It happened again.
Henry and I were in line at Noodles and we began chatting with an older gentlemen in front of us about one thing and another. The man asked Henry if he was a Packer fan. Henry stared at him blankly and shook his head slowly. I quickly explained that we weren't against the Packers or anything (I didn't want things to get ugly right there at the neighborhood Noodles), but that we just weren't a football family.
The man nodded and smiled like you would to a crazy person on the street singing show tunes at the top of their lungs and dragging on the stub of a cigarette.
"My step-dad is a Packer fan, he watches football," Henry chimed in, noticing the uncomfortable silence.
And that was when it happened. I got the look, the "Oh, I see" look.
Real or imagined, I can't be sure, but it is distinctly different from the "Oh, I understand" look.
After Bob died it took me about one week to discover that there was much more sympathy for a widowed person than a divorced person in our society. Divorce implies choice. And I will admit I was not above playing the widow card from time to time if it meant a little more assistance in a time of need.
Why do I bristle at the word step-dad? My boys don't. I find myself wanting people to know why they have one. As if to say; "This wasn't what I wanted, this wasn't my plan, this wasn't my fault."
I doubt anyone who has children goes into it wanting them to have a step-dad. I don't believe prospective parents sit around planning this outcome.
"OK, here is the plan. I have always wanted my kids to have a step-dad, so we should have a few kids and then we will get divorced and then you can get remarried so our kids can have a step-dad. Or this, we can have a few kids and I can get sick and die and then you can get remarried and they can have a step-dad. That would be great!"
I don't think so.
For whatever reason many children end up with a step-parent, it is not shameful. I never planned on it, I never wanted it. This was not my dream for my children.
But I am extremely grateful they do have a step-dad, especially one that likes my boys and likes Bob's family and honors Bob's memory and his continued importance in our life. The next time the subject comes up I will use the word with pride, just as Henry and Arthur do. No explanation needed.
Thanks for checking in-