My stepson lives with us every Wednesday night and every other weekend, as well as on certain holidays and special occasions. While we wish it were more than that, we are happy that we have as much time with him as we do. He is the light of our lives and holds the key to our hearts. His Daddy and I adore him more than we could ever put into words. And as much joy as it brings us to have him here, it is hard to know how to respond to people when we hear the words “I bet he loves coming to Dad’s house.”
“Dad’s house”? What does that mean? That he has nothing here that makes him feel welcome, or that we throw a sleeping bag down in the corner and call it a bed? That we erase any memory of him in this home as soon as he is out the door? That we don’t think of him or talk about him on the days that he is not here? That just because he isn’t here everyday that this is not his home?
To see my stepson and his daddy together is truly a remarkable thing. They have a bond that cannot be described through words that has been there since minute one. He was the first to hold him, the first to kiss him, the first to be there. While he and his son’s mother were no longer in a relationship at his birth, he was still there – he WANTED to be there, forever in his son’s life. He had a room set up with crib and all, inside this home before his son’s birth where my step son spent nights even when he was only a few weeks old, his Daddy waking in the middle of night to take care of him, to feed him, to rock him, to just be there. Pictures of each and every event – from birthdays to baths – have been taken and hung up on these walls, along with more pictures of us all together as we grew into a family ourselves. We look at them each and every night. Running our fingers across each one as we go up the stairs to bed.
Although his room sits empty most nights, we still make sure his special night time books and Spiderman blanket are there for the next time he comes. His air purifier runs non-stop, as we know it’s important for his health to keep it running, even when he’s not here due to his severe allergies. His books fill every bookshelf in our home and the desks and shelves are lined with everything from Lego blocks to Mr. Potato Head to anything ever made from the Thomas the Train Engine collection. And we’re always adding new toys and books to his collection, not because we want to spoil him, but because we know that it’s important for him to have age appropriate things here as he grows and develops.
Even when he’s not here, we look for things we can do as a family, like simple board games or recipes to make together, as he LOVES to help in the kitchen. When he is here, we simply make time for him, as this is the best gift we can give our children. My husband and I may love going to concerts and dinners, shows and movies, but we happily give our time to our son over those and many other things. We have never once hired a sitter for him just because something we wanted to do fell on a night he was here. Simply put, he can give us more enjoyment than any outside entertainment can provide.
He is our number one focus. We work hard to be good parents and help him grow, even though we know we can’t be with him everyday. We potty trained him, are always teaching him new things, and we make all of our meals from scratch with him due to his food allergies. We also work hard to create moments for our son to treasure when he’s with us. He has been to Disney World and goes to the zoo and Children’s Museum regularly. He has been to Colts, Pacers, and Indians Games. He has kissed the bricks at IMS and ran the field of Lucas Oil. He is learning to play the drums and is already interested in playing guitar. We want him to grow in every way and we take advantage of every opportunity to help him do so.
He has his routine in this house. He likes dinner with all of us sitting around the coffee table because he gets to sit in his little chair so that his feet can touch the floor. He has to read Green Eggs and Ham, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Snowballs right before bed. He likes giving big kisses, small kisses, big hugs, and little hugs, as well as cheek kisses, forehead kisses, hair kisses, chin kisses, neck kisses and mugga mugga’s (nose rubs) to each of us before he falls asleep. He has to have his “friends,” aka the Mickey Mouse crew we bought in Disney world, before he can go to bed (and if one of the 5 is missing, he lets us know!). And all of this is just a tiny glimpse into our world with him – a world that is made better because he is in it, even if he’s not here everyday.
It is easy for us to look at our lives and feel happy and fulfilled. We may only have our son part of the time, but we are full-time parents. We do everything we can for him whether he is here or not. We give him what he needs, every experience we can think of, and all of the love he can feel when he is with us. So my thought is always the same when someone says “I bet he loves coming to Dad’s house”… He doesn’t just come to his “Dad’s house”. He simply comes home.