A let­ter to... my step­son

The Guardian - Weekend - - Family -

It may sound cliched, but I have loved you from the word go. When you pre­sented me with a pic­ture you’d drawn for me be­fore we even met, and then slipped your hand in mine as we wan­dered around the su­per­mar­ket later that day, I felt that my heart would burst.

Re­gard­less of the fact that you were only five, I was so ner­vous about meet­ing you. But I needn’t have wor­ried. You are funny, sen­si­tive and so lov­ing – I can’t wait to see the man you’ll grow up to be. With your daddy as a role model, you’ll be one of the good ones.

That’s not to say be­ing your step­mummy isn’t with­out its chal­lenges. Two years in, and

I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out your mummy, and her re­la­tion­ship with your daddy. I know I will hear only one side of the story, but her ap­par­ent am­biva­lence about meet­ing me be­fore I met you will al­ways be a source of puz­zle­ment to me: if you were my bi­o­log­i­cal son, I would have wanted to meet Daddy’s new part­ner be­fore you did.

She’s of­ten self­ish, chang­ing plans at the last minute to min­imise your daddy’s time with you. I can see how much these sud­den changes af­fect him, even though he puts on a brave face.

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween them doesn’t ap­pear to be pri­ori­tised – some­thing I find in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing. And while I will en­deav­our never to crit­i­cise your mummy within your earshot, she doesn’t have the same stan­dards – and your daddy isn’t fast to cor­rect her on my be­half. His gen­tle, quickto-for­get na­ture is en­dear­ing; but in these mat­ters it feels hurt­ful.

De­spite all this – and all the chal­lenges I have no doubt are to come – I will al­ways be here for you. I love bak­ing your favourite choco­late cake, mess­ing around in the park and read­ing bed­time sto­ries with you. And all the other frus­tra­tions melt away when you tell me you love me, or in­ter­rupt your Lego-build­ing to give me an un­ex­pected kiss and squeeze.

See­ing how in­tently you watched as your daddy and I re­cently ex­changed our wed­ding prom­ises fur­thered my re­solve to show you by ex­am­ple what a healthy and lov­ing re­la­tion­ship looks like. But there was one prom­ise I didn’t voice that day – a prom­ise to you: I will never try to re­place your mummy, but

I will en­deav­our to care for you – as though you’re my own Lit­tle Man for the rest of my life

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