There are plenty of fantastic dads out there. My husband is one. My father George was another. I’ve known dads who’ve have fatherhood thrust upon them at a young age and yet have handled it with grace and maturity beyond their years, but this Father’s Day I want to say a big THANK YOU to all the dads that didn’t have to be. I’m talking about parenting a child that isn’t biologically yours. I’m talking about loving a child who has or who one day will look you in the face and yell, “you’re not my real dad.”
Being Dad Without Being Called Dad
This post is dedicated to the dads that choose not just to parent someone else’s child, but chose to love them as their own. I want to dedicate this post to my step father Tim because he deserves recognition this Father’s Day for being the unsung hero of fatherhood. While my dad died while he was young and still on the parenting pedestal, my step dad was fighting in the trenches, wiping tears, listening to tantrums, figuring out how to teach me math in a format different from what he learned, driving me to and from my first job, and in general doing the heavy lifting of parenting for most of my life.
My step father never tried to replace my dad. He never insist I call him dad or said one disparaging thing about my dad. He respected my dad and vice versa. My step dad had to deal with a very bratty teenage me. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but I never questioned whether he would be there for me if I needed him. He was there for every milestone.
No Such Thing As Not A “Real Dad”
One day when I was in high school he said he would be honored to walk me down the aisle some day. He did indeed walk me down the aisle, telling me corny jokes the entire way. He was there at the birth of my children along with my mother and even after my mother was gone he sat in the hospital with me while I labored with Sydney. In matters of life and death there is no such thing as half a dad or not a real dad or just a step dad. There is simply being a dad.
He was there for so many milestones my own father didn’t live to see. While that ache will never go away, that longing for him to see those moments, I know I wasn’t without a dad to see me through them. I have a father that loved me enough not to need the title of dad to define our relationship. Whenever I talked about my mom and step dad to other people, I always referred to them as my parents. I never felt that it was disrespectful to my father. I know my dad would have been happy to know there was another man who loved his little girl just like his own. Because that’s all a father wants – to see his kids happy and cared for and loved without strings attached.
No Matter How Grown You Are You Still Want A Dad
So while Father’s Day is always a bit painful for me, especially coming on the heels of my birthday and I’m reminded of yet two more occasions passing without my dad, I’m so grateful to have my step father. I’m so grateful to him that I still have someone to parent me as weird as that sounds being a grown woman. Sometimes, like my husband reminded me just last night, it feels good just to be someone’s child for a change. We get so caught up in being parents ourselves that we forget what it’s like to have someone take care of us that way. My step dad faithfully calls me several times a week just to “check in” with me.
Happy Father’s Day to all the men for whom fatherhood came without the passing of genetic traits or DNA, but instead came from a simple and loving choice to say, “you are mine, not by blood, but by heart.” This is for the step dads who took vows to not just love the woman they married, but the children that came with her. Thanks for choosing to love kids without competing with their dads. Thanks for just being there for your kids. Even if they didn’t come from you, there is no one on Earth that could convince you they aren’t yours.