ROBIN CHATS WITH LATER DAD SCOTT ELLIS
CURRENT RELATIONSHIP STATUS: partnered
BIO: Associate Artistic Director Roundabout Theatre Company; Director/Executive Producer of Showtime's cable television series Weeds; Five-time Tony-nominated theatre director
NAMES/AGES OF CHILDREN: 18 month twins, Charlotte and Parker
RESIDENCE - NYC
What made you want to be a dad? I don't think there was ever a time growing up when I didn't think about becoming a dad. I always liked kids....sort of a DNA thing. Of course, being gay, I thought this probably won't happen. I had started a domestic adoption process 10 years ago....open adoption....and stopped it when I met someone because kids were not on his radar. We broke up largely due to that. I didn't want to regret not becoming a father. Because some time had passed, I thought the process of surrogacy would be faster, so I contacted an agency. Plus, I had a little more control. I knew when the babies were coming and could work my schedule around that. I was able to stop work for several months. My priority was to have a healthy child. Having the children be part of me biologically was never a burning desire. I look at them and just think they're my kids.
Did it unfold as you hoped? No. I told the doctor I didn't want twins. He implanted two eggs in the surrogate anticipating only one would take. He guessed wrong. My concern was that my life was too full for two children. Coincidentally, I'm a twin and am close with my brother who is married and has a three year old and lives in London. Now, with my kids, I know things are as they were meant to be, even though two is a handful.
What do you see as the upsides and challenges of being a 50+ dad? I don't think of age at all. Luckily, I've kept in pretty good shape and take care of myself. I'm better prepared than I would have been 20 years ago. Life. Financially. No resentment when it comes to all that parenting requires. I am ready to share my life. I'm dad...age is a non-issue to me.
Any parenting words of wisdom you’d like to share? Two things I've learned very quickly....everyone parents the way they need to parent...there's no right or wrong. I used to be much more judgmental. No more. You do your thing....it works for you, and that's great. The other thing is really really try to take one day at a time. It gets overwhelming if you over think and look ahead.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has offered you re: parenting? Someone said that you’re gonna get a ton of advice from lots of people. Just listen, and pick what’s right for you. And, be okay with it. Don’t self judge. Go with your instincts. Trust your gut. This has proven true. It’s great to have someone to bat things around with, but I’m also not someone who calls the doctor constantly.
What do you most want to share with your children? We all go back to our own childhood when we become a parent...I came from a divorced home (I was 12 when my parents split) and want to raise my kids with a sense of stability and security, since I didn’t have that.
What has parenthood taught you thus far? No matter who I think my kids are or want them to be, they are who they are. They're both so different, and I can't change them...I can't direct them. I'm used to that, given my work. They're in the director seat. I'm learning to let go, have patience. Not try to push them...but to guide, provide a loving home and good education ......and establish rules, but also accept/embrace who they are and support their journey.
What excites you about being a dad? A lot! The constant discovery. The changes. You get to know their personalities every day. They’re starting to talk, and I’m always amazed re: where they get their language from. It’s fascinating.
Any particular experiences you can’t want to share with your children? Introducing them to theatre for sure. Taking them to a Yankee game would be a highlight. I didn’t travel that much growing up, but would love to share that with them when they’re older. I’m curious to see what they like to do as they grow and will build upon those interests.
How have you found juggling work with parenting? I have a live-in nanny. Once they go to school, we'll revisit the situation. I feel like I have to work so much more to take care of all this...but on the flip side, I don't want to be an absentee dad. I'm working to find that balance. Time management is critical as is having support. I'm surrounded by great friends, etc., and that makes a difference. My dad passed away, but my mom loves the twins!
What would you like to share with others contemplating later in life parenthood or becoming a parent period? If you're contemplating, go for it. I didn't want to have regret. But, you have to accept that there's no perfect time. There's never enough money. We're here one time, pretty quick, so why not do it?!
Note: Scott is one of the subjects of the film LOVE, ETC., which I highly recommend. He shares his heartfelt road to parenthood in this compelling new documentary.