I love my Dad. Even when I can't agree with him, I can always see that his beliefs are firmly grounded in love and that as a Dad, he has and will always do what he thinks is best for me. He's the salt of the earth, man's man that I always look for when I try to see how a man measures up. Dad took me to the shooting range and fishing. He had me hand him tools when he worked on his cars, and I was able to walk around with "tool hands" They were dirty enough to show I did more than stand and watch. He taught me a few self defense moves before I took karate and taught me how to change a tire and check the fluids in my car. He taught me how to make southern fried chicken (which is too greasy for my tastes). He loves me enough to flip out when he will see my latest tattoo tomorrow afternoon. When my ex left and I was struggling for groceries and figuring out how to keep the house running, he stepped in and for a short while allowed me to fall apart and just be his little girl. It was a short while before I remembered my parents didn't raise me to sit by and be taken care of and I had to get it together.I can appreciate the Grandfather that my step-dad is. He became my step dad after I was 18. I never saw him as mine, but in the years since I stopped acting like the title gave me a right to step all over him, I have been blessed with the grandfather he has become to my sons. We recently had a heart to heart where he reminded me that I used to ask him, "are you dumb, stupid, or both?" He has earned my respect and I have softened into a deep respect and love for him.
My ex's Dad will always be mine. When I decided I wanted to keep my ex forever, I looked at his Dad and thought, yes, I could take care of this man when he starts to look like his Dad. He is sweet and endearing and puts love into his cooking and his time. He is likely to sacrifice his needs to make sure we're okay. When we came to him with the news of his first grandchild, he had me rest (and napping on his couch was super easy) and he whipped up beef stroganoff from scratch. He loved feeding me and he's always been generous.
My ex's step dad loves my children in such a way that they love and look forward to talking to him. He's an angler and a biker and a mechanic. He's another solid man that I appreciate having in my kid's lives.
I was a surrogate Mom. Three times. These three Dads were all men that loved their wives and loved children and made me feel honored to be trusted with such a precious gift.
Then there is the ex. I didn't want kids before I met him. There was something special about him that made the idea of kids not so terrible. We had our first and I was excited to give a second and third. Being a single parent has made him a better Dad than I thought possible.
Before I became a single parent, I thought single moms had to do it all as both mom and dad. I'm here now and it doesn't look like that. My boys have a Dad and I don't have to fill those shoes because he's got them filled. When I'm alone I'm not making up for a missing Dad. I'm stretching who I am as Mom. As long as I continue to do my best to be the Mom my kids deserve instead of the selfish person I want to be, we're going to be in good shape. I'm not being someone I'm not, but I'm stretching who I am. I'm not defined by gender roles. One day there will be another man in my life and he'll be part of my son's lives. He'll be a step dad and I will have to stretch again. I will have to be open to accepting help and sharing responsibilities. I have no problems giving this holiday to all of the Dads out there. Happy Father's Day.