Genetic Connection Not Required
My husband is technically Callister's step-granddad, but their strong bond makes it easy to forget they're not biologically related.
Aww, so sweet, Callister’s eyes are the same beautiful blue color as Steve’s. As I was gazing at my sweet grandson’s face, thinking about familial resemblances, it took a few seconds for the reality to hit me–my husband and my grandson are not biologically related. He did not inherit any of his physical characteristics from Steve even though appearances might seem to contradict that fact. Sometimes I honestly forget, if only for a brief second, that Steve is not biologically connected to my children or grandchild. He is a step-grandparent.
I married Steve when my children were eleven and twelve, and although he had never had children, he adapted to the role of parent very quickly and smoothly. We never used the “step” term, but we also didn’t force the girls to call him anything parental-like. They found their own affectionate nicknames for him, the main one playing off his name and the perception of stepparents- “Evil.” Imagine their friends’ surprised faces when their cell phones would light up with Evil calling! We were one of the fortunate stepfamilies that didn’t face many problems with the blending of Steve into our family. Witnessing Steve’s love and devotion to my daughters convinced me that love doesn’t have to contain a biological connection. They truly became “our” daughters, and his only regret was being late to the game and missing the early years. When they went to college he was sad, saying he didn’t get enough parenting time.
Now he is getting a chance to be a part of a child’s early years; the stages he missed with the girls he can now experience with his grandson. With our grandson, Steve changed his first diaper, learned how to burp a baby, how to support a newborn’s head and techniques to convince an overly tired baby it’s time to sleep. Watching Steve parent our daughters made me love him more, and now, witnessing the bond between him and our grandson, my heart melts. They may not share any DNA but they already, three months into this grandparenting gig, have a vital connection. Our grandbaby won’t inherit Steve’s beautiful blue eyes, his mathematical aptitude or athleticism, but what he will get from Steve is his most valuable asset, a heart full of unconditional love. Does Callister care that the man that comes to visit and holds him gently, talking to him about everything, isn’t his genetic grandfather? Of course not; he does know that he is loved and cherished. Recently, after a visit to see our grandson, Steve said, “I expected to love our grandchild, but I never knew I would be so totally smitten.” That sentence captures our experience as grandparents and makes me fall in love with Steve a little bit more.
Callister has more grandparents than most kids, but it’s a good thing. My daughter says that even now, at three months, he has come to expect a visit from one of the grands every day. Having lots of loving, invested people in his life can only be beneficial for him and his parents. They have a strong support system and will probably never lack a babysitter. I predict he’ll have a full audience at whatever he chooses to do—whether it’s sporting events, plays or spelling bees. There will be a large cheering section made up of his team of grandparents, biological and steps. Sorting through the tangles of relations may seem a little confusing, but having lots of people that love and support you is a wonderful gift—a genetic connection not required!