Despite her occasional “you’re not my real dad” that gets thrown out in the heat of the moment, I am a dad now. And she loves me, even on the days she won’t admit it. Her “real dad” isn’t the one that’s there for her every day, which I would submit to you makes me her real dad.
A real dad is there for the kid, day in and day out. He’s consistent. He makes her a priority. He supports her with love, emotional support, gentle correction, fun, and finances. He loves her mom because she’s her mom, and always treats her mom with respect.
A real dad doesn’t go out and drink and carouse when he should be home playing dolls. He doesn’t shuffle her off in front of the TV so he won’t have to spend quality time with her. He doesn’t lose his cool when she acts her age.
I’ve never been a dad before, so I can’t say this with certainty, but my guess is that being a stepdad is a bigger uphill battle than being a biological dad who’s there from day one. As long as she’s a child, I’ll always be second fiddle to her “real (biological) father,” no matter what he does or what I do.
She has gotten more and more comfortable with me over the past couple of months. She tells people I’m her dad (when she thinks I’m not around to hear it). She comes up and sits on my lap regularly. She always wants me to play with her. But today for the first time, she spontaneously hugged me. Afterwards she acted like she was goofing off… but she was just embarrassed.
I’m far from being a great dad, but I do have the best of intentions. Yes, have been times I’ve been selfish. I’ve snapped at her a time or two. I’ve gotten frustrated with her. I’ve spent time doing other things when I should have been playing with her. But I also apologize when I mess up. She knows I’m not perfect and that’s OK with her. She accepts me as I am.
I hope to be a dad to more kids in the future. Only God knows what that will look like, but I’m excited. At the same time, I feel like the bond I have with this sweet little girl is and will always be uniquely strong.
A couple weeks ago I told Nicole she was the cake and Lu was the icing. That’s not really a good metaphor though, since I don’t like icing. Instead I now say that Nicole is the ice cream and Lu is the chocolate sauce.
She makes something stupendously good even better.