My fiance is 13 years my senior, which gets us a lot of criticism from outsiders. The age difference is not necessarily the issue; the issue stems from my looking much younger than I really am on top of it. I look 13, and unfortunately my poor fiance gets mistaken for my father more often than anything, so imagine the shocked, bug-eyed wonder we get when he gives me a kiss in a restaurant or slaps my bum playfully in the checkout line at the grocery store.
We love one another, and I am further blessed by his wonderful children. I get a ready-made family (I have no children of my own), and his children are the highlight of my life when we get to spend time with them. Unfortunately, this raises eyebrows as well.
My fiance has 4 children, and his oldest is 14. She is taller than me, as are 2 of his other children, and even his youngest, who is 6, is well on her way to exceeding my small frame in just a few years. I often get mistaken as a sibling of theirs by their friends and teachers, and my fiance and I will laughingly brush off the mishap while his children blush in embarrassment.
Just this last weekend, while waiting for one of the girls’ soccer games to start, I was playing on the teeter-totter with the youngest and her friends, while my fiance was playing basketball with his only son. Sure enough, one of the young tykes asked me if I was a sister of her playmate, and I pondered for a moment as to how to answer the inquiry without embarrassing yet again our young child.
Before I could even open my mouth, his youngest piped up to explain. “She looks like she’s my sister because she’s so small, but she’s not my sister. She is a parent.” I could have kissed this beautiful soul who explained who I was so eloquently in all her 6 year old glory, without even thinking about it. I was not a “grown-up”, I was not “her dad’s girlfriend,” I was matter-of-factly a PARENT, which struck me in the most heart-warming of ways.
She accepted my relationship with her father and my unfortunate small stature and youthful appearance by simply stating that while I look young, I am a parent, and intoned that the latter was not to be confused with anything else. To her, my status in her life is simply just another “parent” who gets to kiss boo-boos and make her go to bed early, not an adult who is dating her father but often mistaken for his offspring. In such a simple way, this young little gem solidified my status as an adult and authority figure in her life, which builds my confidence within our relationship all-around in my ready-made family versus society (and his ex-wife, which is a story for another day).
It feels wonderful to have these precious children accept me so freely and love me as I love them, even though I look their age. These children are perhaps the only people who have never looked at their father and I’s relationship with a certain disgust, even though they hear as often as we do the misconceptions people make about us. Instead of casting judgment on us, they choose to help correct the situation and allow me to be an authority figure, a PARENT, in their lives, regardless of my stature or appearance.
I love my ready-made family, this wonderful bunch who has accepted me so readily without judgment, even on the often occasion where my place in the family is confused and misplaced. It was the wonderful words of a young child who said it so clearly- I may be small, I may look like a child, but I am a parent. And I couldn’t be happier and more proud.