This blog post was originally written in Russian about ten years ago. In the information vacuum of nowaday’s Russia, it was reposted multiple times and hopefully helped a large number of young gay people and their parents to navigate life challenges.
I thought that at the present moment, this post is valuable only from the historical perspective. But to my surprise, it turned out that many people are still not completely aware of what it means to be homosexual. And I decided to write this post again, this time – in English. Here it comes.
People often ask me when did I learn about Vlad’s sexual orientation. The short answer: shortly after he had figured it out about himself. Which was a little bit after Anna suspected that it was the case. At that time, he was a couple of months short of being fourteen, and I’ve noticed that he looked sad and concerned for several days. I was bugging him with the questions, what was wrong, but he brushed off my concerns. That could not deceive me; I was sure that something serious is going on. Finally, I got a chance to talk to him one night when everybody else was out.
I asked him to share with me what was wrong. He started: you are going to be very disappointed with me. Perhaps, you won’t love me anymore, but I need to tell you something. I think that I am gay.
Better later than never:). We visited the Shedd with Anna and Nadia when they were last time in town, on September 21. And back then I said: I need to write a thank you letter to the Aquarium! And I meant to write a blog post, but never did. So here is it.
Shedd is one of my most favorite places, but out of all my children, only Anna shares my love. And when we were deciding where to go with Nadia, we both voted for this destination.
I used to have a family membership to Shedd when I had kids at home, but now I have an individual one. Still, they gave me a free guest pass, including the show.
We were all wondering, how Nadia will react to her first Aquarium visit (she saw the whales in the ocean when they were in Australia), and belugas and whales indeed enchanted her.
The thing I wanted to mention is how much more toddler-friendly Aquarium has become since my kids were kids. The whole Polar Play Zone is designed just for kid’s play and exploration. And we were extremely grateful for the cafe staff. When we picked our food, we were asked multiple times whether we know that this kids’ dish is cold. When Nadia spilled her milk, four people rushed to our table, all reassuring that everything is alright, one mopping the floor, another wiping the table, yet another putting the “wet floor” sign, and another staff bringing a new mild carton (we thanked, but didn’t take:)) And while cleaning they were asking how are we enjoying the visit, aside of this spilled milk :). I thought it was so-so nice of them!
Anna and Nadia were staying with me last weekend. The main reason was “All kids’ birthday,” but we were also hoping to spend some time together and to do some girls stuff. Which we did, and while the girls were here I was thinking (as I usually do in such cases) about how much parenting had changed since the time I had small children.
It’s also worth noting that I was in the process of listening to the audiobook “All the rage.” In addition to the fact that this book makes you think about gender inequality at home like never before, there was something else.
I always use my own life as an example of “you can have it all.” I used to say that if you plan everything carefully and can distinguish important things from unimportant, you can be a successful parent and a successful professional. And I still believe it is true, but it depends on how you define a successful parent.
My older son birthday is on September 28, and my twins birthday is on August 23. And since for the past ten years it was challenging to get everybody together in one place, we stopped trying to do it twice, and ended up having one big “combined” birthday. This year the day was September 22 – we had the most lovely brunch at Maison Parisienne in Lakeview.
To cover the past two weeks: it was crazy at work. An interesting fact is that it was mostly good stuff. Good things were happening, and some decisions I’ve been waiting for for a long time were finally made and approved. But it was tiresome. When you need to sit at the meetings for 6 to 7 hours every day, and not just “sit,” but actively listen and participate, you are done by the end of the day — so done, as if you worked 16 hours straight.
There was also a lot happening outside work — things related to the December conference in Chicago, which I am heavily involved in. Boris and I were finalizing yet another paper submission. I was trying to make sure my direct report will present our work at another conference, which I am unable to attend. All stuff with my Mom. All things with my volunteering.
And then I took two days off and went to Madison to babysit my granddaughter Nadia. I can’t remember another moment in my life when I would gladly disconnect from my work email, Slack, etc. I checked what was going on a couple of times (literally!), but without any hesitation replied: this can wait till Tuesday.
It still took me some time to relax, but by midday Saturday, when I was leaving, I already felt pretty good.
I returned home to my long weekend to-do list, but I am keeping thinking about everything that happened during this visit, most about my conversations with Anna. A couple of months ago, I started to write a post about Anna’s and my parenting styles, and then put it aside. I think now I will be able to finish it :).
I’ve returned from my Amsterdam vacation on July 3, just in time to dive into the 4th of July festivities. That was the plan; during all my twenty-three years in the US, there was only one time when I was out of the country on this day. It happened two years ago, back then there was no option for me to be away from work for more than a couple of days, and I went to Helsinki to see Boris taking only one day off in addition to the long weekend.
And I felt that I’ve missed out for the whole year! Something had happened, and I was not a part of it! After all, missing a birthday of the country is almost like missing a birthday of a family member.
After that one time, I’ve told Boris I will never do it again and agreed to come to Amsterdam before the conference only under a condition that I will be back to the US for the holidays.
I am spending this weekend with my family and friends, and the best part of it is feeling being a part of my community.