Friday, August 19, 2011

I Don't Call Him Daddy

When my mother remarried in 1981, I got 2 new sisters and a Step Dad. Better than just getting new peeps to play with, the older of the two girls shared my birthday and the younger was only four days older than me! I couldn't have been more excited if they had been delivered to the church on the day of the wedding in a big box with air holes and bows around their necks. This was cooler than getting a new puppy!

The blended family thing isn't easy by any means. We moved to the house my Step Dad lived in and his daughters lived with their mother. For many years, especially during those years when you can't stand your own siblings (Sorry Christy... love you!) Dena and Beckie were the highlight of my weekends. I would wait for the every other weekend visits, and it was like having a 2 day sleep over with friends. 

We're over thirty years into this now and while I have always referred to the girls as my sisters, I rarely refer to their father as "Dad". I am the only one who doesn't. It's not that I don't love him like my Dad. For most of my life he was the only Dad I had. My biological father struggled with alcoholism which made him an absentee for the majority of the years I really needed a guy around. My Step Dad provided for us, gave us shelter, food, clothing, invited us into his family, and when we needed it... a good swift kick in the ass. Trust me, there were times I really needed it. 

So what keeps me from making the leap like my biological brother and sister have? Respect. I'm not talking about respect for him. I hope that he knows how much I love him and how much he's meant to me all these years. My respect is to my sisters. 

Since I didn't have the same sort of experience with my own Dad as they did, I always thought how lucky my sisters were. When they went home on Sundays, I wondered if they ever felt jealous that we got to spend all week every week with their dad, in their house, with their old toys, and they didn't. Even at a young age, I remember thinking that if I were them I would be mad about the whole thing. If I had called him "Dad" it would have been like taking away that last little thing that belonged to just them. I sure didn't want anyone else calling my mother Mom. She was the only Mom I had! I didn't want to do that to them. I didn't want to hurt my friends, and that's what they were. 

Many years later as I went through a divorce myself, my ex husband began to date our daughter's best friend's mother. Within a year of our separating, her best friend moved into our old house, into her old room, with her toys, and her Daddy. Unfortunately, things became progressively worse for my daughter as her best friend took great joy in taunting her with things like, "He's MY Dad now. NOT yours." I watched her withdraw into herself and her grades began to fall. She was having trouble in school and the two girls were separated and put into separate class rooms. It broke my heart to see her heart breaking and I couldn't help but to think of my sisters, and be glad I never called him Dad. 

So to Denny, husband to my mother, the guy who taught us the importance of hard work and all we ever wanted to know about little Johnny, Olie, Lena, and other fictional joke characters, and what it means to really step up to the plate... I love you and hope you know that in my heart, whether I call you by the name or not, you're always my Dad. 


rachel said...

Wow... it was like you were writing about my life there for a minute. My step-dad raised my sister and I, my dad was absent and struggled with alcoholism, my "new" sisters are the same ages as my sister and I. I'll never forget the day I told my mom I was going to have my step-dad walk me down the aisle at my wedding and she told me he wouldn't. Out of respect. For my dad's family. He's an amazing guy! And even though I still call him by his first name 30 years after he married my mom, he's my dad.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. I hope that my kids feel that closeness to my husband as they grow up, even though they do have a relationship with their dad. My youngest is 6 and often says "I have 2 dads" like he is the luckiest boy in the world. They all call my husband by his first name, and I'm sure always will. I do know that even though they are not his kids by blood (and he has 4 of his own!) he loves them like they are. That means the world to me. And no, blending families is NOT easy! It's a struggle for us something, but I feel very blessed. And as for your daughters BFF, I'm in shock at how much of NOT a friend she really was. What a brat! That breaks my heart.

Anonymous said...

This post is wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Although, I'm sorry your daughter has to go through that.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I suppose what you needed was alternative word to 'Dad'. Maybe you should have called "SID", which means Stand-in-Daddy.

Linda Medrano said...

Do you know, my kids were grown when I married Alex. He is quite a bit younger than I am and it would be weird for them to call him Dad. When my first grandchild, Cyrus, was born, he couldn't pronounce Alex but he called him "Agus". Alex is called "Agus" by all six grandkids and he loves it. (I'm just plain old Grandma.) My children had a dad and a good one. There is no need for them to call someone else by that name.

Meg said...

I mentioned before that I am from a blended family as well. My dad was raising my brother and I when he married Jody, who had three children of her own. My stepsister and I are just a month apart in age and shared a room until we both left home. Growing up, I didn't mind calling her Jody because I never felt all that close to her. Now, she's been my stepmom for 29 years and I feel awkward still calling her Jody. She means more to me than that. I have a good relationship with my birth mother, but I have a good relationship with Jody too. And when I refer to my parents, I always mean my dad and my stepmom. They ARE my parents. There should be a name for these people that step up and raise kids that aren't their own. Is it just me or does stepparent just sound sterile?

Azra said...

This is a beautiful story, and it makes you one very special lady. I hope your sisters know that! Thanks for sharing :)

Left Coast Guy said...

I'm learning something new everyday, Angie. Seems the more I come to understand the more questions I have. Azra is right, you are special.


Angie said...

I checked with my siblings (all 5 of them) before scheduling this post. I am blessed that they didn't mind me writing about them... again. I am going to work on a better, less sterile name for my step-dad. Since my kids and nieces and nephews have been born, it seems he is called Grandpa more than anything.

Crystal said...

That`s awesome and I totally agree. I went through a few step dads and never even considered calling any of them Dad - even if they were the good ones! I like that it's respect for your friends/sisters and for the friend (ex I'm assuming) of your daughters can someone please give her a swift kick in the ass!

Anonymous said...

Very nicely written. Great story. Thank you for sharing it. Your family should be proud.


RCB said...

That's quite a story, Angie. If I were a psychologist -- but my then girlfriend said, 'DON'T DO IT!' (Can you imagine!)-- I would say that writing your blog must be a cathartic exercise at times. I remember advising you to go and sit butt naked on a rock (or something like that), because hey what's the fuss about right, but opening up like you're doing here, well, I couldn't possibly do that. Thanks for sharing.


P.S. I can't imagine you needing a good swift kick in the ass.

Angie said...

There are plenty of times I deserved the kick in the butt. Trust me. :) Thanks for the kind words. They mean a lot.

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