My daughter, Kat, was not quite five when I married my husband, Rob. He and I will be married three years soon. They have known each other longer than Kat knew her biological father, who died when she was just three. In terms of influence my second husband is really the only father Kat has ever known, and it shows because she is completely his little girl.
Recently, Kat has discarded with the need to address Rob as anything but "Daddy". In the beginning he was "Rob" and then he was "Rob" but she referred to him as "Daddy". Now it's just Daddy.
It amazed me always how like my late husband Kat was in manner though she never knew him at all due to his illness, but I am equally astounded at how much she is like Rob and with her eagerness to emulate him. Sometimes, as I watch and listen to her, I wonder where my influence is.
Kat was no small consideration in my decision to pursue a marriage - minded relationship with Rob. Later his daughters confirmed for me what I was already fairly certain of when we began dating- that Rob was a great father. I wanted Kat to have a great father.
Rob's influence on Kat is reminiscent of what I observed about my step-daughters when I was getting to know them. They are thoughtful, opinionated and passionate. They are firm in their beliefs about what is right and wrong. They listen before respectfully disagreeing. And their dad is their directional beacon and chief measuring stick in the world.
The world of single mothers cautions mightily about remarrying. Certainly one doesn't remarry for the children. That's "un-feminist", but I knew I was not single mother material, and I wanted to remarry for me as much as for Kat. Fathering ability was certainly right up there with smart, sexy and soul-matey when I began to date again.
Perhaps it will get old and one day lose it's power to fill my soul with awe, but I love to watch Kat and Rob interact. The way she sits and listens when he launches into a Wikipedia worthy explanation of something at the supper table or quietly sweeps up his wood-working shop while he is working on a project. I will sometimes find things to occupy myself with in our bedroom, so I can listen to him read to her before bed. He reads as though she were an audience of a thousand, and she leans against him, alternately between rapt attention and peals of giggles.
Just the other, I was assuring a Facebook acquaintance that her desire to remarry based somewhat on her desire to give her child a father was not wrong, weak or silly. I look at my daughter and know this for a fact. There are worse reasons for re-coupling than building a life with someone who is as good for your child as they are for you. There are even worse reasons for dating again at all. Our children do count for something in the equation. What is best for us is often what is best for them too.