Mijn prachtige familie

18 04 2016

Today marks my parent’s 24th wedding anniversary.  I was 12 years old when my mother (and now) father got married.  It was a challenging time for me back then.  We were the Brady bunch of sorts.  My mother had two children (myself, age 12 and my sister, age 9) and my father had two children (my brother age 10 and my sister age 8).

Merging two families with young, near teen children is not easy.  One of the biggest challenges for me is not differentiating my brother and sister from my first sister.  When our families first came together, using the word ‘step’ to differentiate them from my Mother and Sister felt weird to me.  It was easy for me to just call and refer to my brother and sister as such.  But I couldn’t get past calling him anything other than Pete.  He wasn’t my dad (not meant in a mean way), but it felt disrespectful to call him step-dad.  There is a stigma that goes with the ‘step’ word; wicked step-parent.  He wasn’t wicked at all.

It was a struggling time for me; still dealing with issues from my mother’s divorce.  Not wanting to believe the reality of what was happening between me and the man I used to call my dad.  (This is a story for another time).  So here’s this new guy, trying his best to fit into the father role that I desperately needed.  At the time, it didn’t matter to me if he was there or not.  He was just some guy; who gave me a house to live in, clothes on my back, and food in my stomach.  A lot of food.  (Hey, I was a growing boy).  I’m sure at the time, I wasn’t very appreciative of all that he did for me.

I wasn’t perfect, by any means.  I’m sure it was difficult for him, trying to step into the parent role to a child that wasn’t his from birth.  I like to think my behavior was generally good, but I’m sure (okay, I know…in some cases) that I caused far more grief and pain than he or my mother would have liked to endure.

There is one thing, that for some reason sticks out to me after all these years.  I recall with great clarity, saying the phrase ‘my real dad’ to him.  At the time, I never gave any thought as to what I was saying.  There wasn’t any hidden meaning behind the phrase, it was just something that I said to differentiate them and I didn’t know how else to say it.  But now when I think about it…what an awful thing to say.  It was definitely not meant to be hurtful in any way, but it’s a memory that I am ashamed to have.

But he was always there, pointing me in the right direction.  Thinking back, I don’t recall them ever really telling me ‘You need to do this thing, this way’.  It was more of them telling me, here’s what could happen if you do this thing this way.  It’s up to you to decide to go that way.  More often than not, I went that way.  I look at my life now; where I’m at, what I’m doing.  I attribute a lot of where I am today because of their guidance.

It took a while, but eventually I started to refer to him as my dad and father. It’s still a bit strange to call him Dad in person, but maybe that’s just because I’ve never asked him if he cares.  Maybe I’ll do that.  I don’t know why now, 24 years later, I feel I can/should write about this.  Perhaps it’s because I have this blog established as somewhere to write my thoughts.

I don’t know why this turned into just a post about my Dad.  It was intended to be about both of my parents.  So to my mother, thank you for everything you have ever done for me.  Most, if not all of my childhood memories include you.

So as they both sit down this morning drinking their coffee, enjoying their retirement, I wish you both a happy anniversary.  I couldn’t ask for better parents. I love you both, and can’t wait until you are back up here to see us.