My parents got a divorce when I was 5 years old, and although I didn't understand the capacity of what that meant for my family dynamic, I was certainly devastated by my situation, as my dad moved out almost immediately after their separation. Fortunately, I maintained a positive relationship with both my parents, and my family did a good job at balancing the time my sister and I spent with each parent. While my parents' divorce ultimately caused a lot of feelings of loss in my life, it also gave me one of the most wonderful gifts I could've asked for: my stepdad.
My stepdad, Bobby, came into my life when I was 7 years old. I'll admit that for the first few years of our relationship, I had an extremely difficult time letting him into my life for fear that he was trying to become my father and take over that role in my life. I didn't want another male figure in my life when I already had facilitated that relationship with my biological father, and I felt the need to defend his role in my life since he wasn't always around to do that himself because of our joint-custody agreement. My attitude made our dynamic difficult until my mom and I moved in with Bobby.
As hesitant as I was, I learned to understand that Bobby only wanted the best for me. He didn't want to take over the role my dad played in my life or take over our relationship; instead, he wanted to add to the fatherly love in both my and my sister's lives — because he loved us both like his own children. He didn't want to betray my biological father, step on any toes, or cross any boundaries. He just wanted to love us unconditionally and welcome us into his family, simple as that.
The first time I remember accepting both of them as my father was in third grade. As a class, we had to bring in frozen juice cans to turn into pencil cans as a Father's Day gift. I was so excited to make two of them, and I remember the pride I took in customizing each can to both fathers. It was something small but made me so happy. I recently found out that my stepdad still has the can to this day. Looking back, it hilariously reads "thanks for sometimes acting like my dad" with a poorly drawn picture of us holding hands. Even at a young age, I knew they were both important to me.
As soon as my sister and I embraced him into our lives, things changed for the best. I realized that having multiple father figures was a blessing and changed the dynamic of our family in such a wonderful way. I loved spending the morning and early afternoon of Father's Day with my biological dad and celebrating with him, then ending the day with a special dinner for Bobby. Although we don't celebrate it together as one family, I find ways to make the weekend special for both of them. We always break up the day to ensure the two most important men in my and my sister's lives know that we love them both equally and that they've both given us so much in life. One year, my mother and I took my stepfather to an animal park near our hometown the day before Father's Day to celebrate with him, while the next day, my biological dad and I went to an island on the coast together to collect sea glass. Making time for both and spending quality time doing what they love is a tradition I've done my best to keep up. It's why Father's Day is so special to me — because I personally have so much to celebrate.