I hear the slamming doors before the the storm of raised voices. I immediately recognize the scale of the argument, most likely started by a hormonal teenager who's mood goes from cold to hot in the blink of an eye. I listen intently to hear the exchange of words, although I don't have to strain to hear as the argument begins to descend the stairs. The magnitude of the yelling is so loud I'm pretty sure I'll have to explain something to the neighbors. So there's that.
Oh man, I think. Here we go again.
"You're not my dad!" I hear the fury hurled out from the younger voice. And my mind suddenly thinks of casting a fishing pole on a calm lake. His cruel words flung to the receiver like they don't carry any weight at all. They are just words and mean nothing at all to him but in reality his words cut deep. And all that bobbing in the water can eventually lead to a fish on the line. My husband doesn't take the bait and stands there listening to my son dissect his character---the very essence of who he is as a man, not to mention as a step father.
A string of foul mouthed verbiage seems to come out like throw up. And I cringe as I hear the teenager's last retort aimed at the very heart of the man who doesn't deserve this.
He didn't sign up for this for this attack. He didn't ask to raise kids that he didn't give DNA to. He fell in love with a girl who came with some extra baggage, two of which that actually belong to another man.
He didn't ask to get up in the middle of the night and wipe the tears from my daughter's face, as she tells of a bad dream.
He didn't ask to wipe snot faced noses or share the cost of raising them.
My husband, their step-father, might not have asked to always be the "bad" guy in every situation but he did choose this, willingly.
He chose them from the minute he knew of them. He fell in love with me, but chose to take on the roll of step-dad. A very thankless position that does so much work and yet, receives very little gratitude in return. He will always be second fiddle next to their biological dad, no matter how much he does for them. And yet he still shows up day in and day out. He chooses them despite the rejection that they, at times throw at him.
And as much as I hate the argument between my son and him, I realize while listening to it just how lucky my son truly is. How blessed he is to know my husband. And it may not be today, tomorrow or anytime in the near future as the hormones wreck havoc on his young mind and body, but at some point my son will realize just how much his "non-dad, husband of his mother" loved and fought for him from day one.
And when all was said and done and the house returned to calm, I took my husband's face in my hands and thanked him for showing up. I told him just how vital he is to my son's life and Welcome to fatherhood, babe. Welcome.
And I'm reminded that as much as we want to shy away from the hard work and the rejection that is bound to face us, parenting is believing that we are investing in the next generation. Because maybe my change to the world occurs in the raising of fine human beings who then will be world changers. Maybe they are our greatest success. I'm pretty sure my husband gets that notion.