Stepfathers

Dad and BabyMayhem erupts in my home as my children, ranging in age from toddler to teen, race to greet their Pa at the end of the workday. The noise level increases tenfold as seven children clamor to receive attention at the same time. Wearily my husband scoops up our youngest and tousles the hairy heads of our other children. As he searches for a path to the living room, children jump around him like yap dogs as he makes his way.

My children love my husband. He attends all of their functions and provides an encouraging "be aggressive" shout when one child takes his turn at bat or does the slow-paced waltz at the father/daughter Girl Scout dance. Every evening at dinner he patiently and intently listens as each child recounts his or her entire day to him, then he responds with questions or supportive advice. During our short hours together in the evenings, he manages to help with homework, solve several crises and read a chapter from a book to all the children before bedtime.

I beam with pride and adoration as I watch the unselfish effort my husband puts into being a father to our mixture of "his, mine and ours." After all, he has no biological link to some of them. He's their stepfather. He doesn't have to be such an outstanding father. He chooses to be. These children will not carry on his family name, but his pride in their achievements equals my own. On Father's Day most of these children will disappear to their biological father's home for the day. My husband, who unselfishly and unconditionally loves all of these kids, has to give some of them up on one of the most important days of the year. For all of his devoted time, effort and love he will have to settle for a few homemade gifts the day before Father's Day. "That's okay," he told me once, "I'm the one that gets all the hugs and kisses at the door on other days. Those are the real Father’s Days."

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