The deeper I dive into parenting, the more appreciative I’ve become of the back flips and underwater feats my own parents surely made for me—not just in my formative years, but still today. Of particular notice is my stepfather.
It’s one thing to care for a being from your own loins, an entirely other to accept and love someone who didn’t. Even so, I spent so much of my childhood hoping for a different scenario, wishing for a bygone union. When my biological parents divorced, my brother was four and I was toddling around as a two-year-old. By the time I got to grade school, I began to notice I was different. Divorce rate statistics were, of course, of little importance to me then, but I vividly recall the vast majority of my classmates living in homes with both their birth parents—and I desperately wanted to experience the same type situation. I’ve always lived a solidly middle class life. My parents bought nice clothes, new cars and a brick home in a pleasant neighborhood. We always had enough to eat, said grace over it and even took an occasional vacation. Unfortunately, my mind fixated too often on the divorce and the stepdad—on how “I” was different.
Today, some decades later, with children of my own, a lot more wisdom and the developmental and emotional capacity to see past “me,” I finally realize what an extraordinary blessing God rested in my life. When God gave me my stepfather, God gave me the gift of someone choosing me. God knew I’d need a father figure to call me his favorite and beautiful daughter, write me heartfelt letters, give me mushy birthday cards and shower me with Valentine’s gifts; to attend my school ceremonies; to walk me on the football field, when I needed a “father” escort for Homecoming Court; to feel proud of me when I graduated at the top of my class; to show me how to fix a flat tire; to demand that the boyfriend honking his horn for me to go on a date: a) leave his car, b) come into the house, and c) make a proper introduction, before driving me anywhere. Certainly, God knew I’d need a male parent to care about me staying out past curfew and to be waiting up for me with a look and a lecture (and I was out of high school, y’all!); to visit me in college (unannounced, at times) and put money in my account when I had blown it all on those tasty Double Dave’s pizza rolls; to regrettably, yet thankfully, be the only man around when I gave birth to my first son; to walk me down the aisle when I married my one-true-only.
Even as a mature adult, God knew it’d be helpful for me to have someone drive 700 miles on a spur to help my husband and I address a crisis with our oldest son; to call me ‘just because’ so we can discuss politics, religion, crazy relatives and all kinds of other stuff; to poke around my home when he visits, pointing out things we ‘really need to fix.’
Yeah, I get it now. God knew I’d need someone to love me beyond my little girl ignorance and fill a void as only a real daddy can. With this, I need my dad to know that—not only during this season of thanks, but always—I love you. Thanks for choosing me and demonstrating that sometimes we do get to pick our children—and parents, too.