To My Stepfather Who Made Me His Priority

“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater…The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.” ?Sarah Dessen

You're the only man who deserves my mom.

So many men fall in love, yet don’t fight for it, don’t make an effort for it. They get selfish, lazy, they focus on the negative – make excuses for why they stop fighting for it. But you never let any circumstance ruin this – this true love for mom and this unconditional love for me.

Every day I see how you look at my mom – you look at her like every woman should be looked at by the man that she loves. I can see how much you appreciate her – how you feel her love, her beauty; her genuineness that can’t be replaced. I see the way you look at her and it makes me believe in lasting relationships again.

You choose mom every day.

You remain loyal when things aren’t working in that moment, when you fall on hard times, when you struggle, when there’s doubt. You choose her every day. I can see in your eyes that you would never desert mom. That you would never leave her alone in any way, that you choose her fully. But I not only see your love when you look at her, I see the actual execution, the showing up for her.

Because love is making an effort for it when you have found it, and you focus on the every day gifts she brings to your life: strength, humor, beauty, love, laughter.

And you choose me every day, too.

We both have strong personalities, you and I. It wasn’t easy – there were many times where I resented your discipline and contested your very existence, but now I understand.

To choose someone means to never give up on them. No matter how hard things got, no matter how much we fought and I protested, you felt a duty to be there for me. To challenge me, to teach me to be better. Because you love me, because you are a man who doesn’t walk away when things get rough. You never give up. You never had one foot out the door. Not only do I admire this, I can’t thank you enough, because your smallest act of effort was worth more than the grandest intention from anyone.

I know it was difficult at times.

I know we argued a lot. But a relationship between daughter and stepfather is always a complicated one, defined by lifelong adoration and momentary contempt.

I fought with you at inopportune times because I took you in as my father, and a relationship between father and daughter is never perfect. It is not meant to be easy; calm seas and smooth sailing. It is meant to teach you something. It is meant to be a challenge because caring for someone is not easy.

You never tried to be my friend – you were my parent, my teacher, and took the risk for me to hate you forever if that meant protecting me, teaching me, never letting me get away with slacking on my talents or putting in the effort towards being better. You wanted the best for me.

I will always feel safe with you.

And there is no greater gift you can give me. You’re the one man in my life who I know I will always be able to count on. Through everything, you were able to embrace and see that it was your job to not leave when things get hard. That mom and I were worth fighting for.

You never once let any circumstances be an excuse to stop being there for me – you were selfless, you put mom and me first. You took me in, the biggest responsibility that one can have, with such strength and integrity, and never once when we fell on hard times did I feel like you might leave. 

You remained a stable and consistent figure in my life and you taught me that sometimes, life is not a straight line. Sometimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

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