Last year, I wrote a post and I called William “ours”. I can’t remember what post it was, or what it was about anymore.
But some people, at the time, said it was out of order. That it wasn’t fair because my son is not Mark’s. And he has a dad of his own.
I think I made bad judgement at the time, in letting these people in my life, and sometimes, I admit, I have tried to avoid using words like “ours”, because I don’t like the confrontation that comes with being ‘different’ at all.
But actually, what I’ve realised, is that we’re not actually that different.
Stepparents are not reserved for fairy tales. They aren’t evil. And they certainly do love the children that they choose to love.
I have met three stepparents in my lifetime so far. At least, three that have stood out to me. And I think that they are all brilliant people.
The first was actually the man that helped to raise William’s dad. William’s granddad who lives in Lincoln. And while he’s no longer a part of my life, he is a part of my son’s. And I’ve always admired how it just didn’t make a difference to him. He loved his son, regardless of how he arrived in this world. And that was that.
The next two I met around the same time. One of which is obviously Mark. But the other is his sister. Who I think is absolutely amazing. She has helped to raise two amazing kids – the sort of kids I want my son to grow up to be like – and she’s just so inspiring to me.
And I think that, maybe, I owe her a thank you. Because there’s a man in my life who has literally walked into this role and he’s just so natural.
I remember, in the early days of us, we had discussions about the future because both of us knew that this wouldn’t be easy. I had to be firm and make sure that it was right for us and William. And Mark had to be happy too.
And he is.
And we are. Even more so than ever because we have him.
I think that stepparents don’t get enough thanks in this world. It’s one thing to have a child, biologically your own, and deal with the ups and downs or parenthood. But it’s an altogether different thing to deal with that when you really don’t have to stay, and when you are constantly reminded that the child you love, isn’t ‘yours’.
But Bill is ours. As much as he is his dad’s. Because the person he is growing up to be isn’t about genes. It’s about the people in his life, teaching him, supporting him, in person and financially, guiding him, being there for him, and loving him.
They aren’t out to steal children. Or damage relationships. If anything, they strengthen them.
And, honestly, I’ve had to think about this a lot recently. William’s dad has a partner. And, while I’ve not been able to meet her yet. And I feel jealous. And insecure. And my heart breaks at the thought of another woman giving the goodnight kiss I would usually give, I have to step back and think.
Because if there’s a person in your child’s life, willing to love them in the same way that you do, you have nothing to be but grateful.
I think it takes a special kind of person to that.
And when I see my son, look up at his stepdad with a mixture of awe, respect and that desperate sort of love that only a child can give, I feel so lucky.
Mark has such a good heart. He deserves to know that he’s brilliant.
And he, along with so many others, deserve a thank you.
They don’t just step-in. They step-up. And then some.