That Man This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I was nine years old in a white lacy dress, walking down the aisle of our church with a basket of flowers the first time I knew he would be my “new dad” forever. I hated him. I didn’t want him to take the place of Daddy.

My mom had gotten divorced when I was two and my daddy moved away and wasn’t very involved in raising me. It was mostly my mom, and this new man. He was fun, and we would go to his house to play with his son. I thought he was great.

Then my mom sat us down one night and told us they were getting married. She asked what we thought and of course I told her I thought it would be fun to have another brother. But really I was furious: I couldn’t believe she would do this to me.

I spent the first few years wishing I could go and live with my real daddy. He was perfect, and I thought he hung the moon and scattered the stars. It wasn’t until I was 12 that I realized just how “perfect” he really was.

Two years in a row he promised to buy me a ticket to see him, and two years in a row I got my hopes up only to hear “I love you to death, but I think you should spend the time with your mom,” followed by “Next year, I promise!” From then on my relationship with Dad consisted of empty promises and broken hearts.

I began to realize that as much as I had hated that new man in the beginning, I loved and respected him now. He had shown me unconditional love when all I had known from a father was conditional love in a conditional relationship. I remember a card he sent with me when he couldn’t go to one of my meets. It told me to have fun and wished me good luck. When he said, “You’ll always be a star in my eyes,” it didn’t mean as much then as it does now.

My “real” daddy was only involved when it was convenient for him, but this man, whom I had once hated, was always there no matter how inconvenient. I don’t always show it but I have more respect for that man who helped my mom raise me than I ever would have thought.

I still love my daddy, that will never change, but he has missed so much of my life. My first gymnastics meet, approving my first boyfriend, pictures with me at my first formal dance, and so much more that this man has experienced.

I talk to my daddy every two or three weeks and visit him when he buys me a plane ticket, but other than that, he’s not really there when I need him. He tries to raise me over the phone and run my life from across the country. It’s like he doesn’t trust that I’ll be raised right by the two people who have always been there for me.

There’s never an end to one thing without something else beginning. I saw my mom walk down the aisle and knew that I would have to live with this man who was standing there waiting for her. There was a big candle we all lit with each of our candles. It was like us all becoming one. I knew that when it wouldn’t light, it meant something, that it wouldn’t last.

It didn’t last the way it was. My relationship with that man was rocky in the beginning, but I learned I could change and be happy for others. I was terrified and mad for a while but now I am genuinely happy. I became closer to that man who has always been around, and even though we don’t always get along, I trust, love and respect him. I honestly don’t know how my life would have turned out if he hadn’t come along.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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