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Because you are second, doesn’t mean you are less important; second only in timing. The fact you have stepped up and into a role to help raise children that aren’t yours is only a testament to your character. The level of sacrifice and humility that comes with the title of Dad to someone else’s kids is beyond comprehension.
Marrying a widow who has lost her husband, marrying a family who has lost their dad, is a different equation than most. There is so much happiness and love mixed with so much sadness and a reminder of the loss. This is our first year with a new dad, the third for us without their dad.
There are a lot of emotions that come with sharing your children. As a single mom, whatever way you got there, there is a huge sense of protection that comes with introducing someone to your kids as a partner to help raise them. Raising the three of them on my own was more difficult than I could express. No breaks unless I arranged or paid for it. No one to tag team and support when a child was unruly and needed discipline. No one to help when multiple kids were sick and up all night.
And then you show up and step up, willing to pull more than your weight and be a true partner. A parent even though you don’t share the same DNA as they do.
You’re willing to help manage the kids’ emotions when they struggle with the loss of their birth dad. You honor their dad. You ask questions to learn about him so you can help the kids grieve, and acknowledge our connection with him that is so important to all of our health.
You aren’t step dad, you’re dad. Step implies some sense of removal of lack of closeness or importance of role, but that’s not true with you. You’re a welcomed addition. The completing of our family. A bonus. Bonus dad, at the least.
Father’s Day is one that you will always have to share, but not compete. The kids love you like they do their birth dad. A love that you earned so quickly because you chose to be there for them. You chose to protect and provide for them in the most beautiful of ways. They trust you because of that and love you for all you are to them.
You protect them, embrace them, pursue their hearts, discipline them, and love them unconditionally. It is more than a mom could have prayed for. Children need a father, they need that male in their life to raise them. To show them right from wrong and teach them different lessons that I can.
So on our first Father’s Day with you, I hope you feel celebrated. The first Father’s Day for you as a dad of four (and the last! Soon to be a dad of FIVE). Not many people could go from a father of one to five in just over a year with as much grace as you have. You are so special to us, an answer to prayer that God exceeded big time!
Here’s to all the dads who have stepped up. To the ones that have humbly accepted the responsibility of raising the children of another man. The ones who handle all the emotions, gracefully unraveling all the intertwined pieces of everyone’s trauma and pain. The ones who love when it all feels too overwhelming and complex. The true dads.
To the women who are waiting for the one to step up- don’t settle. That phrase honestly used to gross me out, because why would I? But truly, now that I have seen the character of the one who is worth it, I get what people meant. Don’t settle for the one who would be fine. Don’t settle for the one who will take on the responsibilities in your life begrudgingly. Wait for the one who shows with his actions that he is man enough to handle it. Wait for the one who is willing to take what you might think of as a burden, but they view it as a blessing and a calling. Wait for the one who will be a true leader of your family. Wait for the dad who earns the title.
Happy Father’s Day, Dustin.
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Photo in frame by Lindsey Nicole Photography.
Thank you to Framebridge for providing the frame for us and for making Dustin feel special on his day!
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I read your heartbreaking story and I am truly sorry for the loss of your husband. The name, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is all too familiar in my world. I am not going to take up all your time with our family history, but I will encourage you to get your children tested. They need an EKG and Echocardiogram. My dad had HCM, and didn’t know it. He had five kids, and passed it on to 3 of them. Both of my brothers passed away, at ages 12 and 14. They both had a cardiac arrest. They died 9 months apart. It is such a tragedy. The disease takes innocent lives everyday. There are no signs or symptoms. The only saving grace is, early detection. There are medical advancements and choices of care. You have a beautiful family. Continue to be strong and keep the faith. God is good, everyday. Please reach out at anytime.
Nicole Fergesen says
Thank you so much for sharing Jackie! It breaks my heart you’ve experienced so much loss. Thank you for the advice- we have had the kids tested. Marcus’ brother has the same disease and the mutated gene isolated and were able to test the kids conclusively that way. I’m not comfortable sharing the results publicly, but know I truly appreciate the concern and kindness to share your experience. More people need to speak up about diseases like this that are generally silent and the first symptom is death. So sad! Thanks again and I’m sorry for your losses ❤️
Emmie Boyce says
The pictures are so beautiful! I want to hang them on my wall, but that would be weird, lol. However, that’s how much they capture the love.