We were driving, on our way to our first date together. We being me and my 2-year-old son. We had been just us for a while now and this was the first time I was taking him on a first date. A first date with someone I had never met and while I wasn’t sure what to expect it felt right doing these firsts with him. It was the 24th of July, at 9 AM and we pulled up to the restaurant for breakfast. The breakfast was chaotic. My son was doing all of the normal 2-year-old things, trying to eat the packets of grape jelly instead of his smiley face pancake. He was crawling around under the table more than sitting on his seat and he didn’t finish any of the food that my date paid for. A trip to the park afterward would involve a lot of bossing around. Push me on the swing, go down the slide with me, chase me around this tree and a tantrum would follow any time that we said no. My son had been horrible and I knew that my date would probably never call me again. I just had to remind myself that kids were kids, they weren’t easy and that if someone didn’t want to become an instant parent, it wasn’t rude. Being a parent is a hard job and I couldn’t blame someone for not wanting to be introduced to the crazy mess that was today. However, he called the next day and the rest is history.
As we walked out of the doors after being sealed, our son ran to us and said “we’re married! we’re married!” That’s where it all began. The journey of having a mixed family.
My son fell in love with him. They listened to music and made music videos together.
I came home from work one day and could hear the music blaring from my apartment, from the bottom of the stairs. I walked in to find them having “a muscle man dance party.” They’ve been flexing together ever since.
He made our son laugh like no one else could.
Their relationship was fun but there was so much more to it than happiness. It was complicated and it was often hurtful. See, our son had been through so much already and was always trying to process so many feelings. Certainly, he was hurting but in a very unintentional way, he would make my husband feel unimportant, unloved and unappreciated. You have to understand that it was no one’s fault, unfortunately, it was just circumstance.
I’ve watched as my husband tried to cuddle our son during a movie while he kicked and fought to get away, only to sit further down on the couch alone or crawl on my lap, but he loved him anyway. I’ve been sitting in the car when our son said: “You’re not my dad” on more than one occasion, but he loved him anyway. I’ve heard him screaming for mom when my husband went in to sing him a bedtime song or read him a book, I could see the hurt in my spouse’s eyes, but he loved him anyway. I’ve watched the look on my husbands face when our son walked out the door to spend Father’s Day with his birth father. It hurt him, but he loved him anyway. Every time he says “I’ll just ask my dad” when my husband says no, it’s almost like he’s screaming it through a megaphone. My stomach sinks every time as I watch my husbands reaction, but he loves him anyway.
Every time our big guy has walked in the door after his week at his birth dads house and hugged everyone else just to walk by my husband, he’s loved anyway.
Being a stepfather came with all of the responsibility yet none of the rewards. It didn’t come with hugs and kisses. He didn’t get any of the requests to cuddle. It came with the extra bills and financial responsibilities, it didn’t come with the same “I love you’s” that our son gave me, but he loved him anyway. It takes a special kind of person to love someone who doesn’t always reciprocate that same love.
I remember as things started getting more serious when we were dating I started to get worried about having other children. Would they all be treated the same? Would he be able to love them the same? Then I got pregnant with our first child together, it was a boy and it turns out the two of them couldn’t have been a more excited team.
Over the years we’ve had quite a few people come to us and say, “I’m dating someone, they already have a child. I don’t know if I want that…what do I do? Would you do it again?” Our advice? It’s really hard but try it. Because for us, it was and will always have been worth it.
My husband has proven that it’s possible to love a child that isn’t biologically yours as if they were. He’s shown that love isn’t meant to be limited. We take wins in the small things. The rare times that our son calls him dad instead of his first name because that means that he sees him as a father. Just the way that they look at each other every once in a while makes me teary-eyed because I see the love. Sometimes things get a little rough between the two of them, especially as our son gets older, but his daddy loves him anyway.
At the end of the day, I married our son’s superhero and even if he doesn’t see it now, someday he will.