To the Man Who Took Everything On,
I don’t say it enough, but I love you. In fact, I admire you. I wonder every day if I would have it in me to be a step-parent, and I’m not sure that I do. Maybe it’s because I love my own child so much that I feel like it’s impossible to ever love another kid like I love her. But you do it selflessly, and easily. You handle tantrums that irritate me. You genuinely enjoy playing the ridiculous games that she makes up. You tolerate the way she clings to you like plastic wrap. You treat her like your own. It’s a rare occasion that I say thank you for that. My gratitude for your presence is hard to put into words…even for me.
It’s been an obstacle course for us to get where we are today. I mean…our relationship is the definition of an actual emotional roller coaster. There were times when the obstacles were more than just internal. Times when other people tried to ruin what we have, times when I tried to ruin what we have. When the dust settles, you’re always there. I’m not used to that. It’s no secret that most of the men in my life have let me down at some point. It’s also no secret that I have a legit fear of the same thing happening to my daughter. I know I have to let the good in…but when it comes to her, I’m terrified of her feeling the same sense of abandonment and disappointment that I have felt. You’re right though, I cannot let my heartbreaks be hers.
When we met, I was a broken mess. Trying desperately to pick up the pieces of a shattered life that I thought was all set. Most people don’t understand that letting go of a life you never planned on changing is an actual grieving process. It’s hard to dismiss what could have been. One day, you wake up and realize that what is…is so much better than what you had planned. You begin to understand that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes you can’t see through the fog because you’re not supposed to yet. I wish every struggling single mom (or dad) could see that right away. Know that good is coming. After all, nothing is better than what you already have. A tiny, optimistic hand in yours.
So thank you. Thank you for making us laugh, for picking us up when we cry and for making us try again. Thank you for giving us a feeling of family. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when I gave up on myself. Thank you for being strong when I couldn’t. Thank you for sharing my joy in the little things, and for force feeding me optimism. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that you have given me back a sense of hope that I lost a long time ago. So again, thank you, for helping me begin to find my way back to myself.