I was reading about Parent’s Day that is coming up at the end of July (which I had never heard of before) and I was also reading other news/headlines. I saw the beginning of one headline that really made me think about parenting (ok, made me want to rant;), “Usher’s Former Stepson”. To me, there are no “former step kids”.
Parenting, everyone wants to make it clear that a parent isn’t just the person you are born to. And I completely agree with that. But then how can we as a society assume that role or place in someone’s life can ever be dissolved?
The first man I remember ever calling dad was a stepdad. They weren’t married very long at all but he was in my life for years after they got divorced. He gave me my first bike, my first jewelry box. He is the first man who made me feel special and like a princess. He even came to my kindergarten graduation when we lived 3 hours away from him. He sent me my first flowers and the only flowers I received until I started dating.
Those memories aren’t tainted by the fact that he was only in my life because he married my mom.
On the other side is just as true. After they had been divorced for a few (like 6 years) my mom and 1st step dad started having major issues. So much so my mom threw him out of my life. Their issues were personal and really not the thing here other than they had nothing to do with protecting me.
I was destroyed. Destroyed as someone abandoned by her father. I realized as an adult that he had no legal rights to see me. But that knowledge never helped the pain. Neither did my mother telling me how he was just in my life because her, not only originally but that he was trying to stay close to her and that is why he stayed in my life. That all may have been true but it didn’t matter. My daddy was gone. The princess didn’t have her king any more.
There is a happy-ish ending. My mom found him after I was grown and married. I was preggo with my oldest and we reconnected. I think he was shocked to realize that he was the majority of my daddy memories still. I adore him and his current wife. But just like a regular father/daughter relationship, nothing can make up for those years. We are both at a loss in the relationship in some ways. We love each other but have no idea how we fit in each other’s lives. So we tend to talk once a year. (I am not good at relationships anyway)
But, when it comes to my kids…. Now other than my father in law my kids have never had a hands on grandfather. So my 1st step dad is just one of their grandfathers too. For years they didn’t know that he wasn’t my birth father, wasn’t a secret just didn’t talk about it;). So my kids have another set of grand parents.
So why did I share my sad story? We are very clear that step parents are active, viable parents but we don’t talk about what happens when the marriages are over. A step parent can grow child just like a birth parent or an adopted parent. The trauma that is caused by them or around their circumstances can damage us just like a birth parent or adopted parent.
So remember once a Step Parent, always a Step Parent.