March 9, 2008

Step Father, Who me ?

Becoming a father for the first time is a half scary, half exciting prospect. I experienced the birth of my first daughter, Kyrie Rayne Smith, May 22, 2007. But I was a step-father for quite a while before that. I have 3 daughters at the moment, a son is being added to that soon, and two of them are my “step” children. Now I guess most people when put in a situation with step children have a hard time connecting with the children at first. But from the very beginning I’ve felt like their father because I never let myself think about being a step father. I “had” my first step child a little over 2 and half years ago when I met my wife for the first time at a local restaurant. Her daughter Aleksa actually ended up being the one to introduce us. She and I kept making faces at each other and she ended up inviting me over to her table to meet her mom. From that moment on every time I saw Aleksa we were running around together, I was carrying her sleeping back to her moms car and I never for once thought “this isn’t my daughter, I shouldn’t be doing this”. I remember thinking the first time I carried her out to the car that I would protect this child with my life. It was a few months later, after her mom Bree and I started dating, that I met her other child Taylor. I talked to her on the phone a couple times but was nervous talking to this child I’d never seen. Apprehensively I drove down to Texas to bring her back from her birth fathers residence. Once again, right off the line I felt completely comfortable with her and had the same thought of protecting her with my life. Maybe it was because it was all so abrupt, so I didn’t have time to really think about it. But I think it was something else completely. It was the fact that I never made that conscience choice to look at them any differently just because they had a “birth” father out there. I play with them, teach them, punish them, feed them and protect them the same way I would if I’d been there in the delivery room. And I think that’s the real key to being a successful step parent. Just relax, it’s a child. They aren’t going to bite, hard. You’ve just got to stop thinking to yourself “this isn’t my child”. Because guess what, if you’re going to really be in a relationship with someone that has children from a previous relationship, you’re going to have to be their father. You’re not going to get a free ticket to sit on your butt when they cry, or want to play, or need help with their homework. And if you do try to take that free ticket out; your relationship with their mother or father isn’t going to last too long. Why would that person want to be with someone that is going to ignore their children and/or not take any responsibility at 3pm on some silly weekday when that child pee’s their pants? What are you going to do, just stand there? Never think that just because you weren’t there from the beginning that you’re not the parent because although that child may not start out looking to you as a parent, there will come that day when they need you as a parent. As my wife always says, “Love is thicker than blood or water”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go make sure my kids are in bed, we have school drop off duty tomorrow and I want them to get plenty of sleep.