A Dad He Doesn’t Have To Be

I’ve been blessed in my life to have many father figures.

I have my dad, who didn’t get to see me from age two to age fifteen, but who never stopped loving me. We have a good relationship now, even if we don’t always get to see each other. He still calls me on every birthday, every holiday, to tell me he loves and misses me.

I have my mother’s first husband, who raised me until I was a teenager. While he may have provided for me financially, I never really felt like I belonged with him. I tried (and failed ) for years to gain his approval. He ultimately proved to care about others more than his daughters, and I’ve since cut my ties with him. Sometimes you have to say goodbye to people who continue to hurt you, even if they are family.

I have my mother’s current husband. He’s a stubborn man who can be a pain in the ass with little effort, but he loves my mother, despite all her faults. He and I butted heads a lot in my teens and twenties. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize he did it all for love. He raised my younger sisters and became their main role model, the man that they compare all their suitors against. He is the man I know my son aims to be.

And I have my soon to be father-in-law. While we definitely butt heads, I know he cares about me in his own way. He’s raised the man I am going to marry, and for that alone, I’m forever indebted to him.

This year, on Father’s Day, I’ll be celebrating another father figure- my fiance.

When a lot of guys would have turned away, he’s always stepped up. He’s taken my son in and loves him as his own. He helps me support my son, even when money is tight for us, he always manages to find money to make sure the kiddo has everything he needs. And for what? He’s not the one who gets a Father’s Day card in the mail. He’s not the one who gets to celebrate the victories with my son. Joe has a dad, and his dad gets all those accolades.

Don’t get me wrong, Joe is polite and loving, he always thanks my fiance for everything. But there’s a certain emptiness to being a step-parent. While you may be the one supporting and loving that kiddo, there will always be the “real” parent who gets all the praise. Or most of it.

So this year, this is my way of saying thanks and celebrating a man who is a dad, even when he didn’t have to be. He’s a dad who doesn’t get all the credit, who doesn’t get all the time. He’s a dad who buys school clothes for his son, even though he’ll never get to see school photos. He’s a dad who makes sure his son has money for a summer camp, even if though that summer camp cuts into our summer visitation time. He’s a dad who always puts his son first, no matter what.

Thank you, my love, for being the kind of father that may not get the credit now, but whom Joe will remember always. Thank you for taking him in and loving him, even though no one asked you to. Thank you for providing for him, caring about him, worrying about him. Thank you for being a dad, in every sense of the word.

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