Gaining a stepfather is a tenuous thing. There’s this doubt because you know how easy it was for your parent to leave you. You often wonder how much easier it might be for this new person to do the same. Will they see you as a temporary child? Or as just a burden that must be shouldered? These worries and thoughts and the good thoughts that came from my actual experiences with my stepfather molded how I saw and interacted with him and with the rest of my world.
Will they see you as a temporary child? Or as just a burden that must be shouldered?
My stepfather has been everything that a father is supposed to be in my life. There’s this awe that I felt, as a child living with a parent who is not “my own” that is hard to describe. Here’s this person, and in my case, this wonderful man, who has decided that I am worthy of his love, time, and attention. I am worth it. When you have gone through your childhood not receiving the love and self-worth expected from a parent, having someone willingly step up to fill that role is incredible. It is a feeling beyond words. But when I was five and my mother, brother, and I moved into a tiny townhouse with the man she would soon marry, the family that is my core began to form.
I spent a good chunk of my life torn between loving this man who chose me and loving the one who would only choose me when it was convenient to him. I desperately wanted my father’s love and approval. I felt that by acknowledging and expressing my overwhelming love that I had for this other man, my stepdad, that I was in some way betraying my biological father. I know today that I love them both. I love them both as fathers though differently and through a different lens for each. The love for one doesn’t always mean that the love for the other is less.
Never in 25 years, have I heard my stepfather refer to my brother and me as his stepchildren or his wife’s children from her first marriage.
As I was growing up, I knew the type of father I wanted for my children. I wanted someone like my stepfather. I wanted a father who loves them, just for who they are. Someone who always chooses them- always and continually. I wanted a father who would want our children and be present in their lives. One who is fun and wants to play with them, but also knows how to be the calm in the storm. A dad who can joke and laugh, but can also sit down and talk to our children when they feel like they are falling apart. I wanted them to have a father who remembers birthdays and wants them to be special. I wanted my children to have a dad who is for them what my stepfather was for me. So when 14 years ago I chose John, I had all of this in mind because of what my stepfather taught me about fathers.
Never in 25 years, have I heard my stepfather refer to my brother and me as his stepchildren or his wife’s children from her first marriage. We have always just been his kids. It might seem like a little thing to some, but as a stepchild it was everything to me. I am his daughter. He is my father. We might not share DNA but we share love and a bond that has made me into the person, woman, and mother I am today. I will never have the words necessary to express how thankful I am that he was put into my life. That he chose to be a part of our lives. Or how much his love has meant to me.
Happy Father’s day Eric. I love you.