When I was eight years old, my friend and I made my step-dad a special Father’s Day gift.  It was a video tape of us lip-synching to our favorite 80s songs.  I remember how proud I felt handing him that black VHS tape with the bright yellow sticker on-top, with my handwritten sign of love: “Dad”.

In a truly beautiful twist of fate, I became a step-dad in my mid-30s too. My wife and I met each other after fleeing our previous marriages, mine much worse than hers.  

When we were first dating, I was worried that my life’s baggage would be too much for her. My wife was already dealing with the challenges of forging ahead as a single mother with a six-year-old daughter.

It turned out that the unique hardships we had faced and overcome was a point of strength in our newfound love.

I had so longed to become a parent for many years, but my toxic first marriage could not support that. I was now overcome with joy of becoming a dad, feeling blessed for this second chance on love and parenthood.

My love of children was rooted in my direct involvement of raising my younger brother. He was only 20 months old when our mom passed away. This new-found responsibility for myself and my older sister, became a true beacon of light and hope for better days to come.

In 2015, my wife I were married on Valentine’s Day surrounded by our closest family and friends. The only person standing with us, other than the officiant, was OUR daughter. OUR first born.  

It was the most amazing day in my life as I pledged my life-long promise to care for both of my angels unconditionally.  

I later proclaimed in my speech:

“You are simply the best step-daughter anyone could ask for.  You are beautiful, smart and funny and I couldn’t be prouder of you.  I love you like my own daughter.”

That June I received my first ever Father’s Day cards and gifts. We also started a new family tradition of going to play a round of mini golf together to celebrate. 

It was magical, and such an incredibly special day for me.

I recognized that she didn’t HAVE to make me a hand-crafted card or gift at school. She didn’t HAVE to care for me like she does.  Step-parent relationships are so precious and fragile that she didn’t even HAVE to like me!    

But every year she goes above and beyond to show her love and care for me as an important father figure in her life.

And for that I am forever grateful and honoured to be her Stepdad.

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Written by Joe Lyons-Rising

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