Andy Cohen says being the only single and gay parent at his son's school can feel 'surprisingly lonely'
Andy Cohen is loving life as a father of two, with daughter Lucy joining 4-year-old son Ben last April. But in a new interview with the New Yorker, the Watch What Happens Live host admits that being both the only gay dad and single parent at his son's school can feel isolating.
"So far, in the two schools that Ben has been in, I’ve been the only single parent and I’m the only gay parent," Cohen, 54, tells the magazine. "That has been surprisingly lonely for me."
His friendship with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who co-parents his two sons with ex-partner Benjamin Maisani, has been a lifeline, the Bravo star says.
"Ben sees that Wyatt [Cooper's older son] has two gay dads, and there are two gay dads down the hall from us," Cohen notes. "I’m trying to do room duty at the nursery school as much as possible, and it’s in my mind a lot. And they’re studying families at school. It’s a really interesting road that you don’t know until you’re living it."
Despite his hectic schedule as a TV and radio host and executive producer behind the Real Housewives franchise, Cohen says he manages without live-in childcare.
"I don’t want someone to live in my house," he explains. "When I get in my bed at night, I want to be in my place alone with the kids."
But Cohen did have a baby nurse stay at the home after each of his children's births. He credits the sleep training his kids got during that time with having a "huge impact" on his ability to fly solo overnight as a single dad — most of the time, anyway.
"But, when the baby nurse left, Lucy then started teething," he adds. "So now I have the monitor on and I’m, like, Googling at 3 in the morning “How long do I leave the baby crying?” So there was a really rough period."
Cohen also reflects on being an older dad in the interview, sharing that he decided to welcome another baby via gestational surrogate last year to give his son Ben a sibling and support.
"I did it for Ben, because I’m an older dad, and I’m a single dad, and I want him to feel like he has a family," he says. "And if something, God forbid, ever happened to me I don’t want to abandon him. So he and his sister will always have each other. And, by the way, of course I’m so glad I did it, and it’s wonderful, and she’s so cute. And I’m so glad I have a girl now — it’s gonna be so different and a whole new thing, and she doesn’t miss anything going on in the world, and Ben loves her so much."
Becoming a dad in his 50s also changed his perspective about having a busy social life. Once susceptible to FOMO (fear of missing out), Cohen — who is writing a new book, out in May, about his experience as a dad — has learned to let go of the need to attend every big party.
"It’s a shift, and I think that’s been the gift of having kids late in life," he says. "When I had my kids, I was financially in a place where I felt comfortable, but I also got to experience being famous for 10 years without having kids. I used to be the guy that had FOMO about missing parties. I wanted to go to the Vanity Fair party every year, and I loved it. It was so exciting. I would fly out for Oscar weekend to go to parties, and you never knew who you were going to meet. And I’m chill now with all of that.
"There’s a scene in my new book where it’s Lucy’s first night home, and there were two really fun parties that night that I was invited to, one of which was going to have a ton of super-cute guys, and you know I like a party with super-cute guys," he adds. "But I felt so grounded and whole with myself being at home. I was, like, Wow, this is a family. I have a family, and they’re both here — there’s two little kids here sleeping. And it just felt like I was floating on air, you know? And suffice to say, five years before, I may not have been in that place."
That's not to say that it's always easy. As he documented in some relatable videos over the summer, Cohen's dealt with some rough toddler tantrums, something that can break a lot of parents.
"In August, I felt totally shackled," he says. "And I was, like, Wait a minute. I used to be a different person, and f** my life, and my 3-year-old is having tantrums every second and, like, pooping next to the pool, and what is going on?"
According to Cohen, he's overcome most insecurities he might have about his career. When it comes to parenting, however, his confidence can take a hit.
"Now I have self-doubt about being a dad," he admits. "If I’m on the playground and I didn’t know that the sprinklers would be on and I didn’t know to bring a change of clothes, I’m, like, How did all these moms know to bring a change of clothes? And I’ll have a crisis of conscience and be, like, I’m a terrible dad. It’s the first year where I’ve been, like, Am I good enough?"
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