I’m taking a timeout from my usual lighthearted posts to share something very personal.
My parents got divorced when I was very little. I’m not complaining in the slightest – I had a great childhood with 2 parents that loved me more than anything in the world. They got along, and I was able to see either of them any time I wanted. I know many kids who were only able to see their dads every other weekend or sometimes less than that if they lived in different cities. Joint custody was the best thing that happened to me, which is a weird statement, but so true.
I was even more blessed (although I may not have thought so at the time), when they both met the love of their lives. My stepparents are just that to me – another set of parents. My stepdad and I have such a great relationship, just like any dad and daughter would. We cheer on the Wildcats together, he gives me great advice, works on my car when needed, and even took me to a couple of my high school daddy-daughter dances when my dad couldn’t attend. He has been there for me since I was 8 years old, and I consider his family as much a part of my own as my blood relatives. Of course, I wouldn’t trade my own dad in for anything, but those of you without stepparents probably have a hard time understanding that.
Heather, my stepmom, is the most generous, thoughtful person I know. Although we had a rocky start (no girl wants their daddy taken away!), she has become someone I can literally talk to about anything. I think she really understands my love of HGTV and is always up on the celebrity gossip. She’s pretty hip, I’d say 🙂 I look so forward to our time together in the future… planning my wedding shower, baby showers, picking out my wedding dress – all the things a mom and daughter should experience together. She and my dad are nothing short of perfect for one another and seeing their relationship has given me the strength to find someone who will treat me the way my dad treats her. I know both her and Al consider me their daughter – for that, I am so grateful.
My world was turned upside down, though, when I was 12 years old and found out Heather was pregnant. I mean, I had been an only child for TWELVE YEARS. That’s a long time. I was so upset! I couldn’t imagine how things could change for me so quickly. I liked being an only child. I liked having all the attention. I liked my life being normal. This was so unfair! In short, I was selfish. When Hali was born, I tried to dislike her, but that didn’t last long. Babies sure do have a way of finding a soft spot in your heart.
Everything changed again when I was 13 and my mom sat me down and told me she and Al were adopting a baby. My response, “you have to be kidding, right?” My mom knew everything I went through when Heather was pregnant, so I just thought, this can’t be happening again. Even though I loved Hali now, it was still so unfair! But that had no effect on my mom and Al’s decision, and obviously, looking back, it shouldn’t have. Anyway, Adriana, before she had that name, was growing inside a seventeen year old girl. The young woman decided giving her up would be the best decision, so my mom and Al committed before she was even born. They were there the day Adriana, Ana for short, breathed her first breath. I came the next day, a big sister again at the age of 14.
Although I love my now pre-teen sisters with my entire being, I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been difficult for me. In high school, I sometimes felt like a live-in babysitter instead of an older sister. I mean, I could play with them, but I couldn’t talk to them like sisters do. I always wanted someone close to my age to share secrets, stories, even argue. It was the American dream in my eyes.
As I went away to college, it got even weirder. My sisters were only 4 and 5. Not only was it difficult for them – they didn’t understand why I couldn’t be home all the time – it was weird coming home and trying to fit back into a family that had resumed its usual activities without me. In a way, instead of a nanny, I felt like a weird aunt or something. I think now, though, I have mostly gotten over that and realize that family is always family, even if you’re not a part of each other’s daily lives. My moms and dads love me all the same and my sisters love when I am around. Plus, I’m only 70 miles away, so I can really see them anytime.
I like where I am with Hali and Ana now. They are old enough to talk to and to hang out with, which is awesome. Ana helps me with my hair and Hali and I like to play Mario Kart. I finally feel like they are my sisters instead of my little mini-mes or something. I look forward to the times when they call me for boy advice, ask me to teach them to drive, and become aunts. Then I will be the one with the built-in babysitters 🙂
But, as we all know, life throws curveballs. Last July, my dad told me he and Heather thought they were pregnant. I am not going to lie – I literally prayed she wasn’t. God had already made His plans, though.
I was more in shock than anything else. While Hali and Ana could be my nieces, this child could really be mine. I mean, my mom had me when she was 23. One of my best friends is married and pregnant. So yes, I was upset, but not because of a lack of attention or because my world was changing all of a sudden. All I could think about is what other people will think of our weird little family, how my relationship with this baby will be different, and that I really won’t be able to talk to them like a sister until I’m, say, 60.
Oh, and then there’s my dad. I was more than a little surprised at his seemingly careless reaction to all of this. His immediate response was “God sure does have a sense of humor”. Then he went on to explain, “I think babies are a blessing no matter what.”
As of late, my dad taking everything in such stride has made me reflect on all of this – outsiders will think what they want. If they come up to me and say, “Oh, what a cute baby! But aren’t you a little young?” (like in that episode of 7th Heaven), I’ll just smile and say, “She is beautiful. And yes, I am too young to have a baby. Thanks for noticing.”
As for the people who know me, they may think it’s kind of strange, too, but they are being as supportive as possible. Maybe my friend Sarah’s baby, who is due in April, can have play dates with little Emeri. Okay, maybe not. Some things are just TOO weird.
Despite all of my concerns, Emeri Grace will be so loved. I have vowed to myself and to my dad that I will be around as much as humanly possible. After all, the relationship I have with her is up to me until she gets old enough to reciprocate. And so what if we have a weird relationship for a while? At least I can look forward to being 60 with 3 wonderful sisters to count on – something I never would have dreamed would happen to me 11 years ago.
And once I see that beautiful baby girl next month, I am sure I will be thanking God, and His sense of humor, for such a blessing.