Happy (Step)Father’s Day!


The original step-dad

When I was picking out my Father’s Day cards, I found all sorts of possible combinations:  from daughter to father, from father to grandfather, from son-in-law to father-in-law, even one from the dog (I’m not kidding about that).  I did not, however, see any that were geared specifically to a stepdad.  It can be a little tricky, picking out the right card for a stepfather.  It makes me wonder if the card industry has decided that stepfathers aren’t really family, or maybe they’re just hoping someone will make up a separate Stepfather’s Day so they can cash in even more.  In case there’s any question, though, I’d like to lay out the case for why my stepdad is definitely family and should absolutely get a Father’s Day card.  I think that, if you read all of my reasons, you’ll end up agreeing—and if any of you work for card companies, maybe you’ll come up with a few card options for next year.

My Reasons For Why My Stepdad Is Family:

 1.  He went to my school concerts and plays

I took this for granted when I was growing up.  If I had a concert, everybody went.  That’s just how it was.  Now that I’m old enough to have to be fortunate enough to sit through go to children’s concerts myself, I understand just how much that meant, because those concerts are terrible  horrible GODAWFUL.  When I was a child, I thought my choir or band or whatever was usually pretty good, and comparatively speaking, we probably were.  But that’s like saying that sour milk smells comparatively better than rotten eggs.  It may be true, but that’s still really, really bad, and he sat through it over and over and over, knowing how dreadful it was going to be, because he wanted to support me.  That’s family.

2.  He helped me move

Not just once.  Not just when there were elevators.  Twice a summer every summer while I was in college, and about a half-dozen times since then, almost always when it was either sweltering or freezing cold with icy rain just to keep things fun.  It’s not just help moving furniture, either, it’s cleaning up the apartment (including bathrooms) and fixing leaks and figuring out why that light fixture isn’t working and I don’t even know what else, because he does it all while I’m off doing something easy, and he does it without being asked, which is good because I’d never have the nerve to ask him to do half the things he does.  That’s family.

3.  He puts up with my pets

I once had a seven-week gap between apartment leases, and I had to ask my mom and stepdad to take the cats in while I rented a room for those seven weeks.  I don’t know that I would ever describe my stepdad as a cat person.  I think he’s the kind of guy that, if he had to have pets, he would pick a dog, but he’d just as soon not have anything else to have to clean up after.  He took the cats in without a murmur, though, and let them have their catty way with his house.  I even heard stories of him letting “that brown cat” (my siamese) curl up on his head at night, but I’m not sure I can believe that one without pictures (oh please, Mom, tell me there are pictures!).  Subjecting his wall-to-wall carpeting to creatures whose favorite pastime is horking up most of the food they just ate was really testing the limits, but he did it because I needed him to and never once complained.  That’s family.

4.  I can’t stand the thought of disappointing him

I love my dad.  A lot of the things I do, I do because I want him to be proud of me.  A lot of the things that keep me up at night are things that would disappoint him.  Most of the time, these things motivate me to make good choices (saving for retirement! yay!).  Sometimes, not so much (don’t follow that dream! it’s not sensible!).  But that’s on me because those are my choices.  At the heart of every one of those things that my dad wants for me, and that I want to do to make him proud, is his wish for me to be happy.  That’s how you know that someone is family.  Underneath all of the fighting and nagging and drama and stress, you all truly want each other to be happy.  So I make good choices because I don’t want to disappoint my father, who wants me to be happy, or my stepfather, who wants the same thing.  I want to make them both proud because they’re both family.

I defy you to hear those reasons and then tell me that my stepdad doesn’t need a Father’s Day card.  As an adopted child with stepparents, I can tell you categorically that blood is neither the beginning nor the end of family.  Hallmark and the other greeting card companies just need to get with it.  Although, I did find a pretty good card for my stepdad this year.  On the front, it asked “Where would I be without you?”, and on the inside it said “Yes, but which prison?”  Really, I think that sums it all up, don’t you?

[All images are in the public domain via pixabay.com]


Why My Dad Is The World’s Best Dad: With Examples

Father's Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

Father’s Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

I’ve seen a lot of merchandise out there in anticipation of Father’s Day, or more accurately in anticipation of cashing in on Father’s Day.  I’ve seen any number of mugs and T-shirts saying “World’s Best Dad” and foam fingers proclaiming the wearer to be “#1 Dad”.  What I haven’t seen is any evidence to back up these claims.  I mean, anyone can wear a t-shirt and drink from a mug.  Most people can even bring themselves to wear foam fingers from time to time.  But I have yet to see a treatise laying out the reasons that one’s particular father is the best in the world.  And I think I know why.

Because my Dad is the best in the world.

In keeping with my opening paragraph, I’m going to lay out the reasons why.  I fully realize that many of you may disagree and say that your father is the best in the world, and I’m ready to admit that there may be a tie for this position, but I’m going to need to hear the reasons before I concede the stalemate.  Here are mine:

  1. The Sledgehammer:  One of my earliest memories is of my father handing my sister and me a sledgehammer and telling us to knock down a wall.  He was remodeling the house from roof to basement, and the house was mostly plaster for a year or two.  If you didn’t put a cloth over your belongings, you came back to find them coated in white dust.  We’ll find out eventually, I’m sure, that breathing in plaster causes some horrific medical condition, but it was totally worth it to be a five-year-old wielding an adult-approved sledgehammer.  Even if I couldn’t lift it yet.
  2. Democrats are Evil:  My father and I were arguing about politics one evening.  I know, I know, not a good call, but there was an election approaching and I hadn’t yet come up with Life Rule #37:  Never Argue Politics With Dad.  I made some clever, witty observation (I’m assuming; I don’t actually remember), and my father, a staunch Republican, made the comment “All Democrats are evil.”  I said, a bit miffed, “I’m a Democrat!  Does that mean I’m evil?”  To which he replied, “You’re not evil; you’re just misguided.”  Best comeback line ever.
  3. BBQ SNAFU:  I was out with a few fellow graduate students on a summer afternoon.  We went to a local park where there were grills available for public use.  We brought hamburger patties, rolls, fixins, charcoal, etc.  We totally had it covered.  Except that, when we got there, we discovered that no one among the dozen or so of us there actually knew how to use the grill.  I hadn’t worried about it because I assumed that all guys know how to do this, which I realize is a total feminist fail.  Everyone just sort of milled around, debating possible approaches but never actually doing anything useful, which now that I think about it is a pretty good analogy for grad school in general.  I, however, being the daughter of an engineer and a science teacher, knew exactly what to do:  I called my father.  He gave us step-by-step instructions to get the bricks placed correctly and the fire going, and they worked perfectly.  That, however, is not what makes him so awesome.  The part of this story that makes him so awesome is that he picked up the phone right away, was totally ready to drop what he was doing to help his daughter, and knew exactly what to do even with no warning.  World’s best Dad!
  4. Night School:  When I was a little blind baby, my mother went back to school.  She went to night school because my Dad worked during the day and, strangely, the school wouldn’t admit a squalling infant.  That meant that childcare fell largely to my father in the evenings.  You know those commercials where moms fantasize about fathers who happily share child care duties and don’t think it’s somehow emasculating?  My dad is that dad.  We hung out, him and me, chillin’ at home while the Moms was in class.  He had it under control:  diapers?  Check.  Formula?  Check.  Baby who won’t stop crying until you pick her up and rock her?  Check.  Forming unbreakable bond with tiny baby girl?  Massive check.  Right now you’re thinking, that is the pinnacle of awesomeness.  She can’t possibly top that.  And yet, I can:
  5. When a Fail Really Isn’t:  For those of you who don’t know, I’m adopted.  I was having a conversation with my father recently about health issues.  He told me I ought to get such and such checked out because it was a serious issue on my mother’s side of the family.  I looked at him a little funny and asked which mother he was talking about, biological or adoptive.  He looked completely blank, then sheepish:  he forgot I was adopted.  He completely forgot that I’m not his biological daughter because he really, honestly loves me and thinks of me just as if I shared his DNA.  I was going to dare you all to top that, but I know you can’t.  My dad really is the World’s Best Dad.

And so is yours.  Everyone’s got a list.  I encourage everyone else to let their fathers know what’s on their list, because many dads don’t realize how incredible they are.  Happy Father’s Day!