To my son’s step-dad on Father’s Day


Today is your first “official” Father’s Day. The first day we can celebrate you as a step-father to Holden since we’ve been married shortly less than one year ago. A special day indeed as we are spending it together, and I will love and cherish the moments. Usually we don’t have this. For some reason there was a level of understanding this weekend, further healing.

No one asked you to be here, but here you are.

You’re here, and it’s also much more than that.

You’re his heart, his guide, his protection, his stability, his home. His Kick.

No doubt, something special exists between the two of you. He shows his love for you in all the ways he knows how, for a wild-haired and bright-eyed four-and-half year-old. You’re the one that gets the most affection- the most spontaneous touches, the hugs, the snuggles. He gravitates towards you. He needs to be around you. Hugging your leg. Sitting on your lap. Laying his head on your shoulder.

In a candy store, he picks up a box of Good & Plenty’s. “Can we get these for Kick?” he asks knowing you like them. You’re on his mind.

His eyes watch you, follow you. Waiting for the moment your eyes match his. He smiles knowing you see him. Hoping you’re proud of him. Then quickly glimpses at me to make sure I saw the connection. He focuses on you. Mainly. Always you.

You stand tall and firm. He dances and bobbles around you. Lives in his childhood wonderment and returns to you.

You let him in just enough, and he lets you in fully. You’re teaching him a steady balance of vulnerability and boundaries.

And for right now, You’re the only one whose disappointment or discipline upsets him. He takes it, learns from it. All it takes is a few stern words. It’s as if there’s some magic or power behind that deep voice that speaks his language.

He wants to do what Kick does. Shoot a bow-and-arrow, go fishing. Often times when we’re not with you, he doesn’t hesitate to remind me, “That’s what Kick does!”

“Hey, Kick!” resounds off the walls in our home.

It replaces “Hey, Dad!”

I often wonder what it’s like to be in your shoes. Not being given the title “Dad” for the presence, the love. Not getting to be totally acknowledged by the word. Because that’s exactly what it is, a privilege, a recognition for all that you do for him, for us. I feel that way about being called “Mom” at least. Every time I hear that little voice say it, I think about the preciousness. I would imagine some pain exists below the surface not hearing that little voice say it, though we all know the magnitude of your involvement in his life. “Hey, Kick!” does resonate own sweetness.

I think back to the time Holden was a few months old… a year old… a year and a half. The word “Dad” couldn’t leave my mouth alone, without tears… without anguish. My voice quivered.

Time heals. Much later than that we began to read books at bedtime on Dad’s and Step-Dad’s. I was strong enough then to say the word “Dad” aloud, around the time Holden was able to speak. Partly because I knew I needed to do it for him, but because you instilled within me some kind of strength also. A team effort.

One day Holden will decide what he wants to call you. When he has developed enough to fully understand. To make decisions. To use what you’ve given to him. To hear the word “divorce” and make sense of the world. Of his life. Of his relationship with you.

For now, he loves his Kick. In this moment. All day today. And that’s what he knows.


2 thoughts on “To my son’s step-dad on Father’s Day

  1. What a mom you are to recognize the love and respect a four old has in his heart. Beautifully said, honey. A special love has taken root in your home. God has blessed you and Holden and our entire family. Happy days! Nanie

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