Stepdad 101

In May, a tornado came through our town. The first tornado to touch down in our town in recorded history. My son was in the area affected. I can say that now very calmly, but trust me when I say that night I was anything but calm. 3:30 in the morning found us entering what looked like a war zone to pick him up along with his cat. (Have I mentioned that both my guy and I are severely allergic to cats?) There was nothing we could do but bring them both to our house.

This was the first occasion my guy and I had to have my son living with us, even part time, and for him, it was a full immersion into Stepdad 101.  Don’t get me wrong. We see my son at least once a week, but it’s usually dinner, laundry, maybe some errands, then we send him back to his place. It’s different being a stepdad to a grown offspring than to be in a relationship with younger children.

So, what does this have to do with the widow’s journey? Not only finding myself pulled between my guy and his happiness and my son and his well-being and security after such a catastrophic event, but suddenly missing my late husband more than usual.

The fact is, my guy has never had to deal with having offspring. He’s never had to deal with having a spouse. And that week, it was all happening at once, in our space, in our little slice of heaven. It’s tough to be a parent. And when your adult child (or as my friend calls them, chadults) comes into what was never their home,  you find yourself falling into the old habits.  I found myself pulled between my son’s needs, my now husband’s needs, and angry at his dad for not being here. My mama-bear protective mode was in overdrive as I had my cub under our roof and he actually needed me! But it was a different environment for him, and a different dynamic for us all. My guy has no idea what my son’s habits are, or how things were when it was just the two of us. It definitely caused some tension in our little house!

And yet, I miss my late husband. Still. Over five and a half years later, he is still very much missed. I can’t even play the “what if” game anymore because so much has happened in the last five years that he wouldn’t even recognize my life, our son’s life, or me, for that matter. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just all so very weird.

I’m so very grateful to my now husband for stepping up to the plate and embracing the crazy that is my life when he really didn’t have to. We’d been friends for so long that he could have just as easily said no. But he didn’t deny a love that has grown so amazingly beautiful and strong, and he didn’t say no to embracing my life, complete with a grown son. And he is totally rocking it in his Stepdad 101 course. 

He has stepped up to be a fantastic stepdad. His relationship with my son is deepening and most of it without me around, as they spend time together and have conversations about life and adulting without me. His affect on my son has been amazing and I know he never would be accomplishing all he is without his stepdad’s advice.

Our life is totally different now, and it is still unfair that he was taken from us so unexpectedly and at a young age. It’s totally unfair that my son has to navigate young adulthood without his dad’s sage advice and that safety net of home to fall into. But the unfairness is hard to focus on now with the lenses of what life is like now. And I am oh, so grateful for the life we have now, and the man my son is becoming. There’s a choice to be made when your life is totally changed, and though it took some time, I think we’ve all come to this part of the journey more grateful, more compassionate, a bit guarded, but definitely tougher. Be it death, tornado, or whatever, we are becoming a new family.


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