“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you to be in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to make you smile and who love you no matter what.”
This is for all of the men who love the children in their lives as if they are a superhero.
Not just stepdads or grandfathers, but any man who simply extends time and love to children who are not biologically his own.
These men step up and show these children that some men stay.
Parenting is a full-time job, oftentimes without a break or any help. In a perfect world, every child would grow up knowing that they are loved unconditionally by both parents, even if those two people’s lives are meant to be lived separately.
Sometimes our parenting partners aren’t the love of our lives, but instead the person who was meant to help create these amazing little people. The best way to be a parent is to be the kind of person we want our children to become. We must set a good example.
In reality, not every person who has a child is able to be a proper parent.
All bitterness aside, everyone’s path takes a different direction and oftentimes people just need to go off and find themselves before they can take on the role of caring for another.
Whenever space is made by someone leaving, there is an opportunity to have that void filled by men who choose to stay.
These men are superheroes. They simply extend love to any child regardless if they helped create them or not.
This love is free from obligation and is instead sweetened by his desire to bring smiles to a child’s face. It is as natural as breathing—these men understand the value of being present in a child’s life.
Just because these men may haven’t loved our children from birth, doesn’t mean that their love is any less special or true.
So thank you to the men who continually choose to show up for children they are not obligated to care for.
Thank you to the men who let little toddlers wobble around them as they fix something around the house, because these children are eager to learn about the world.
Thank you to the men who practice basketball dribbling or get muddy looking for salamanders. They simply agree to the whims of these little people and say, “yes.”
Thank you to the men who have opened their hearts, loving with the fierceness and courage of a superhero. These men show a child the true meaning of love by being accountable
Children don’t care if his DNA is not coursing through their veins.
Children don’t know about family lineage or blood lines. They only know who is there drawing and coloring with them in the afternoon, or smiling as they blow out another year’s birthday candles. Children pay attention to who gives them morning cuddles as the sun filters through a sleepy room, and who comes and tucks them back into bed after a raging thunderstorm.
His heart belongs to these children. Because children know what really matters, and to them you’ve always been there for them. In the end, that is what makes someone a parent.
Even if this superhero isn’t a true step-parent, and is instead just an amazing male role model, he brings the gift of sharing himself into their lives.
Because children don’t need promises, but they do need action. Regardless of what he’s had going on in his life, he’s always been there for them.
Thank you to the men who can confidently care for the children who have woven their way into his heart and life. Thank you to the men who fluently speak the language of childhood and know that children have never needed their perfection in order to feel loved.
He knows that it’s truly about the small things, and whether he spends every day with our children, they’ve learned the consistency in his love.
Things don’t change much day-to-day, and regardless of what may happen down the road, these children will always be able to count on him when they need someone.
He’s an amazing superhero, because he stepped in where another stepped out. He’s spent time with these children because he wanted to. He’s taught them what it feels like to have the attention and love from a man who is simply present for them.
I know that at times he may underestimate his importance in these children’s lives, perhaps because he isn’t biologically linked to them. But regardless of that, when these children think of Father’s Day—they think of him.
Because they understand that what it truly takes to be a father figure and whether you’ve set out to be that or not—you are.
So, thank you for taking the time to love these children like Superman, because you’ve shown them that blood isn’t always thicker—and that sometimes our superhero is simply the person who chooses to stay.
Author: Kate Rose
Image: flickr/Tom Bullock
Editors: Ashleigh Hitchcock; Sarah Kolkka