We recently went out to dinner when something amazing happened. Sam left half his sweet and sour chicken on his plate. No sooner had the words “I’m full” come out of his mouth than Jeremy reached over, grabbed a piece of chicken, and popped it in his mouth.
This would have been perfectly normal in a lot of families.
But we’re a step family.
It happened so quickly, and so naturally, that maybe no one else even noticed. But I definitely did. For our family it’s kind of a big deal, because Jeremy is the step dad and (even though it seems like he’s always been around) in actually he hasn’t even been in our lives 2 years yet.
But the fact that things are this comfortable between us all is HUGE.
I was raised by a single mother, and I can tell you right now that if any of her boyfriends had ever eaten my leftovers, that would’ve felt supremely weird. And since she didn’t remarry until I was 30, I never had to get used to the idea of having a stepdad around. But I imagine it’s hard.
So whenever I see Jeremy with my boys, I want to pinch myself, because they make that whole bonding-with-stepdad thing look effortless. Tonight we went out to buy a new keyboard for John’s computer, and on the way home, I was serenaded by all three of them singing show tunes from Avenue Q and SpongeBob and The Book of Mormon on the way home. In my wildest dreams, that was never how my fantasy remarriage looked like, but every day I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.
The funny thing is, I’m not sure Jeremy and I would have figured any of “us” out had it not been for the boys.
We’d gone on one date, and if I’m honest, I was ambivalent about the whole thing. Jeremy seemed nice enough, but we’re both shy, socially awkward introverts, and first dates are not exactly where we shine. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole date just trying to maintain eye contact and look engaged even though I was disassociating through most of it (as I’m want to do when get-to-know-you small talk gets too tedious). I assumed, like so many first dates before him, I’d never hear from him again.
But he kept texting me. So I kept texting him. And I asked him if he planned to go to the family picnic the Facebook singles group we belonged to was planning for 4th of July. He said he’d go if I was going, so we met up there. Only this time, I had the boys with me.
Again, if I’m honest, I was still super blah about the whole thing. In my mind this was NOT a date. But the boys really seemed to like him. When he heard them complaining that the party was boring and that they’d rather see a movie, he invited us to all go see a movie together, which impressed the boys immensely. On the way home in the car, they went on and on and on and on and on and on and on about the awesomeness that was Jeremy. Sam said I needed to marry him and make this guy their stepfather, preferably as soon as possible. I did not get it. But I trust dogs and children. And Archie, my dog, had already laid claim to Jeremy.
I talked about that here.
From the moment Archie met Jeremy, he made it quite clear that Jeremy was the greatest human alive. He said to me, in no uncertain doggie terms, “Thanks for springing me from the shelter. Thanks for feeding me, and walking me, and giving up 2/3 of your bed to me for the last two years. But now that Jeremy is here, I’m going to pretend I don’t know you, and try to wedge myself between the two of you at every opportunity because Jeremy is MY human, not yours.”
With the boys jumping on board the We Love Jeremy fan club, I stuck it out, and here we are. (It didn’t take me long to figure out what everyone else saw in him so readily. It just took me longer.)
But again, if the boys hadn’t brought up marriage and continued insisting that they wanted a Jeremy stepfather and not a Jeremy mom’s boyfriend we would probably still be living together and probably less likely to make it official. But here we are, five months in, and I’ve truly never been happier. A big part of what makes me so happy is seeing the relationship that Jeremy had created with the boys, and how happy they are around him.
He’s not trying to be their dad. He’s not trying to be their friend. He’s more their bonus parent–an additional adult who has got their back in life. An adult who expands their world, and shows them one more example of how to be a good man and good father. We’re all really lucky to have him.