So, I recently became a father. Well, okay, technically I am about to become a step-father, but I don't like the term step-father. I like to live by this popular quote...
My daughter is two (going on 13) and we have been living together as a family for about six months now. She was barely two when I first met her, but it didn't take long before I got the coveted invite, in an adorable toddler voice to, "play with me in my room." This was sort of the first inroads. She is pretty friendly and outgoing to begin with, so we were still a ways away from any sort of real connection, but it was a start. It would be about four months later until the living together would come into play, but it's safe to say the little one at least liked me somewhat from the get-go.
As the living arrangement came into play, there were your basic ins, your basic outs and your basic what have yous. I mean, there is a reason they call it the "terrible twos", right? She would start to test me, somewhat in the same way she would test her mother. In that way, I was sort of in, being treated like a parent or at least a large human with whom she felt comfortable enough to test boundaries. Truth be told, though, there was still something missing. Still something that would often leave me saddened and discouraged at the end of the day. The full connection, that a dad might feel, was not quite there and as a "new" parent thrown into this family dynamic, it was easy to wonder if that connection would ever come.
Children, naturally, have a genuine, ready made bond or deep connection to their birth parents. As a "stepparent" there's a chance you may never get that feeling. Quite honestly, there are probably some "stepparents" who are pretty resigned to that fact and don't give a darn (pardon my French) or some that don't even think about that connection and don't even try. I am neither of those stepparents. So that's where the saddened, discouraged feelings would mainly come from. I mean, this is a child who I have sworn to love and protect for the rest of my life so, yeah, I was hoping she would hold me in somewhat parental esteem at some point, however unrealistic that might be. I mean, when I proposed it was a proposal to both mother and daughter. A proposal for both of them to spend their lives with me. My lady is no dummy, nor is she selfish. Her daughter, rightfully so, comes first, so she would not have said yes unless she thought I would be good for her daughter in the first place, but her daughter, being two also didn't really get a say, per se. In fact, the marriage concept has still not quite sunk in since the toddler's response to a mention of this life changing event has generally been, "I'm getting married too...to my granddaughter." Hilarious and adorable, right? My point thought, which might actually be hidden in this paragraph somewhere, is she has accepted me, but there was still a missing piece to the puzzle. Not too long ago, that piece showed up, in the form of nap time.
Yes, nap time. Simple as that. As her nap time approached one day, the little one, ever so sweetly, asked me"will you lay with me". Now, this may not seem like much more than a heart melting moment to most, but to me this was huge! This was her really accepting me into her and her mother's life. See, kids will play and talk with many different people that pass through, but laying with them, during nap time? That's not an invite toddlers will just bandy about. Oh no, that's about as big of a sign of trust that a two-year old can offer and it not only warmed my little heart, but it made me feel accepted and, for the first time, like a full fledged dad. There will be plenty more of these moments to come and I am looking forward to sharing some of them, as I learn the joys of fatherhood and family life.
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