together by the same family) for the first time.

We met up with the boys adoptive parents a couple of months ago, I suppose with the idea that we’d suss each other out and check we were all normal before introducing our children. They are a lovely couple and we got on really well with them and were both keen for our children to have direct contact with each other. To be honest they had me once they suggested they open a bottle of champagne!

We did actually end up meeting the boys and they were adorable, so well-mannered and there was definitely something about them that reminded us of our girls. Hopefully ours will turn out similarly well-behaved! We shared lots of photos and stories about our experiences, the boys asked us a few questions, which to my surprise didn’t include ‘why do they girls have two dads’ (maybe they saved that one for their parents). We all agreed to meet again soon to introduce the girls.

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Now that it’s approaching I am getting a bit nervous. I’m not sure what to expect to be honest. We’ve tried doing some very basic life-story work with the girls, mostly drawings with the girls of our little family and the boys with their parents and tried to explain that the boys are also a part of their family but it’s quite hard when they are both so young. They’ve not that long been used to the idea they themselves are sisters (they only met for the first time a year ago), let alone that they have these two older brothers that we’re only just mentioning.

We’re not sure how the boys, both at the older end of primary school age, will react to having two little sisters running around and probably attempting to climb all over them! Hopefully though it will be the start of a lifetime-lasting relationship. It’s really important to us for the girls to know who they are and where they’ve come from and knowing their older brothers is an important part of this.

Have you been in a similar situation? How has it all worked out? Any advice? Let me know in the comments.

My back-to-work life spring-clean starts here

Gosh when I wrote in my opening post that I didn’t know when I’d find the time to write I didn’t expect to have a gap of seven weeks between posts! I just don’t know where the time goes? Well actually I do – trips to A&E, family bereavements and funerals and kids birthday parties galore are just some of the things that have happened over the last few weeks.

Quite what it will be like once I’m back at work is anyones guess. Maybe I’ll have to take a days annual leave to write my next blog post? Anyway I’m here now and all it’s taken is a double wisdom teeth extraction this morning to give me the chance to sit still, guilt free, for long enough to write a blog post. As long as the pain-killers continue to work I might even finish it.

Time is flying by at the moment and I now find myself with just under four weeks until I go back to work (eek – this definitely warrants a separate post). One of those weeks will be spent in the French countryside with the other-half, the girls and my in-laws on a much needed holiday. For the rest of the time I have the luxury of some me-time as both girls are now at nursery four days a week (sob/hooray – depending on my mood). The other-half has not stopped going on about my free-time, dishing out jobs he thinks I should be doing and complaining that he hasn’t had any free time to himself; but I deserve it. It’s been a hard year. I think of this as my annual leave entitlement from my ‘job’ as a stay-at-home-dad all rolled into one.

As tempting as it is to spend the whole time sitting on the sofa stuffing my face whilst watching Netflix box-sets, or just generally procrastinating and wasting my time on a whole host of useless activities (see previous blog post); I’ve actually decided to use this time to do a much needed spring-clean of my life. Yes yes, obviously I know it’s autumn, but it feels appropriate and timely to do something to mark my transition from stay-at-home-dad to full-time-(squashed into a four-day week) worker.

I’m going to focus on four key areas of my life – Home, Mind, Body and Soul – and I plan to make some hopefully simple but effective improvements to make coping with the busy juggling of family, work and personal-life that little bit easier. Hopefully this will all result in a happier, healthier, calmer and more fun me that will benefit the girls, the other half and myself. I live in hope anyway.

I’ve decided I’m going to a write a separate post for each different area, to keep each one a decent length and, if I’m being completely honest, to ensure that I’ve got four posts lined up to keep me motivated to blog even when I might struggle to find the time! Wish me luck.

Confessions of a nap time procrastinator

Hello my name is Darren and I am a nap time procrastinator. There I’ve said it. I feel better already for letting it out there.

When I started my adoption leave I had grand plans to ‘get lots done’ during the girls nap time each day. I would write some more of the novel I have intermittently been working on for the last 18 months. I would read lots of books, focusing on the key works of literature that I have never got round to reading. I would start an online interior design course and do a little bit of work on this a few times a week. I would do little odd jobs around the house to ‘stay on top of things’.

The reality is I have done none of these things. I am ashamed to say that since having children, apart from the odd parenting book which I have flicked through, I have not read a single book. I am just too tired to read in the evenings. I did try, but after a week when I had only got to page four I gave up. I have not started an interior design course. I have written some of my novel – a grand total of about 800 words, which is the equivalent to a paltry 5 words a day for every weekday I have been on adoption leave. The mountains  of paperwork, the broken cupboard handles, the grubby-looking paintwork and the piles of pictures that need hanging are all a reminder that I have not ‘stayed on top of things’.

In fairness to me, I completely underestimated how much work it would be just to do the basics – tidying up the mess that the girls make, clearing away breakfast and lunch, keeping on top of the washing, doing the online weekly shop, planning and cooking dinners etc. However, underestimation is only part of the picture. Undoubtedly the biggest reason for my failure to do anything I had planned to do is that I spend most of nap time doing things that I really have no need to be doing. From browsing local planning and licensing applications to identifying which tent would be best for us to go camping (I’ve never been) to googling ‘what ever happened to Heidi from the Sugababes?’ – there appears to be nothing thats too ridiculous for me to waste my time on during nap-time.

Today for example, I have spent nap time doing a pencil sketch of what I would like my alcove cabinets to look like once we have the house refurbished! Of course we have yet to organise the finance, find an architect or even get planning permission for our project; but today, instead of emptying the washing machine, filling in the girls passport applications, organising the eldests haircut or sweeping up the post-lunch crumb littered floor; I plumped for imagining how backlit bookshelves might look and whether I could get a hidden pullout keyboard rest built into one of the cabinets.

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To make matters worse, now that I have finished doing that I have decided to blog about it. I just can’t help myself!

Yesterday I spent a good hour narrowing down areas of France or Spain that I might consider buying a second home in. Now bear in mind that we are going to need to rein in our spending to pay the 2 x nursery fees we will be faced with once I return to work, let alone have money to buy a second home and you can see what a ridiculous waste of an hour of my life that was. I even picked out some properties that I liked that were within my imaginary budget!

Every day after wasting my time with something or another I find myself glancing at my watch, realising with horror that the girls will be waking up in about 10 minutes and rush about trying to tidy up or make a necessary phone call before they do.

I suppose even writing this blog is a form of procrastination, although I like to think of it as something important and worthwhile. A kind of therapy. Maybe now I have ‘spoken’ about my problem I might be able to do something about it. I wonder what would come up if I type ‘procrastination into Google…

Life’s a beach when you have kids

It’s amazing how having children can completely open ones eyes to something that had been taken for granted before. I realised this as my partner, the girls and I splashed our feet about in the sea over the weekend on our visit to the grandparents.

My partner’s parents live very near to the beach and for the last 12 years we’ve gone down to visit them about one weekend a month. However, in that whole time I never really made the most of being so close to the sea. I could probably count the times I’ve been down to the beach on both hands. Which is ridiculous really now that I think about it.

Since the girls arrived we’ve made much more of an effort to go down to the beach each time we visit. The sea air does something to the girls which is wonderful to watch – they come alive, their appetites grow and they sleep so soundly at night, usually waking a whole half-hour later than the crack-of-dawn they usually do! It’s beautiful to watch them scrambling across the pebbles looking for shells, building sand-castles or seeing their confidence grow when splashing about in the sea.

Having lived in London all my life, and with the beach only ever a very occasional treat for me growing up, it’s lovely to think that the girls will grow up experiencing both city and coastal life. I love the idea that they’ll try things that I never have. Maybe they’ll learn to windsurf or sail, both of which seem so alien to my resolutely urban self. I love the fact that they will experience a slower, cleaner, greener existence to counter-balance the faster pace of city life.

Thinking about all of this has made me realise it’s also an opportunity for me to experience something new too. I spend a weekend a month by the sea, I need to make the most of it. I’ve resolved to bring my running gear with me on our monthly visits from now on, so that I can go running along the beach in the early mornings – something I’ve always wanted to do; and weather permitting I’m going to have a proper swim in the sea. Well at least once a year anyway.

 

Photo: Cloud-Cukoo-Land.com

Keep calm and carry on potty training

It’s the middle of summer and I return to work in 12 weeks time (eek), so now seems like as good a time as ever to start potty training with S my eldest, who is now two-and-a-half.

As with everything to do with parenting there is so much conflicting information out there about when to start potty training and how to go about it. My partner and I have changed our minds on numerous occasions about whether S is ready to be potty trained or not but from tomorrow we are giving it a go.

I’m not anticipating it’s going to be easy. In fact I think it’s going to be an absolute nightmare, partly because I know I’ll struggle to remain upbeat when there is a puddle of pee or a pile of poo on the floor and partly because my daughter is likely to be so distracted by the world around her that pausing for a second to realise she needs the toilet, or that she’s already been, is difficult for her. My youngest, M, on-the-other-hand, who has just turned 18 months, already proudly lets me know every time she does a poo and tells me to ‘change nappy’. I was tempted to just try potty training with both at the same time but quickly scrapped this idea when I found M with the potty on her head saying ‘pretty hat’. I think just getting one child trained at a time is plenty!

The plan is to go nappy free from tomorrow morning, letting S wear just a small pair of knickers (I have bought a 10 pack – I hope this is going to be enough), putting her on the toilet every half hour and just taking it from there really. I have a book of stickers ready as a reward for successes and plan to remain calm no matter what little surprises I might find around the house.

We can do this. I am writing this for myself more than anything else. At least we don’t have any carpets, so cleaning up any ‘spills’ should’t be too bad. I am just praying that we don’t have any accidents on the rugs or soft furnishings!

I am going to keep a diary of how it’s going, I’ll post up our progress later in the week. If you’ve already been through potty training let me know what worked for you in the comments. Wish us luck!

 

Header Image by Paul Bica

I finally ‘get’ Pride now that I am a gay parent

The phrase ‘you don’t know you’re born’ came to mind as I left the cinema one evening after seeing the brilliant film Pride last year. My partner and his best friend, who are lets just say a ‘couple’ of years older than me, were telling me about what it was like to be a gay man in London in the 80s, how tiny the gay scene was, the challenges that gay people faced and how political it all was. It really hit home how easy I’ve had it and how lucky I am.

I came out in 2002 to a family who accepted me unquestioningly; and I’ve lived my whole life in London, one of the most open and tolerant places in the world. Being gay has never affected my education, career, relationships, friendships or even my chances of becoming a parent. It’s probably for this reason that I’ve never felt particularly connected to or strongly about the various gay political movements.

Of course I sympathised with the plight of people in countries around the world where being gay is illegal. I’ve been horrified by stories places like Saudi Arabia and Jamaica where people are persecuted because of their sexuality. But I suppose I’ve been a bit ignorant about the causes and issues that are important to so many people who still feel disadvantaged or marginalised here in the UK; the people who still feel unable to come out to their families or people at work or the people who grow up in less tolerant towns and villages and face verbal or physical abuse for being themselves.

Even Pride, arguably the biggest gay event of the year, with it’s all it’s political history tended to pass me by. My one and only attendance at Pride was in 2002 when there was a festival in Hackney Marshes. As a newly out bright-eyed twenty-two-year-old Pride was just a great big fabulous excuse for a party. I went with a group of friends and spent the day drinking and dancing, oblivious to the march or any of the issues that Pride gives a voice to.

Now, as a gay adoptive father of two, I finally feel like I have something to get angry about. When articles like this utter tripe are being written about gay adoption; when prominent gay people such as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana can denounce non-traditional families; and when Republican presidential candidates can call gay parents ‘unconscionable and a destructive’ it makes me realise how much work there is to be done to educate against the ignorance that still exists. Despite research showing that children living in same sex parent families are not negatively impacted, a quick look in places such as the comments section on any same sex parent related article on the Daily Mail will uncover a whole host of backward and bigoted views.

This ignorance could be directed at my children at the school gates or in the playground. This ignorance could prevent a gay person from choosing to adopt out of fear for how they or their child will be accepted. This ignorance might cause a child to be left in care for even just a second longer than is necessary. And this makes me mad.

I feel that the best way to tackle the bigots is to just be ourselves, to be the best parents that we possibly can be. Every child that we raise to be happy, confident and prejudice-free is a kick in the teeth to those who believe it is somehow wrong or unnatural for us to parent children.

So I finally get what Pride is all about. I now see that Pride, with the attention it demands in the media, is the perfect opportunity to proudly show the world that same-sex parent families are here, happy and doing just fine. This weekend, I will be attending for the first time in 13 years and I will be there at the march with my partner and my children to show solidarity, not only with other gay families (those who have already fulfilled their dream of a family and those who are still on their journey) but with every LGBT person affected by discrimination or prejudice. And then I’ll have a drink and a dance. Because, well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it?