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  As Father’s Day in Australia approaches this weekend, I was thinking about parenthood (yay, my kids will rejoice) and more importantly what defines us as parents. 

Obviously that’s different for everyone, every parent and every family. I adored my Daddy-o, a hugging, intelligent, take no nonsense, loving parent. In a not so idyllic childhood, I’m grateful he was my dad. 
He wasn’t my biological father. He was my step dad though in our family there was a saying that the only steps in our house were those that led to the front door. He was simply, my dad. I miss him. He was a parent by every definition. 

What defines us as parents is not about DNA. It’s about love. Creating life is a biological feat carried out by many people who sadly don’t make good parents. Of course most parents do a stellar job of raising their kids. 

I have friends and family who have gone through IVF and the emotional journey of that to help them conceive and their joy is beautiful. I know people who have adopted their children and their love for, and commitment to their kids is every bit as powerful as the love and commitment I show mine. 

I have adult people in my life who were adopted in their infancy and have been raised by nurturing, caring parents. Their love for their parents, or the family challenges they experienced weren’t radically different from those raised by biological parents. Let’s face it, all families have disfunctionality, it’s just a matter of degree. 

I know many people with healthy kids, but also those who have beautiful munchkins with ongoing health issues or disabilities and friends who have gorgeous ones with autism. Being a parent sometimes means things don’t always go to the plan we envisaged. You learn to be highly adaptive. 
I have a friend raising her grandchildren because the parents simply can’t. 

I had three miscarriages. I have three biological children, and my heart stopped during my first labour, so he was delivered by c-section (as were the other two after that). I also helped to raise my son’s best friend. I would never presume to take the place of his mum who lost her fight to cancer, but I was absolutely his parent. I love him. It has nothing to do with DNA. 

Being called a parent is a gift regardless of how we came to hold the moniker. 

I love being a parent, even though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. 

It’s hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, shitty nappies and being vomited on. It’s sitting through endless Disney flicks and knowing every word to the Wiggles. It’s picking up teenagers late from parties when your 46 year old self would rather be asleep. It’s shelling out endless sums of money on food, education, clothing, make up, video games…it’s endless hours playing taxi or countless days at sporting events, school plays, dance ensembles, or band practice. It’s taking temperatures, rushing to doctor, dentist and specialist appointments, or attending parent-teacher interviews. It’s about piles and piles of washing. 

It’s nursing broken hearts, drying tears, laughing and being crazy proud at their achievements – from first steps, to talking, to starting school, to formals and learner’s permits. It’s holding their hair back after a first drinking bout (and serving them up greasy eggs and bacon the next day with a hint of glee); its boundaries and discipline, life lessons and letting go of the reins. It’s tears and tantrums mixed with joy and laughter. Did I mention piles of washing? 

I’ve watched the relationship between the Producer and the gorgeous ones grow quite organically. It’s been a fast evolution. Children, regardless of how they came to be ours, are like little aliens, entangling their little talons around your heart in such a magical fashion that you didn’t see it coming. 

My man, who had never lived with kids before, now shares a home with two teenagers, and is close to my eldest son also. I get that I’m lucky. Not every blended family is like the Brady bunch, and most of us sure don’t have a stay at home mum as well as a full time live in Nanny! Like that ever happens. Pft. Not all partners of parents are involved or interested in the children either. It’s a sad loss I think.   

 The Producer has picked the kids up late at night, he has taken trains with them to show them the route, he has slipped them canteen money, encouraged them and comforted them. He has attended endless footy matches for Mr 15 and proudly held the banner for him as he ran through on his 50th game. 

He has watched school plays, taken them to comicon, loads of movies, listened to their music and their ideas, danced with miss 17 at her debutante ball, helped with homework, given dating advice, and most importantly, embraces them for exactly who they are. They have confided in him which is testiment to that. He is engaged in their lives, and has opened his life to them, allowing them to be part of his family and to meet his friends. He has told some pretty full on dad jokes too. 

The Producer’s young niece once told my kids that she never wanted a step parent because they’re all mean, like in fairytales. Miss 17 responded that not all step parents are like that. “Look at the Producer,” she said, “he’s my step dad and he’s kind and funny, and he loves us.”

Yes. My heart did jump a little in my chest. 
So on Father’s Day, I think of my own amazing dad and what a gift it was that he was a parent to me. I’m grateful that the Producer and my kids love each other. The gorgeous ones adore him. 

My kids call the Producer by his first name which is cool (because it’s his name)  but they refer to him as their step dad when talking to others (not “mum’s boyfriend”), and have done so of their own choosing.

I take my hat off to all parents this weekend. The single ones, the partnered ones, the adoptive ones, the blended ones, the gay and straight ones. It’s a damn parent fest. While you contemplate the love, I’m off to do the washing.