From my heart,
Every day after work Tim would come home exhausted. He would pick up extra hours just to put food on the table; his desk was piled high with unpaid bills and red bank statements. Often he would take his dinner and collapse in his easy chair in the den where he would then doze off, crumbs plastered to his shirt. Carrie was only 14 years old, but she had gotten used to her father’s distance. She would walk home every day from school, scrape together a dinner, and try to do some homework. Her father had no idea she was failing English, or that last month she was suspended for smoking on school property. Any notes the school needed from her father were forged, any phone calls erased, any meetings never attended...
Chris sat on the couch with his hands over his ears and his eyes squeezed tightly shut. Nothing he could do could block out the screaming. He had to look; he had to make sure he wasn’t noticed. He watched him hit his mother. Later they would all sit down to dinner together and pretend that nothing had happened. Just like every other time. Chris was so angry at his mother. Why would she let this happen unless she deserved it? She always said she deserved it. Maybe his father was right...maybe women were nothing but trouble...
Do either of these stories sound like a good father to you?
Let’s try another one.
She was so nervous. It was her school’s first talent show and she had decided to sing a harmony with her friend, Jessie. She peeked through the curtains and saw him sitting there saving three seats. He saw her and waved back.
“Mom will be a little late,” he had said to her and Jessie before they went backstage, “she got held up at the dentist’s office with your sister but I know you and Jessie will do great! I brought the video recorder, so even if she misses the whole thing we’ll watch it over dinner tonight.”
“Okay, thanks Pete! Pizza for dinner right?” she asked.
“Of course! I’ve ordered your favourite and we picked up some popcorn for your sleepover tonight. See you girls after the show, break a leg!” He had returned to the gym to save seats for her Mom and sister when Jessie looked at her funny.
“You call him by his first name?!” she asked, obviously shocked.
“Well, I think it would sound funny to say ‘Thanks Stepdad’ all the time.”
OBVIOUSLY these three small snippets of writing cannot cover every type of father out there, or even come close, but the point that I’m trying to make lies in the last one.
In the past I have illustrated my kids’ family tree and I have shown how they each have different dads, and you may have noticed that neither one of them is Boyfriend.
This is what I see when I look at my family tree.
You may notice that there are just the four of us.
Boyfriend is my heart and soul and he does everything for my girls.
Boyfriend handles poopy diapers, reads stories, plays horsey/pillow fight/tickle/sing and dance/tea party. He pushes the stroller, carries the car seat, rents kid’s movies, and watches the girls while I do my school work. He says darn instead of damn, oh-my-goodness instead of holy crap, and has censored every other aspect of his speech and behaviour.
Did he have unprotected sex? Did he have birth control fail? Did he have a relationship that fell apart after there were children involved?
He chose to become a father of two.
When Boyfriend and I started dating, we had a serious discussion about what a relationship between the two of us would entail, and I made it quite clear that I was not interested in the short term, or in being with someone who didn’t love children as much as I do because I had one daughter and I was pregnant with the next.
And he stayed.
He chose to become a father of two. He chose to become the “other man” in my exes’ eyes. Knowing that at least one of my girls will call him by his first name instead of Daddy, he chose to be a father to her anyways.
And what does he get for all of this? What lovely prize awaits him?
“They’re not your kids.”
For choosing to become a father, instead of donating some sperm and having the title thrust upon him, he gets to be constantly reminded for the rest of time that these two little girls are not his.
Here is what I have to say, and I hope that this makes a difference to somebody out there.
They ARE his children.
Maybe their genetic code is not part his, but their personalities are.
Their morals will be.
Boyfriend has put in more hours of fatherhood than most biological dads ever will.
Please, if there is anyone in your life who has taken on a parent-role to children that are not biologically theirs, be considerate.
Boyfriend is the best man I have ever met in my life, and it hurts me every time someone says that they are not his.
As I know it hurts him.
If you know a story about someone who is in a similar situation and is doing a fantastic job, please let me know! I would love to do more posts about #1 Dads.