Thursday, May 25, 2006

And Not For Most First

Being a stepfather I missed out on a lot of the good stuff.

Lisa, the youngest of our three children, was seven-years-old when Amy and I met, and a few days shy of nine by the time we got married.

That means I missed out on many "firsts" - first steps, first words, first haircuts, the very first day of school, and so many other "firsts" that simply trying to think about all of them and what they must have been like allows an unwanted door to melancholia entry into my heart.

So for a lot of those "firsts" I have to rely on the stories of Amy and others. That's fine, shared memories have a value too...especially when they're revisited in front of the children producing new moments of embarrassment to cherish.

I do have regrets about missing out on those early developmental moments and thus lack an arsenal of my own stories with which to mortify our children. I mean it's unfair since, believe me, our kids are well armed with degrading tales about my feeble attempts at parenthood.

Honestly, during the years I have been part of their lives, our children have blessed me in so many ways that my spirit overflows with gratitude to God for His astounding generosity. I have a bountiful harvest of memories of which He has allowed me to be part forever etched upon my undeserving heart.

Admittedly, it hasn't escaped my awareness that missing out on those early years also entitled me to take a "pass" on a variety of other experiences which many parents do not look back upon with quite the same fondness and more than a few take medications in an attempt to entirely blot them out of their minds.

Yes, I dodged diaper duty - pardon the pun. I never got the chance to entrench myself in the terrible twos...although I'd argue surviving the "frustrating fourteens" is an often overlooked period of parenting that at least deserves an honorable mention. Lice invasions...I averted lithely. The same can be said of rear-end ring worm, Wal-Mart induced temper tantrums, and the completely unfathomable concept of attempting to potty-train anyone.

Amy might in fact argue - with the evidence on her side or at least the side of the commode - that when my inherent laziness combines with the dark of night and a lack of sleep, I would not only be disqualified from potty-training instruction, I might very well be conscripted for a refresher course.

Mercifully discussing such subtleties this evening was not my I'll let that rabbit trail go untread and quickly attempt to re-target my thoughts.

When I started down this mental tangent my intent was to point out that although I missed out on a lot with our kids because they weren't "our" kids when they were little, I have come to term with it over the years.

Now...enter Emily.

Suddenly, this little girl with big brown eyes is gently sliding into our lives...and our hearts.

And her world is still full of "firsts" to savor.

How long Emily and her parents will be sharing our home is up in the air. We have no time table; we'll let God dictate that as always.

I will hasten to declare that Amy and I are in no hurry whatsoever. We're loving this arrangement. Amy is at least temporarily getting the grandchild she's yet to convince our children to desire and I'll confess I'm marveling at the chance to observe Emily discover more of the world each day.

No, I promise I'm not going to miss out on this story...

It's a "first" for me.