Today is Fathers Day. As I was buying 6 Fathers Day cards I decided it was time for a little reflecting on what makes a dad?
Growing up, my view was very simple. A Dad was simply the person with whom you shared half your DNA. No grey, it just was. My frame of reference was pretty narrow as that was the experience I had, and most of my friends had.
Oh how that has changed…
This year we bought 6 Fathers Day cards.
We bought a Fathers Day card for my Dad (the one with half my DNA) who I love to pieces and mailed that off to Palmerston North with the obligatory Lotto ticket (good luck Dad).
We bought a Fathers Day card for James Step Dad. He’s been in James life since James was two and James still sees him all the time despite his parents separating over 20 years ago. We’ll give him the card when we go down to Turua for lunch with him today.
We’ve also got a Fathers Day card for James other Step Dad who has been with his Mum for the better part of of the last 20 years. We all call him Pa and it’s plain to see that all the kids, step kids and grandchildren adore him. For me being relatively new into the family he already feels like the closest thing I have ever felt to having a second Dad.
We didn’t buy a card for James Dad (the DNA kind) who sadly passed away almost 30 years ago but I know he will be in James thoughts all day.
We bought a card for my two girls Dad. Even though we are not together anymore he is a great Dad to them and they love him to bits.
And of course we bought a card for James. Two cards in fact. One from my girls, who changed the card to read step Dads and one from his daughter too.
I’ve always thought that labels were important for defining who you were – like a job title almost – but when I saw what the girls wrote inside their cards I realised it was so much more than that when it comes to children making sense of the world.
In their Dad’s card they wrote “you are the best Dad ever”. In their step Dad’s card they wrote “you are the best step-Dad ever”. And they meant every word of it in both cases.
Now that is a very young way of expressing it and at 40 they may not say it this way but giving their Dad’s seperate titles and roles allowed them to be able to love each of them fully without feeling disloyal to the other.
Growing up I imagined it would only ever be me and my kids Dad sharing parenting but now I find myself sitting there seeing a picture of them winning an award to James and the girls Dad. I watch with such joy as James relationship blossoms with my girls, while at the same time they still love their Dad every bit as much.
It took living on the blended side to show me that there is not a finite room of love in your heart that is restricted to loving only one set of parents.
To all the Dad’s out there, regardless of wether you share a DNA link, happy Fathers Day.