In 1996, Hilary Clinton published the NY Times Bestselling book, "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us." The premise of the book was the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child's well-being, and advocates a society which meets all of a child's needs. As I see my own children grow and watch their personalities emerge, I recognize the village of extended family Donna and I are reliant upon to help us raise strong, well-adjusted children. Because Donna and I don't have immediate family nearby, that village has been especially important to our family.
We are blessed with strong men and women who can provide the type of nurturing we can't. Hunter and Skye both crave male attention and we have two great neighborhood Dads that are close to them. For one of the Dads, who has two beautiful girls with his wife, Hunter provides that surrogate son experience. His name is Mike and he has a passion for fishing, which Hunter loves, too. Despite my best efforts and even having procured a fishing license of my own, I just don't have the knowledge and skill that Mike does. I also don't have that male perspective and understanding that Hunter needs at times. Mike is a wonderful blessing to our family, because he takes the time out of a busy family schedule of his own to spend with Hunter. We also have Frank, a police officer in town, whose daughter is in the same class with Hunter. He's as passionate about fishing as Mike. And, he's always there with a hug and an ear for Hunter. I firmly believe that Hunter is fishing for more than the "catch of the day" when he's in the company of these great men. He's also collecting great tips on how to be a strong young man. I know he'll be a great Dad if he's blessed with children of his own someday, in large part because of Mike's and Frank's influence.
Mike's wife Cyndi, is an actress who brings the glamour into Skye's world. Skye is all about wardrobe and accessories. I often joke that God has a great sense of humor and demonstrated it when he blessed Donna and I with a little girl who is all about pastels, clothes, shoes and handbags. Thank goodness Cyndi has the skills and passion for those things. Cyndi and Mike have two older girls, one of whom is Hunter's class. I love that I can bounce things off her and that Skye is the lucky recipient not only of her girl's hand-me-downs, but also of their love and friendship.
Another important person in Skye's life is her Godfather, whom she calls her Poppa. Her Poppa also happens to be her uncle, Donna's brother. One day Skye told me that she really wanted to have a Dad. I had to stop my own defensiveness when she told me that and open myself up to hear that she wanted a strong man in her life. She sees her friends at pre-school who have Dads and she felt like she was missing out. So, Uncle Terry stepped up to the challenge and has helped fill that need.
I don't know of any family that doesn't have some reliance on their community as they raise their children. And it's heartening to know that Donna and I positively contribute to our community and to our friends as they raise their families and the topic of homosexuality comes up. This year I was interviewed by a sixth-grader for a middle-school project on Gay Marriage. That child's project was entered into a state-wide contest, and will be voted on at Rutgers University in May. I'm very proud that our family has become a living example of an often controversial topic and that the argument for Gay Marriage is strengthened because of how they see us living our lives.
- Stacy Graffam
- I'm a lesbian mom in an inter-racial relationship, living in Bergen County, NJ. My wife and I are raising two beautiful children, an eleven year-old son and a six year-old daughter. I'll be sharing our adventures in faith and parenting on a regular basis. My entries are also published in Gay Parent Magazine (www.gayparentmag.com).