Interview with John Jericiau by The Next Family
TNF: How has it been blogging for TNF?
I’ve always loved to write, but writing for an audience has been especially rewarding. I love getting the feedback about my writing and using it to improve in the following week’s blog. I’m always surprised when someone in my circle of friends or even in my community sounds so sincere about just how much they enjoy my writing. Wow! I love sharing experiences that my family and I are having in the world, since I’m just so proud of my family. Even the act of writing “my family” in the last sentence brings me such joy.
TNF: How is your family like every other family and how is it different?
Sometimes I feel like June Cleaver because I’m part of a typical American family. We try to get through the day with upbeat optimism like any other family. As a couple we have concerns about money and the economy, we argue about silly things just like anyone else, and we try to raise our children to become productive members of society. We get annoyed at each other for hogging the comforter on a cold night, and at the end of the day we can’t wait to tell each other how our day went. As a family we love to travel together, sing together at the top of our lungs in our minivan, go to the movies, and read books together. We cherish our similarities (like we all were born on the 22nd day of a different month, or all of our first names end with the letter n) and we marvel at our differences (like we are each a different skin shade).
On the other hand our family is unique. One is Armenian and one is Italian. One is adopted and one is the product of IVF. One is African American and one is a blonde surfer type. One of us can sing really really well, and one of us appears to be a good dancer. One of us graduated with a 4.0 from Berkeley, and one of us has swam around the island of Key West. One of us was born in NYC, one in Tehran, one in Santa Monica, and one in Hollywood. We all speak two languages, though not the same two for everyone. We all love to swim.
TNF: Did your family accept you and your lifestyle? If yes, explain and if not explain what you have done to help them to accept your decisions and your lifestyle.
My family accepted me almost immediately upon telling them “the situation” when I was fresh out of undergraduate school. A bit puzzled at first since I was very athletic, had most recently been in a 3-year relationship with my college sweetheart, and had many (and I mean many!) girlfriends in high school, they listened, grieved, and then showed nothing but acceptance from that point forward. I had some trailblazers that, before my coming out, taught my parents a few things about gay life: 1) an uncle; 2) a very close family friend; and 3) Billy Crystal on an old primetime sit com called SOAP (although Billy didn’t exactly help my cause!). And it wasn’t until Greg Louganis came out that my parents felt that the whole athletic jock thing jived with being gay.
TNF:How do you juggle the work at home with your jobs?
It’s a daily miracle that anything gets done around the house. Except for an average of 4 ½ hours per week of physical therapy (my life profession) that I perform in the evenings at a nearby clinic, I have abandoned my career to be a stay-at-home dad. It’s commonly referred to as a SAHD, although it’s not sad at all. I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity, and never have and never will take it for granted. I worship the ground that Alen (the breadwinner) walks on, and try my hardest to support every endeavor (and there are many!) that he attempts. Anyway, it’s a challenge to deal with everyone’s schedule and laundry and taste buds, but I’m trying my best! Being organized helps. Being proactive helps. Going with the flow helps. Sleep helps. Prayer helps.
TNF: What lessons do you feel are the most important to teach children in this day and age? Are there any lessons they, or perhaps we as parents, should unlearn?
Teach, no, demand tolerance in your children. Tolerance of the diversity that exists in this great world. The diversity of cultures, of genders, of races, of lifestyles. Give children specific examples and show them that it’s okay to be different. Johnny has two mothers? Great! Mark in your class likes Barbies? Awesome! Maria speaks Spanish? Fantastic! Teacher Talin wears a scarf on her head all the time? Interesting! Even parents need to learn to “clean the slate” and accept things that they may not have grown up with or be accustomed to. It’s amazing how closely our kids watch us and learn from us. Once when the boys were 2 or 3, we were riding in the minivan and I was cut off by someone not paying attention. I blurted “IDIOT!!!” and that was immediately adopted by both boys as the name to call each other when they’re mad. To this day I have to live with that erroneous outburst. I lost an opportunity to teach them that although Daddy was not happy with her driving skills, he should be tolerant of everyone’s driving skills on the freeway, even if she was applying makeup in her rearview mirror.
TNF: Any words of wisdom to pass on to our readers?
Each and every person on this Earth is trying to make it through each day in their own unique way, with their own unique thoughts, and with their own unique past. To expect people to fit into a few neat perfect categories is ludicrous. Diversity is normal, expected, and needed in a world where people help one another to survive. I learned some things in my athletic career that have stuck with me. First, I can look at the thousands of other runners in a marathon I’m racing in, and although we are all running at our own pace, we are all feeling the same pain as we push ourselves along the course. So it is in life. You’re less different than you think from the people around you. Secondly, I’ve learned to take things one step at a time. When I left home on my bicycle to embark on a 5500 mile solo ride from New York to Washington State and then down the entire Pacific Coast to San Diego when I was 22, I would have been completely overwhelmed had I thought about the magnitude of my endeavor as a whole. When I have raced the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run), it wasn’t prudent to consider the whole race at once. Dissect the race or the ride into smaller more digestible parts, and it’s a lot easier to swallow. So it is in life. Accept the challenge ahead of you, and then attack it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one moment at a time. And if you’re just a regular family trying to teach by example tolerance and understanding, start with one neighbor, one classmate, one person.
TNF: Anything you want our readers to know about you or your family?
My one vice is Diet Coke. And ice cream. And gum.
My family life has been viewed by thousands of people through a 15-minute documentary called A Family Portrait, which has shown at many of the major film festivals around the country. Due to its overwhelming success, the producers have turned it into a feature film (which they are currently filming) called Modern Family: A Documentary. (http://www.indiegogo.com/Modern-Family-Feature-Documentary)
My family will grow by at least one in the next year with the (fingers crossed) successful pregnancy of our surrogate after the (hopefully) beaucoup production of fertilizable eggs from our donor. This will be immediately followed by the ceremonious tying of each others’ tubes in a quaint gathering among family and friends.