Today, I celebrate the dad you are.

When my daughter was 2, I became a single mother. I slowly slipped into a reclusive life that solely meant providing for her the best way that I could, emotionally, physically, financially. I gave her my all. If I didn't have money for something she needed, I went into debt to give it. If I didn't have something she wanted, I skipped on something I wanted to make sure she got it. If I didn't have time, I cancelled things on my schedule, skipped study time, stayed up later or woke up earlier to make time. I vowed to do it on my own for as long as I lived if that's what I had to do to keep that little girl happy and healthy and avoid settling. For a while, being a single mother was easier. It was healthier for myself and my child. Necessary. Then, the unthinkable happened. I fell in love.

2 years later, I took the big leap of moving across country to be with the man I was in love with. Was it risky? Absolutely!! But I was a planner and had envisioned things going wrong and breaking my back to fix them. My backup plans had backup plans, so I abandoned my fears in favor of happiness and better health.

Prior to the move, my (then) boyfriend and I had talked a lot about how things would change. We discussed what his role would be in my daughter's life. He wasn't used to being around kids, so it was an adjustment. It was a little trying at times. But every day, I saw him grow. I saw him evolve into a more patient man. He became softer, kinder. The kid in him came out (more). He started lifting some of my parenting burden, helping cover preschool and clothing costs, taking my daughter to the movies or out for ice cream. Bringing little trinkets home because he saw them in a store window while he was walking to the train station and they reminded him of her. Then one day, she called him "daddy." We both looked at each other with big eyes because we weren't expecting it. It had been less than a year. Was it too soon? Did we tell her not to? We didn't know what to do...so we just let it slide. It became a regular thing. She'd say "what time is daddy coming home? I miss him." "Can you ask daddy if we can out for dinner?" I was a bit reluctant to comply with the title of daddy, right away, but over the course of 6 months or so, it grew on me and daddy became "daddy P." When I heard him speaking to others, "my girlfriend's daughter" simply became "my daughter." The level of acceptance made my heart soar with happiness.

A couple years have passed from those early days, and we've since had a child together and today I can say I love him even more for the dad he is. I find it absolutely beautiful that a man could love another man's child as his own flesh...that he can provide for her just the same. Sacrifice for her as he would our son. He's fair, forgiving, realistic. Supportive, flexible, fun(ny). Always there for the good & bad. Stuck with me for the 50 million ridiculous questions that are inevitable at dinner time. This man is everything I want in my children's dad and more! That is why I have celebrated him for past Father's Days and will continue to until the end of time.

Babe, thank you for all your hard work to make sure we are never without. Thanks for all your tough love and warm hugs. Thank you for showing our daughter what love looks like...for showing her what she deserves. Thank you for modeling the type of man I hope our son grows up to be. Thank you for being our safe place. Thank you for always making us happy in all the small ways and the big ways. The kids and I appreciate and love you, oh so much. Happy Father's Day, my love!

Happy Father's Day, also, to all dads everywhere doing the job: biological, adoptive, step, whatever your title may be. Y'all rock!

Dadandkids

Sincerely, Shantelle
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