Being a Father Comes From the Heart
Father's Day always brings up a lot of emotions for me, some good and some not so good.
I truly believe that being a father is not because you created a baby but what comes after that. As a daughter of a stepfather I know this is the truth. My father left my mother, my sister and me when we were just a few months old because he was being unfaithful and had addictions. After this we lost all of the stabilisation in our lives (at least for a few years). My sister and I were abused by my mothers boyfriend and I ended up in hospital with a broken leg. My mother was scared that he was going to seriously hurt her or us if she left him as he kept a gun in the house. Thankfully I do not have much recollection as I was only two years old and I know that the trauma would have been worse if I did have memories. It still isn't easy to talk about but I promised myself I'd be honest once I started blogging. I do suffer from anxiety and have done so since the birth of my first child when I was sixteen and I definitely think it is related to the abuse. My dad moved on and had two daughters with another woman and I am so lucky to call them my sisters, not half-sister, whole sisters. We have a great relationship and they are beautiful aunts to my children. My dad and I occasionally see each other but our relationship isn't exactly where I'd like it to be. I don't blame him for that because I know first hand that parents can't always make it work but I wish we saw each other more often. I have seen him twice maybe three times this year (2017) and one of those was my twenty-first birthday. I feel disheartened at times because I do contact him but he never calls me back, I invite him for dinner but he hasn't shown up. A lot of the distance is because we have had our fair share of disagreements this year surrounding my wedding that was in January.
When my twin sister and I were about two and a half my mum met my 'step-dad' who has been in our lives ever since that moment. I regard him as my father because he was persistent in my life, he raised me and he was there for all of the important moments. When I was four and a half I needed to have major heart surgery for a 'hole' in my heart (or Atrial Septal Defect) my step-dad made the choice to come with me and my mother to Melbourne whilst I had this operation and sadly my father didn't. As a mother now I couldn't imagine being in another state while my child was undergoing major open heart surgery but I don't hold it against him. I was young and he had three other children to take care of. My step-dad and mother were there and that's all that matters to me now. But it is moments like these that I feel grateful for my step-dad for stepping up and being there when I needed it most.
When trying to decide what to do about who would walk me down the aisle for my wedding I felt so conflicted. I knew my dad would take it personally if I didn't ask him and I wanted more than anything to have my step-dad by my side too. When I finally got the courage to ask my dad a few months before the wedding if it would be okay for both of them to walk me down the aisle, he flat out refused and I burst into tears on the phone. He felt that as a father it was his right to do that and no other man had the right to do it. I wished my pop or grandfather were still alive at that moment so I could have just asked one of them. I even considered asking my fourteen-year-old brother but he was playing his guitar when I was walking down the aisle so it wouldn't have worked. I considered asking my mum but I wanted both of my dads to have the honour. Once I started crying on the phone my dad took back what he had said and said it was my day in the end and ultimately my decision. After other family members chimed in and said how disgusting it was I felt miserable but I knew that was how I wanted it. The day turned out perfect apart from the 100kph wind gusts which magically stopped when I walked down the aisle but I did feel a little awkward knowing how my dad really felt.
Now as a mother to two beautiful children, one who is biologically my husband's child and one from a previous relationship I have seen 'step-parenting' from another angle. As a wife, I could not be more proud of how my husband naturally took to the father figure role in my then two and a half-year-olds life. I didn't let Ruby meet him for a little while until things started to get serious and they did pretty quickly (pregnancy whoops haha - but I wouldn't have had it any other way). I hope that Ruby and Shane's relationship continues to grow and that she one day makes the same choice when she walks down the aisle but if not that's okay too. Ruby has been lucky enough from the day after she was born to have her dad by her side to love her and hold her hand.
While co-parenting, 'step-parenting' and just parenting, in general, may be hard at times Ruby is so lucky to have two dads (step or not) that love her unconditionally. No matter what title Shane has it is not the biological factors that count, being a father comes from the heart.