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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stepfathers Deserve Their Own Father's Day
You won't find this card in a Hallmark store. Even Facebook does not know about it. But StepDad's Day is officially the second Sunday in June (aka the Sunday before Father's Day).

How it came to be an official family holiday is anybody's guess. My stepchildren wanted to celebrate Father's Day with me, but visitation stipulated that they be with their biological father on that day. So, they created StepDad's Day.

Let me tell you a little something about StepDad's Day. It is by far the best day of the year and it's because it goes beyond what a traditional Father's Day is all about. No cheesy ties, no cookie-cutter greeting cards. An authentic holiday.

Typically, StepDad's Day involves some sort of family activity. Given the time of year, baseball usually factors into a StepDad's Day. Sometimes it is a game my stepson might be playing in. Or, it could be taking the kids to a minor league baseball game. It always involves a cake made by the kids and a gift that carries more than a little sentimental value. Last year's gift was a keeper--a tie with a photo of all of us on it.

StepDad's Day took on a more special meaning the first year our daughter was around. She was born on May 22, so she was about two or three weeks old at the time. I think I cried. Okay, I definitely cried. The children's reaction to their new sister (who was 12 and 10 years younger than her siblings) had truly floored me and it all came to a head on StepDad's Day.

A special footnote to that StepDad's Day, my stepson was the winning pitcher in his baseball game. The game ball still sits on my mantle.

What truly made this StepDad's Day special occurred a week later on Father's Day. The older children were away and my wife had planned a quiet day with the baby and me. She had some small gifts but wanted to do a little more. I said "no". Why?

When you are a new father and working on far less sleep than you're used to, you often find yourself reacting solely on emotion. This is not a recommended life strategy, but in terms of celebrating a holiday without two of my children, it just felt right.

"No. Either we celebrate with all three or not at all." Not sure where that came from.
Logically, it made sense as a first-time father to celebrate Father's Day. But it just didn't feel right. So, we made the conscious decision to celebrate StepDad's Day only. That's all our youngest has ever known and she loves it every bit as much as her brother and sister.

On the surface, StepDad's Day may seem like a slap at the biological father. It is really not intended that way. Let's be honest though. Many stepfathers willingly accept their wives' children and, in some cases, walk into some pretty sticky situations with the ex-spouse. You pretty much expect to be picking up the slack for somebody else. It sometimes seems like a thankless job and at the end of the day they are still not your children, at least in one very significant way.

Though it may not always seem like it, your stepchildren do appreciate you on some level. They may know it now or it may not dawn on them until they are older but having a special stepfathers day gives them a way to say thank you. Just as a birthday is as important to parents as to the child whose birthday it is, StepDad's Day is your kids' day, too.

Whether it's the Sunday before Father's Day or some other time, celebrate StepDad's Day once a year. Make it a special time with you and your children. You will find, as I have, that it's the very best day of year.

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