a birthday story

Today is Friday, the day before my little boy’s 6th birthday. Six years ago, I was already in the labor. Earlier this evening, when he went to bed we started assembling (or rather my fiancé assembled, I handed the occasional screw driver) a 12ft trampoline in our yard. It’s now 11.30. We’re finished, and I’m asking myself in the dark and the wind; has it gotten any easier? In short yes, hell yes, immeasurably (even if at times it doesn’t feel it). For a start, it wasn’t me, single headedly building the trampoline (phew; it would almost certainly be a cage of bouncing death if I did build it, also he’d be 12 by the time it was done).
About a week ago I was sorting through some old things at my parents and found a book of letters I wrote to him just before, and after he was born. I was excited to read them, and then put them away for him, but after I reread what I’d penned nearly seven years ago, I felt ill.

I’d forgotten so much of what our lives were like when he was born that I wish I’d just stuck with the story I’d pieced together in my mind from clouded memories and photographs. I threw the book away after I read it and knew I’d done the right thing. Reading through the letters I didn’t see a together, determined young mother, I saw a terrified and alone teenager trying to keep it all together. This is not something he needs to see.
When he wakes up in the morning, it’s probably because he’s ridiculously excited to be spoilt on his birthday or because his little sister is scampering about making sounds for him to play with her. Or maybe even both. He’ll walk into the kitchen and see presents and spot his new,  trampoline that his devoted step father built for him in the dead of night. We’ll take him to his soccer final and out for a celebratory breakfast afterwards where he’ll eat cake for breakfast; just because he can. He does not need to read about where he came from, or have to remember where he’s been. It’s unimportant. What’s important is that he’s a ridiculously happy, smart and loved little kid who just so happens to come from a “blended” family.
I hate this term “blended family” it’s given to families that included children from previous relationships and it sounds like we’ve all been thrown together and beaten until we’ve mixed and are ready for the oven (don’t get me wrong, if we were, we’d make a flipping delicious cake). But it’s not the case and it’s a stupid term that divides families unnecessarily into categories. A family is a family regardless of whose womb you sprouted in or whose sack you happened to escape. A family is what defines who you are and where you’re going regardless of lineage.

We recently listened on giggling as he spoke to one of his friends; “My step dad is the best dad in the world, don’t you wish your dad was a cool step dad like mine?” we looked at each other and giggled; saying that he clearly didn’t understand the difference between having a step dad and having a “real’ dad. But I think he did. He’s a child and he calls it as he sees it; he sees himself as having the best “real” father figure in the world, and it couldn’t matter less to him if he’s a “dad” or a “Step dad” because in his little mind there’s no difference.

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