Family, Part II
Today (March 5) is my stepsons’ 15th birthday. I’m no longer married to their mother, and we live in different states, so my hold on our relationship is tenuous at best. It’s still better than what I have with their two older sisters, which is nothing. I didn’t foresee the end of my marriage being the end of my family. We both made bad choices. I didn’t know those choices would affect them so much. Naively, I saw the relationship between my ex-wife and I, and its demise, as only between the two of us. Though it was never meant to be a battle for love or loyalty, she’s Mom to them, and so I was destined to lose.
We were together for almost a decade, and married for over 8½ years. Her four kids were, respectively, 3, 4, and 9 when I came into their lives. The oldest I adopted. Her younger siblings had their father nearby, but I was at home with them and grew into being a father to them. Eventually they called me “Dad,” but now I’m back to “Jason.” I don’t regret leaving a failed marriage. I was blessed to watch four great kids grow up and have such an important role in their lives while I did. What ended needed to end. What won’t end is loving them. I haven’t done my best to stay close to the boys, and the girls would prefer not to acknowledge my existence, but I love them all. I would do anything in my power to help any one of them at a moment’s notice. Even if one day I have a biological child, or adopt one, they’re still my kids too.
I can only hope that time does heal all wounds. In many ways I feel like ten years of my life were all but blinked out of existence, as if they never happened. An “instant family” may not have been something I was ready for, but I tried. I smile at memories and learn the lessons of experience.
It’s been my lifelong dream to have a child who only knows me as Dad. I’m nearing 40 and I don’t know if I will meet someone with whom I can share this amazing journey. What I do know is I have the love in my heart to give to both a partner and a child. Trust me, if I didn’t like kids, I wouldn’t have endured six years of middle school. Even in the role of a teacher, there is no underestimating the impact you can have when you touch the life of a child. Part of the void is filled by the presence of my “best framily,” the subject of Part III. Stay tuned :)