A few weeks ago we’d been at the grocery store. As we checked out Madi chatted with the cashier, babbling on about her imaginary friends and all the things we were going to do this weekend. Madi asked the cashier why she was putting all our groceries into bags.
Because your mommy and daddy are buying them to take them home.
“He’s not my daddy, he’s my Zachary,” she informs the woman.
I’m sure the cashier was confused, her awkward smile was uncomfortable as she handed me my receipt. I smiled back to let her know she wasn’t somehow in trouble of violating some unspoken rule about interpersonal communications within blended families.
That night after groceries were put away and dinner was bubbling on the stove, Zachary got down on his knees in front of Madi.
“You know when mommy and I are out with you, sometimes people are going to call me your daddy. But I want you to tell them that I’m not your daddy. I like it when you tell people I’m your Zachary instead. You’re a pretty lucky little girl who gets to have a daddy and a Zachary and I want you to be proud of your daddy. So it’s not going to hurt my feelings when you tell people I’m your Zachary, ok pumpkin?”
She nodded and hugged him and then bounded off to play. Sometimes our children cannot stand the seriousness of our conversations.
I walked over to the stove.
“It really doesn’t bother you?”
“No, I meant what I said. I want her to be proud of her dad.”
He smiles at me and I fight back the tears.
Sometimes I secretly wish that Madi will begin calling Zachary her dad. I don’t want to strip her real dad of his role, it’s simply that I long for her to love and appreciate my husband as much as I do.
But he’s right; I want her to be proud of her dad. I want her to correct people and say it with confidence. I don’t want her to be ashamed to tell people that she has two dads because her mom and first dad didn’t work out. I want her to understand the gift she’s been giving in having two fathers; two to love, protect and teach her.
And it is a gift, a beautiful thing out of the dust. The promise I felt God give me when I was single and afraid, when I was certain I’d never find someone I’d trust to be a second father to my daughter.
God didn’t give me what I wanted then, I had to wait and learn and grow, and then God gave me what I needed, what Madi needed.