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To All the "Dad's Girlfriend"s this Mother's Day...

You’re “Dad’s Girlfriend.” I see you.

I’m not out to start any who-has-it-harder wars, but I’d put money on the idea that “Dad’s Girlfriend” is one of the least recognized mom-ish spots to be in. I know from experience - I was “Dad’s Girlfriend” for two years to one fiery 4-6 year-old girl.

So I see you, Dad’s Girlfriend. I know you’re the one who makes sure the Easter basket is full when it’s Dad’s turn for the holiday. You pick up new size 5 leggings at Target because you know the ones from last year are getting too small. You pack crayons in your purse because that restaurant doesn’t have any, hell, maybe a coloring book, too. You make a child’s plate at Thanksgiving before your own, and you grab a beer for Dad while you’re at it. You buy bubbles and chalk and help pick out the new bike. You think that birthday party planned itself? You take your turn reading the bedtime book and you make sure there’s always the right vitamins in the house. And when that dumb fever has been 102 for 3 days, you snuggle that child in a way women seem to be particularly good at.

Sounds kinda like a mom, right?

And while you know the teacher’s name, what you’re signed up for to bring for the Valentine party, and what behavior color the kiddo got that day, you’re not on the emails. Your parenting input and support is welcomed… except when it’s not. Because, well, “You’re not the mom.” You know limits and boundaries and gray areas and love tug-of-wars. You know the backlash of involvement, the sting of resentment, and the frustration of just trying to figure it out when there are no books or blogs or TED Talks about this particular subject. You’re like a mom, but with an asterisk.

You do it knowing the risks. You do it understanding what is at stake. You fight harder for your relationship because you know if it doesn’t work out, you don’t lose just your partner that you’ve loved, but also the kids and your “family.” You do it knowing that in a heartbeat Dad could find someone else and the little person you’ve grown to love could be getting ice cream with the new girlfriend in three weeks. Poof. You know you are replaceable.

But you do it anyway.

Why?

Love.

Love is just downright crazy and this love - a mothering love - well, it’s insanely adaptable. There’s nothing more motherly than loving a child wholeheartedly, despite all the sacrifices and heartaches. It’s wild how you can love a man and the children he created with someone else so much your heart could burst. How easy it is to feel pride and excitement and worry for a child you didn’t birth. Moms: If you’re lucky in this situation, your child is being loved-like-their-own by another woman when you’re not there. Don’t let that scare you. She isn’t out to take your place - that’s impossible and never crosses her mind. She is trying her hardest to navigate the Mom* world, too. Dads: I don’t need to tell you. You see it every single day. Just don’t forget to recognize her efforts and celebrate the love she has for your children on this Mother’s Day and every day in between.

Happy Mother’s* Day, girl. I see you. Keep it up.

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