I consider myself lucky to have four amazing children. One biological, and three “bonus”. When I married my wife, I committed to my “step” children as well. They were, after all, a big part of why I loved her so much. When they hurt, I hurt, and when they succeed, well, I swell up like a balloon with pride. You know, the same way I do with my own biological daughter. I provide taxi service, go over homework, take them on bike rides, read bedtime stories, pay for braces, dry tears, and apply bandages when needed. I do all of these things, just like any other dad does.
I go by several different names around here: Baby (by my wife), Dad, Daddy Paddy, Daddy, and Poopsie, (by the respective kids). They are all names that translate loosely to “love”. See, that’s the thing. I know that the kids love me. All of them. They come to me for advice, they come to me for hugs, for emergencies, encouragement, and whenever they just need to be thrown into the neighborhood pool.
However, when Father’s Day rolls around, I tend to feel like something is missing, three “somethings” actually. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter like life itself and will never, ever, forget the moment when I first became a father and held her in my arms just seconds after she was born. I also love the fact that we get some awesome alone time together on Father’s Day. And I don’t resent that my other kids spend the day with their bio-Dad reminding him that he is important in their lives and how much they love him. (And yes I have, and always will, refer to them as my “kids”.) For both my wife and me, the word “step” just doesn’t feel right. We have always parented wholly and with equal love for all of the children.
I just wish that there was a day when the kids stopped for a minute and recognized that they are loved by this person who hasn’t known them all of his life, but loves them as if he’s known them for all of theirs. A day that I didn’t have to pack them off to their Dad’s house feeling that small twinge of emotion that I can’t quite put a name to. A day that was made just for me, a grateful and lucky Bonus Dad! So, until there is a Bonus-Dad’s Day, I’d just like to remind all the step-dads out there that even if we don’t have our very own “day”, we are still fathers, parents and still very important to the kids we are lucky enough to call ours! After all, last names and the shared genes don't define a real “dad”. Love and affection do. Why should I miss out on being celebrated? This year, I'll be celebrating Bonus Dad's Day... on Thursday!
Happy Father’s Day to ALL Dads!
Steven is a professional actor and Professor of Theatre based in Raleigh, North Carolina where he lives with his "Rolling Six" crew. Follow his family's love, chaos and dramatic adventures on Instagram or YouTube.