First of all, I want to say I love you. I don’t feel like I ever say it enough.
It’s taken me a while to get to where I am today, and I have to thank you for most of it. A Stepdad was never a thing I thought I’d have – I had become so used to the idea of one Dad and one Mom, that any other relationship seemed inconceivable. As a seven-year-old, it didn’t really feel like I had a say in anything, including you – which, let’s face it, I didn’t. I must have thought you
That was the biggest mistake I think I’ve ever made, and one of my deepest regrets.
Because even though you may be stern – okay, let’s be honest, VERY stern – that doesn’t mean you’re horrible, like the Step-parent stereotype implies. You’re probably one of the kindest men I know. You didn’t HAVE to become a part of what seemed like a broken family – a single Mom and her tiny, neurotic daughter. You didn’t have to put in the effort and time and love to build a wonderful life for us, but you did. It takes a kind man to do all of that.
You’re intimidating, but in a good way. I wasn’t used to that personality; Mom is definitely very different. You really tried to be that dominating, responsible father figure that our family needed – which isn’t to say you tried to replace my Dad, but you were there for me in ways my Dad couldn’t at the time. I think, deep down, I harbored anger against you, because it felt like you were trying to be a physical replacement for him. Only with distance can I see you’ve only ever wanted the best for me and for my Mom and sister.
I think we’re the closest to a father/daughter relationship you can get. You’re the one who texts me when I’m spending too much money, being frivolous with responsibility when I need to shape up, and to remind me to respond to Mom’s texts and to yours (and I admit, I do try to avoid owning up to my faults, especially over text). You’ve almost single-handedly financed every weird medical and dental and dermatological and psychological issue I’ve dealt with since you married my Mom (and I’m sure now you look back on that money and think, wow, that could have helped with some other things), but you did that so I could be as healthy as possible. You also wouldn’t believe me when I wanted to skip school for being sick, because unless I was throwing up, then I could make it to class (and this is where I’d go crying to Mom, instead). You’re also the one who begrudgingly pays my rent each month, even though I’m (technically) an adult because you want me to focus on school and have a roof over my head. You’re the one who buys me printer ink when I’m low, pays the phone bill and doesn’t kill me when I go over the month’s data, lets me use his Amazon Prime account to ship things to my house, and moves all the heavy things around my house because I didn’t have a chance to inherit some muscle-building genes from you. You’re the one who is quietly judging the guys I date when you meet them, because you’re the ultimate deciding factor on who is worthy of being a part of my life. You’re the one who gets exasperated when I’m – well – exasperating. I’m pretty sure that’s the textbook Dad stuff.
Honestly, the more time that passes, the more I hate that prefix “Step”, as if you’re only a little responsible for my upbringing, when you’re an integral part of who I am today. Maybe in a few years I’ll still be technologically challenged and have to call you up to answer a simple tech question, or have to ask you the password for the Netflix account (because I’m still part of the family, even after I graduate college, and therefore get streaming privileges
You’ve loved me unconditionally, and for that, I will forever be thankful. I don’t think I can ever make up for the mistakes I’ve made in the past, for any shitty comment I’ve said to you or for any mistake I will make in the future, but I hope that from this point forward, I will remind you as often as possible how much you mean to me.
Thank you for being my Dad, sans-Step.
Your loving daughter,