When my husband, son and I moved to Durham in the late summer of 2013 we began to seriously discuss faith and religion in regard to our little boy.
I would simply be happy to know that he had some, faith that is.
It would be a lie to say that what form that faith takes ever weighed too heavily on me. I can, however, say that belonging and believing are two very important concepts to me, two words that are naturally and undeniably entwined within me.
Is it possible to do one without having the other?
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I honestly don’t believe so.
As a matter of fact, my own personal sense of belonging has always faded when believing became less plausible, less real.
I actually surprised myself when I suggested our son be baptized soon after his birth in 2011.
I thought I had left those ideas tucked away with a much younger and idealistic version of myself.
My relationship with the Church had come to an end in my early teens when I no longer felt accepted, welcomed or at home.
Growing up in that world and coming to terms with being gay can either drag you into a life of secrecy and denial or force you out to seek solace and comfort in the arms of different schools of thought.
My husband supported me, as he always has, and our son actually wore the same christening gown I was baptized in 50 or so years ago.
Now, I will not entirely credit (nor blame) my early Roman Catholic upbringing for that.
I’m actually just a nervous kind of man that never much believed in taking those sorts of chances, more so with my child’s future at stake.
As a matter of fact, at our wedding I wanted a priest, a chuppah and I wanted to jump a broom as well.
Much like taking all the good bits from traditions, from every type of faith, and stirring it all up in a giant holy pot and serving it with a side of humor and a grain or two of salt.
I only got one, the priest.
My husband, although only lightly raised in his family’s own watered-down version of the Protestant faith, had turned his eyes and heart toward Judaism long before he met me.
After years of classes and meetings with rabbis and finally completing his conversion we happily saw his dreams become a reality last year.
He had asked that our little man be a part of his conversion, and I agreed.
We traveled to a lovely temple in Richmond, Virginia, where my husband found a wonderful way to include me by asking that I choose our son’s Hebrew name.
I chose Zeb, it means “gift from God” and could not be more perfect or true.
I love my spouse and support him with every ounce of my being, but I will not be following suit.
Judaism is too intellectual for me, so much thinking, reading and discussing.
I have always felt better served by using my heart more than my head, relying on an inner, unseen, feeling rather than a written word.
You could even say that I’m a bit like a hummingbird when it comes to religion. Ever so lightly swooping down and taking my fill for as long as I need to, staying only as long as I believe and then moving on in search of where I belong.
So will our boy believe and belong to a group or tribe that makes his heart sing?
Will he identify with the God that my husband or I once did?
Will he be a faith-filled hybrid like the daddy that writes this story or will he be a scholar, a reader, a carrier of traditions like the dad that sits across from me?
Or better yet, will he surprise us with his own revelations based on new experiences yet to be revealed in this ever evolving world?
All I can hope for at this moment in time, as I close my eyes in prayer or chant or meditation or whatever, is that he belong to people that believe in him and love him and accept him.
Now, I cannot predict what the future holds nor would I want to.
It is not possible to guess what our grown son will hold dear nor can I be sure that any of the decisions that we make for him today are the best ones, but I guess that’s what parenting really is right?
We don’t really need all the answers, just a little faith.
You can reach Henry Amador-Batten at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the writer
Henry Amador-Batten lives in Durham where he is a writer, life coach, advocate for family equality and a stay-at-home dad to his son. He and his husband are the founders of DADsquared, (www.dadsquared.org/) an international community offering support and resources to gay fathers. He can be contacted at email@example.com