January is a month of birthdays in our family: aunts, cousins, siblings, parents, etc. My husband’s dad, brother, and grandmother celebrated birthdays on the 13th and 15th. In no way am I trying to say that they are unimportant, but I want to shine the light on another birthday.
Enter this crazy guy–my step dad, Jon. This particular birthday is so important to me because it celebrates the man that does so much for those around him. When I first met Jon I didn’t realize that he and my mom would eventually get married. I was 6 at the time and thought he was just my mom’s friend. My parents had divorced a few years earlier, yet the thought that this man could one day be my step dad never crossed my mind. You see, I was a die-hard daddy’s girl. I thought my dad hung the moon and wanted to be around him every chance I got. It didn’t matter if he was drinking beer and watching the football game or heading off to the rodeo for a team roping competition–I wanted to be there. Despite the unsavory company, my mom allowed me to spend time with my dad, and for that I will be forever grateful. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started to understand that my dad had all of the fun while my mom and step dad did most of the raising. In no way am I intending to make a dig at my dad. I love him. But my step dad has given me something that only he could–security. Stability. The things a young girl craves. Together, he and my mother built a beautiful home, gave me a baby sister, and raised me up through my horrid teenage years. Seriously, this man is a saint. He has spent his life sacrificing so that my sister and I could enjoy a blissful childhood. We never had to worry or want for anything. He has worked countless long hours as a train engineer. You know how New York City is the city that never sleeps? I used to think my step dad was the man that never sleeps and worked for the company that never sleeps. I have no doubt that his job has given him a lot of grief and heartache. Over the years he had to miss birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, funerals, etc. He would go to work on little or no sleep, come home and do things around the house, help a family member work on a car, fix the tractor at the farm, grab a bite, rest his head, and do it all over again. As a teenager it didn’t phase me. I didn’t realize that he was making the sacrifices for us–for me. I knew he loved me. He told me so. And deep down he knew that I loved him too, but it was different. It wasn’t evident. I wasn’t very nice to him and I regret that with all of my heart. I guess I was still hanging on to my dad. I was so busy trying to have a relationship with someone that was so distant that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me. I wish I could go back…to be a little girl again and to realize how much this man adored and accepted me as his own. It seems so ironic now that the thing I craved the most–love–was there all along. He could have played favorites with my sister and I. He could have turned his back on me when I was disrespectful and undeserving of his love, but he didn’t. Now, I’m too big to sit on his lap or ask him to come have lunch with me at school. I can’t take back the way I acted during my years of rebellion. I can’t go back and take pictures of us on Christmas morning with the gifts that he paid for. I can’t go back and have him walk me down the aisle at my wedding–one dad on one arm, one dad on the other. But I can say thank you. Thank you for always supporting me and for being my biggest fan. Thank you for telling me that I was pretty, (except when I got my nose pierced! ha!) and smart, and a good mom. Thank you for helping me with my DIY projects and for coming over just to hang a mirror on my wall. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for Jarrett, Remington, and I. But most of all, thank you for being the dad that you didn’t have to be. I love you. Happy birthday!