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Dear Caroline,

I’ve spent the last couple of hours thinking of a response to your concern that you are not a parent. That you don’t feel like an equal. What I’ve come up with was entirely too much to text. So I thought I’d write it here, so you can read it every time you doubt yourself.

You say that you don’t do any of the hard stuff. Yes, you do. You were upfront and honest with them about this journey you needed to take. You let them vent to you and ask why you left and you answered them as truthfully as you could. If that’s not hard, honey, I don’t know what is. You’ve had to explain why you missed holidays and birthdays. I can’t begin to imagine how hard that is.

You say that you’re not here all the time. Neither am I, babe. I work five days a week. I see them a couple of hours a day. Not nearly enough.

You don’t help financially? No? I know lots of families that receive child support and I wouldn’t consider the other person a “parent”. The way I see it, everything you and I do is for us and for them. I see us putting our money in a big pot. Right now you’re taking what you need to take care of out of that pot and so am I. Just because we don’t have a joint checking account and I’m not using your debit card to buy groceries doesn’t mean that we’re not supporting each other. Does it?

You don’t help emotionally? That’s laughable, sweetheart. How many nights have you stayed up with me and talked me off of my proverbial emotional ledge? How many times have I texted or called you when I was on edge and you calmed me down and gave me perspective? I’d call that the definition of emotional support. Because you have made me stronger, I have been a better parent myself. That’s what family is, baby. Helping me is helping them.

You do do the day to day stuff. You’re the one they want to tell goodnight. You’re the reason they scramble for the phone before school.

You know what I think? I think when he had an ear infection and was running a fever and miserable, you were the only one he wanted. I tried to get him to sit with me. He didn’t want me. You walked in the door, though, and he moved pillows and blankets and everything to curl up in your lap and watch “House”.

She wants you home for holidays. She’s determined that we pack your stocking and leave it hanging until you come home to take it down. She plans meals to cook with you when you’re visiting. She wants to wrap your presents and leave them under the tree that’s still up until you come for them.

I’ve had many people in and out of my life that were supposed to be parental figures. I didn’t feel they way they feel about you about them.

I’m not trying to overwhelm you or push them on you or ask you to take on responsibilities that you’re not ready for. I’m only trying to point out that they love you. That everything that is good and loving in a parent you already are.

They love you. I love you. We are yours.