For a man there are few bigger challenges in life than becoming a father. But a bigger challenge than becoming a father with the woman you have made a baby with, is becoming a father with the woman you haven’t made a baby with. An even bigger challenge is becoming a father with the woman you made a baby with, and then becoming father with a woman you didn’t make a baby with.
To be an actively involved biological father as well as an actively involved step-father is a unique and challenging role that is rife with complications. Two children, two women, two families all putting their faith, love and need on one man. One woman you used to love who has your biological child, one woman who you currently love who has your step-child. Two children who see you as daddy and project all the requirements of a father that come with that role onto just you.
This is the role The Boy has taken on.
One challenge this role brings with it is how to ensure that two children, one from the start and one newly acquired, don’t feel treated differently.
When Z cries for daddy it is with exactly the same need, love and pain that Miss Rose has when she cries for him because Miss Rose has absolutely no concept of the fact The Boy is not her father. As far as she is concerned this man who loves her, lives with her, cares for her, raises her and is her family, is daddy. There is no sliding scale of how much of a “daddy” he is, he is just daddy.
The Boy is certainly the father she needs, the father she deserves, but my heart breaks for her a little bit. One day she will realise he is not her father and the father she could have had disappeared. She will have an understanding that he has loved Z harder and longer than he has loved her. The Boy makes every effort to ensure she knows he loves her and that he doesn’t consider her less important in his life than Z, but nature can sometimes put situations in front of you where one child has to take focus, and we each go to our own biological child.
For Z when I automatically think to Miss Rose it is less obvious because he has a mother. My role in his life is different than that of a biological parent because he has both of those to hand. For Miss Rose she has just The Boy. The Boy is daddy and there is nothing else she knows, so when Z has to take focus for whatever reason she doesn’t understand.
That is a challenge The Boy will face regularly, and one he manages beautifully. For the most part Miss Rose is given the exact same attention as Z and thrives on it. It’s something which I admire in him daily and seems easy for him. Miss Rose is his little girl and he is her daddy, and that is something that I have cried tears of joy over when I watch them play, watch her cuddle him, and hear her whisper “I love you, daddy” whilst she snuggles into him.
Another challenge is having two women, both your family, and both needing your attention.
Because The Boy and his ex-wife have a good relationship and parent as a team, they are in constant communication. We spend time all together, fostering an environment in which Z can have his two families happily together, a world where all his significant adults are happy and relaxed and the room is filled with love and laughter.
It’s a beautiful thing and a situation we all take pride in. But it comes with it’s own challenge.
For me the challenge is watching The Boy being a family with another family. Watching The Boy chatting, laughing, and being a partner figure to another woman. Watching the two of them playing with their child together in a little set up to which Miss Rose and I am not part of. I understand it, I respect it, and I do not begrudge it. The fact they get on well enough to enjoy time together with the child they made is something unique and special, but it leads to complex emotions which need to be managed, and the pressure to manage those falls to The Boy.
Maintaining a happy relationship with your Ex-Wife whilst ensuring your new girlfriend is happy with that happy relationship. Being part of a new family set up whilst keeping your old family set up alive to a certain degree.
There are easier things to face in the world. Swimming with sharks comes to mind. Deactivating mines. Dentistry on an angry gorilla maybe.
What The Boy has achieved, miraculously, is two happy children who both adore him more than I can express, an Ex-Wife who doesn’t want to rip his throat out and enjoys his company, happily spending time in his new family home and around his new girlfriend, and a girlfriend who loves him so much it hurts. Somehow, despite all the challenges and emotional baggage that comes with it, The Boy has two happy families, two happy children, and two happy women. How? I don’t know. But he’s managed it.
As this set up becomes more normal, the longer it goes on for, the easier it will be. It requires maintenance and attention, like a delicate plant that can bloom into something splendid and beautiful, or wilt and die far too easily. Maintaining it might be hard work, might be challenging, but it’s worth it.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!