Real Life Mama: Dad, bonus dad give girls best of two worlds

Father’s Day. A few years ago, I had no idea how this day would go with my girls when I was no longer married to their dad. I mean, sure, he was always going to be their daddy! I just didn’t know – well, I didn’t know so many things back then. And I certainly didn’t expect to be here one day – celebrating two men in the lives of my girls who are absolutely phenomenal fathers to them.

They really are the luckiest – my girls – getting loved on and raised by two men who are so amazing to them. Although I like to think that these two guys are the luckiest as well – getting to share in the lives of these baby girls. There are very few days that go by that these girls do not get to see both their dad, Paul, and their bonus dad, Lee.

Paul is involved daily – whether it is juggling babysitter runs or sports schedules – he is always there helping out. And, one thing I am so super proud of, is our ability to always put these girls first. For years now, it has never been a competition – if one of the kids want to stay at the other parent’s house, then we make it happen. There are no set days or rules on who has the girls! It is just whatever the girls are feeling or whatever works for that day.

Now, there are some limits, right? Like if one kid is mad because they made poor choices and one of us disciplined them, they are not going to run to the other just to get away. Paul and I communicate and stick by each other when it comes to those things. Again, we both want to raise these babies into amazing human beings – and there is no better way than to collaborate and have both of us fully involved in their lives.

Which brings me to Lee – bonus dad of the year – who is ever present in not only his babies’ lives, but also in the daily lives of my girls. There are no favorites – in fact, from the outside looking in you would probably have no idea which kids were biologically his and which ones he was blessed with.

While Paul is into relaxing with the girls and watching a movie, Lee is completely opposite – he is hands-on and active. Don’t get me wrong, Paul will throw the football and rebound the basketball, and Lee likes to soak up the snuggles as well – but the personality differences between the two allows for my girls to literally have the best of both worlds.

And no matter what they have going on, both guys are always there – dance competition an hour away – Paul and Lee are there. Basketball tournament in Columbus, both of them are on the sidelines cheering them on. And that makes my girls feel so incredibly loved.

Which, I will be honest, was one of the scariest parts of Paul’s and my divorce – will my babies ever feel whole again? Will they always feel divided? I never in a million years expected that no, they wouldn’t feel whole. Instead, they would feel way more than whole – they get all of their dad and then a whole other father who loves them as well.

They aren’t divided babies – they are multiplied in love. They get two guys passing out hugs, cheering them on, helping them with spelling words and correcting their mistakes (ok, maybe they don’t love that part ha!) But they get two strong, caring and involved men in their lives to help them grow. And as a Mama, I am not sure that I could ask for anything better for my babies.

So here’s two these two men in our lives – Paul and Lee – because I am sure it is not easy in their shoes all of the time. Watching another man parent your kid or feeling like you’re not “really” their dad – both can be awful feelings. But these two, they don’t ever let that show! They just continually show up for these girls. And that, to me, is what makes them such selfless and amazing fathers.

Well, that and all the many things that they both do for these kids all the time! Not only are these two baby girls completely loved, but Lee is also involved in the same way with his other 5 kids as well (I could write a whole book about that)! There is not a baby around us that doesn’t get a full dose of an extraordinary, present dad in their lives.

And there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank the good Lord for placing His hand on all of this – allowing all of our babies to grow up feeling a father’s – and bonus father’s- love.

Thank you, Lee and Paul, for being the best dads around. Happy Father’s Day!

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mom and bonus mom. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Lee Parsons, and their seven kids.