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I was one of the lucky ones – my parents got divorced before I could even remember anything and I got an amazing stepdad in my daddies place. Still to this day he has never once treated me as anything less than his daughter and he loves me unconditionally even though on many occasions I remind him of the fact that he is not my “real” dad. I still to this day refer to him but his name and nothing else.

I have always stayed true to my “real” dad always thinking that I am a real daddy’s girl through and through. I always thought on every occasion – be it a sporting or an academic event – that if my daddy could be there he would. That he could not think of anything better in this world than watching his little girl grow up. For 24 years I have had my dad on a pedestal so high up that I was blinded to everything he did or in most cases didn’t do. I spent 24 years covering for him and making excuses for everything he did, I defended him to anyone and everyone who even mentioned a bad word against him.

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It took me 24 years to realise that it was all a fantasy. That I was putting 90% of the effort into our “relationship” and every time he felt like putting in the other 10% I would feel like the most special girl in the world and the pedestal would get even higher. It took me 24 years to realise that everything I had been wishing and praying my “real” dad would do and be was actually already being done by someone else. My stepdad was at every event he could be and cheered and beamed right along with the other proud parents even though most of the events were boring enough to put even me to sleep. He helped me with all my problems no matter how trivial he might have found them; he was there for me no matter what, he has helped shape me into the person I am today with his quiet encouragements and continuous support. It took me 24 years to realise that biology doesn’t automatically make you into a parent; sometimes it’s the ones who nurture you and choose to stand with you through the good and the bad times that are the real parents.

I know my “real” dad loves me as best he knows how and probably did the best he could under the circumstances. I just think he has never realised how much love and time it really takes to have a kid. I don’t think he has ever realised that you can’t only have a kid when it fits into your schedule. I love my dad and I don’t think I will ever stop hoping that someday at some point he might start being that dad I always pretended he was, but even if that doesn’t happen I now know I will always have my other dad who always has and always will be there for me no matter what.

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So for all the step parents out there putting in all the effort and still staying in the shadows, it’s not that we don’t realise everything you do for us, it’s just if we acknowledged it we would have to realise exactly how far short our “real” parents are falling.

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