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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.”

I feel blessed that I got not one, but two great dads in my lifetime. My step father Tim has been a blessing to me and my family.

I feel blessed that I got not one, but two great dads in my lifetime. My step father Tim has been a blessing to me and my family.

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.

My step dad Tim put aside his own rule of not holding newborns to be one of the first people to hold Sydney just minutes after she was born.

My step dad Tim put aside his own rule of not holding newborns to be one of the first people to hold Sydney just minutes after she was born.

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.

If you’re one of those women who have husbands who rub your pregnant belly and talk to your unborn child, and generally treat you like you’re in a “delicate state,” then consider yourself lucky.

Pregnant Doesn’t Mean Delicate (for me anyhow)

At seven months pregnant with my second child my husband had me help him move not one but two heavy mattresses down the stairs. He doesn’t rub my now very pregnant belly, BUT I know the look he’ll have on his face the second his child arrives. I know that he’ll listen to her breathing every night. In short, I know from experience that he’ll be just as great a dad to baby number three as my other two.

When it comes to parenthood, we’re all about Mom, right? Moms know best when it comes to their kids, right? They read the most articles on parenting, tend to spend the most time with their kids, and tend to take on the role of primary care giver. I’m not going to lie, I remember telling my husband:

“When it comes to our kids, you are the CFO, but I’m the CEO and you need to check with me.”

Not my finest snarky moment I’ll grant you that, but in my defense he had just taken the kids to the store to pick out a dessert five minutes before dinner time causing my son to tailspin into a full on meltdown. Despite the frustration that comes from our different parenting styles, I can safely say that “He’s No MOM” and here are the reasons why that is the BEST thing for our kids and why we should celebrate the fathers out there.

Hannah & Daddy

1. Dads Create A Balance  – Sometimes moms tend to freak out at every bump and scrape (sure I never do that LOL) and there needs to be a calm person even when the situation does warrant a trip to the Emergency Room. Both parents can’t freak out or else who would take charge of a situation and keep the kids calm? Sometimes it’s dad’s turn to freak, but that’s why it’s great to have a tag team partner in times of crisis.

2. Someone Has To Be Good Cop – In my house my kids know that I’m the one to lay down the law and daddy is the one to “get one over on.” But the truth is, if we examine our own lives, we really needed that as kids. Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken and occasionally dessert SHOULD come before dinner. Moms may keep us grounded, but dads inject some much needed magic into childhood. As long as he backs me up on the important things, I guess I can learn to appreciate my husband’s breaking of the “mom rules” once in awhile.

3. Someone Call For Security? – Ok so maybe it’s just in my household because my husband works in law enforcement and carries a gun, a taser and handcuffs, but my husband brings a sense of physical security that I just don’t. I think we all feel more secure when he’s home. Perhaps it’s the same in your household. I think just the nature of daddies being bigger and more imposing than mommies, makes kids feel a sense of security, like they are protected from the bad guys out there. I don’t know if the need to protect is something innate in men or learned, but my son is always telling me that he will protect me if a bear ever tries to attack me (guess the bear threat comes with the territory of living up here in the mountains).

When I think of physical comforting of our children, mommy’s hugs are for healing and daddy’s hugs are for reassurance that everything is right with their world.

The Dad Jungle Gym

Plus who else could be the human jungle gym that dads are. Sure they may have made my uterus a training camp for future Olympic gymnastics for 9 months, but I’m not the one my kids want to catch them as they do crazy stunts like jump down the stairs while running at full speed.

Snow tubing

4. They Bring A Different Skill Set – Men bring different interests and skills to the parenting table. I for one would rather die than watch sports with my kids and I’m not the one who will teach my kids how to fish or build things with their hands. Dads will bring not only a different perspective, but different skills than moms, even if those aren’t the typical sports and outdoor survival skills. We need to appreciate them for things they do well that we don’t because it makes our kids’ lives that much richer and well-rounded to be exposed to new things.

Fishing

Hannah Fishing

Are Stay-At-Home Dads The New Moms?

Men are becoming more and more responsible for childcare these days, but I’ve noticed a trend to idolize these men (especially Stay-At-Home Dads) for taking on a role that’s not typical for them – the “Mom role” if you will. We tend to look at these men like a new species in a zoo. We might think, “Wow he changes diapers, hosts play dates, AND volunteers on the PTA, how amazing!” Nobody ever says, “Oh she works full-time and still finds time to cook, clean and drive the kids to karate and ballet, how incredible!” Just because our roles may overlap sometimes doesn’t mean that we can or will tackle parenting the same way.

The truth is Dads will never be Moms and vice versa and that’s more than ok; that’s GREAT! We bring different and special gifts to our children’s lives that can’t be measured on the same scale.

So Happy Father’s day to all the great Dads out there! You really are just as important to your kids as Moms are so keep doing what you’re doing. Happy Father’s Day to my husband Willie! Enjoy the last one before we officially become outnumbered.

 

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