Daisy's Story, from Suddenly Pregnant to Suddenly Gay: "Be Who You Are Unapologetically"
Athena interviewed Tony Award winner Daisy Eagan to reveal her surprising journey to motherhood, co-parenting, polyamory and queer identity. Athena and Daisy first met when they were performing on New Years Eve together, as part of Broadway Sings for Pride.
Athena: What is the path that led to your family?
Daisy: This is a very long and windy story. Basically, my ex and I found out I was 10 weeks pregnant while we were broken up. For whatever reason we decided to have the baby (I’m still not entirely sure what led us to that decision.). We got back together and made a go of it. Eventually we broke up, but because of finances we found it easier to keep living together (because who the hell can afford a two whole bedroom apartment in NYC?). It turns out we got along much better once we weren’t romantically involved.
I consider my son’s father, Kurt, to be an anchor partner. We’re very close. We share emotional intimacy. We love each other and drive each other crazy. We lean on each other for emotional and financial support. We’re raising an amazing kid together. Our son, Monty, calls us parentmates. That seems to be the best description for what we are.
I have another partner, Ryan, who lives in Seattle. We’ve been together less than a year, and there’s an entire country separating us, but I think if they lived closer I would probably consider Ryan to be part of my nuclear chosen family. As it is, Ryan is a part of my larger chosen family.
Athena: How has it made your life worse? How has it made it better? What has been the most surprising?
Daisy: Having a kid was the most surprising and best thing I ever decided to do. Monty has made my life infinitely better. He gave me a clean slate. All the regrets I had over past “mistakes” could be released because they all led me to him.
I think our decision to stay together as co-parents has made all our lives better. Monty gets two parents in the same place. He doesn’t have to get shuttled around. And honestly, I think Kurt and I fight less than most married couples I know. That may be because I realized that I’m pretty gay, and trying to live in a heterosexual relationship was causing me unconscious stress and anger. Being unburdened from Kurt’s sexual satisfaction has made it easier for me to like him. Also, sometimes, when Kurt is making me insane, it helps to think that I’m not stuck for the rest of my life.
Having a kid and staying partnered with his dad has, at times made my life harder, certainly, but it hasn’t made it worse. Dating is definitely harder. It’s hard for some people to understand how two people can be so close without sleeping together. But, I’m polyamorous, so any potential partner I meet is going to already be open to the idea of other partners. Also, while living with Monty’s dad saves on babysitting costs, I can’t exactly bring dates home willy-nilly. Not that I have a lot of dates because, honestly, who has the time?
Athena: What gets you through the tough times?
Daisy: I spend a lot of time reminding myself that this, too, shall pass. Maybe I’m lucky that I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my life. It puts things into perspective.
We struggled a lot the first five years after we had Monty. We were broke, we ended up homeless more than once. There were alcohol abuse issues. Mental health problems. Postpartum depression. Family of Origin trauma. Sometimes, honestly, the only thing that got me through was looking at Monty and seeing how content he was to play with whatever was in front of him. It reminded me to remain present. Also, it was important to me that Monty not suffer from whatever struggles we were going through. Life is short, and we have so little time to be truly happy. I tried to be aware of not letting my problems infect my interactions with Monty. It was really hard at times.
Also, I have a small but mighty support network. I have a terrific therapist and I had a great one in L.A. when we were still living there. I have friends I can lean on. And I’m old enough to understand that not every friend is adept at handling every issue. I know who I can go to for what kind of support. And my partner, Ryan, is a constant source of strength and support.
Also, medication. And podcasts.
Athena: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your future self?
Daisy: Oh god. I think about this a lot.
In terms of being a parent: I ran across a couple recently who was bringing their brand new baby home from the hospital. I told them they were going to have so much fun and they looked surprised. Everyone else was telling them how hard it was going to be. And here, I should check my privilege, because I’m aware that Monty was an exceedingly easy baby compared to many. Before my postpartum depression kicked in, people kept telling me, “Don’t worry, it gets easier,” and I didn’t understand what they were talking about, because it was so easy. But, I think I would go back and tell myself that unless there’s a true medical problem, nothing is worth freaking out over. All that crap they tell you need, you don’t. Your baby needs food, comfort, and love. That’s it. And for Pete’s sake, if you’re breastfeeding, follow your instincts, get support if you need it, and supplement with formula if your supply is low. Your kid will not grow a second head. Looking back on the first year of Monty’s life, I think most of his problems came from being hungry because I wasn’t producing enough. Our lives would have been infinitely easier, and he would have been happier, if I had gotten off my high horse and fed him formula sooner.
I think the most universal thing I would tell myself is, don’t let other people dictate who you are. Be who you are unapologetically. I wish I had loved myself more. I wish I had liked myself more. I wish I could go back and whisper in my own ear, “You are so awesome!”
That said, I wouldn’t have gotten Monty if my life had been any different.
Athena: In 3 words, describe your family.
Daisy: Strong. Happy. Grateful.
Daisy Eagan became the youngest actress ever to win a Tony Award at the age of 11, for her work in The Secret Garden. Since then her career has spanned more than three decades, and has included work on and off Broadway, in TV, and film. Most recently she played Brigid Blake in the First National Tour of the Tony Award winning play, The Humans. She was featured on the final season of Girls playing Hannah's (Lena Dunham) doppelganger, and on Hulu's The Path. Daisy is a published, award-winning writer. www.daisyeagan.com