Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I Love Being a "Dad" -- and Soon a "Step Dad" Too!

I'm two weeks away from watching my youngest child graduate from high school. As that time approaches, I've found myself thinking back over the past 25 years of parenthood. Having four children, ages 18, 20, 23 and 25, has me realizing that I am indeed every year, month, day and hour of 53 years of age. No, I don't "feel" that old, but I cannot deny that there is more sand that has slipped through life's hourglass than remains at the top. There are those who approach their mid-50's with dread -- digging in their heels to try and stay away from another birthday cake that burns like a torch. Not me! I'm embracing my 50's and have truly enjoyed being a parent for nearly half of my life.

For many years I wondered what life would become for me... a divorced father. Today, I am actually happier than I ever imagined I could be. I've been engaged to my beautiful fiancé, Kelley, since November 2016 and we'll be married soon. She too has four children, ages 10, 13, 20 and 21. So, between us we have 8 children, six of whom are adults. Just like the 1970's TV sitcom "Eight is Enough," eight is indeed enough... but eight is also great! Kelley and I have both been greatly blessed as parents in life.

I've been a "Dad" for 25 years, and soon I'll officially be a "Step-Dad." I can't wait! Following our wedding, Kelley, and her two youngest daughters, will be living with me in a new home recently purchased. In five short years one will be off to college, and in 8 years we'll have an empty nest. By then, I'll be 61 years of age and family gatherings of children and grandchildren will be so very special.

I'm so proud of all that my four children have accomplished so far on life's path. My eldest, Jenna, is an elementary teacher and volleyball coach. My daughter, Ashlin, is employed at a Neuropsychological practice. My eldest son, Kyler, is working towards his degree in audio production and engineering. And, my son Brian will be graduating from high school in two weeks and embarking on his adult life.

Yes, I'll soon be a Step Dad. It's one thing to fall in love with an amazing woman and want to spend the rest of life with her, but to also fall in love with her children is completely indescribable. Kelley's two eldest children are adults and I would describe my relationship with them as more of a "friend" than a "Step Dad" figure. However, when it comes to Kelley's two youngest daughters, I definitely am in the Step Dad role -- and I love it. There's not a pre-defined job description for the role of Step Dad and over the years I've aimed to be a friend, listener, encourager, example, and someone who is trustworthy and can be relied upon. Soon, Kelley and I will be married and my role as a step parent will be 24/7. It's important to me that my own children know that my becoming a Step Dad in no way takes away from my role of being their Dad. I will be both, and I plan to embrace both roles.

The sands in life's hourglass don't fall faster the older you get. However, as you realize that more sand is in the bottom of the hourglass than in the top, you find that moments are more precious and that life shouldn't be taken for granted. I'm blessed beyond measure at this point in my life, and am so thankful.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso