Today I am going to answer the question I have been asked the most over the past 12 years. What is the key to Mark and Kendall's relationship? I mean, people don't actually phrase it like that. More like, "Wow, have they always had a good relationship?" or "How did you get him to do so much for her?" or "That's not Mark's real daughter? I would have never known."
My daughter, Kendall, is almost 16 years old (ugh, I can't believe I just wrote that). Mark and I have been married a little over 10 years, and dated for 2 years before that. Kendall does not remember life without Mark in it. Before I get started let me clarify; Kendall is blessed to have a "real" Dad in her life, too, as well as an adorable little brother, amazing grandparents and great-grandparents, supportive aunts and uncles, and lots of fun-loving cousins on that side of her family. They play a huge role in her life and I am incredibly thankful for them. Mark does not try to be her dad. She already has one, but I feel like the more people you can have in your child's life to love on them, the better off your child will be. Can I get an Amen?
From the first time Mark and Kendall met they have had a connection. I didn't have to teach him how to buckle her in the car seat. He learned on his own, because he wanted to be involved. When he came into my life, he came into Kendall's. We're a package deal. She's not baggage; she's my heart and soul.
Just for fun, I came up with the Seven Steps Mark took to become a Successful Step Parent. It's **EMportant to note, I am not a step parent, so these are just my opinions based on my observations of how perfectly my husband accomplishes this daily.
Step 1: Spend Quality Time Together
Mark and I got married right before Kendall began Kindergarten. A few weeks into Kindergarten, Kendall developed a habit of getting her color changed on Fridays. Kendall is usually a well behaved child, but I think she just couldn't contain her excitement for the weekend; so every Friday she came home with a little note that she had been "warned" of excessive talking. Mark and I came up with a plan. She absolutely loved Mark's truck, so if she stayed on green the whole day on Friday (Side note: Kendall went to half-day Kindergarten, so the whole, half-day. Do you follow that math?) her and Mark would go on a Frosty Date to Wendy's in his truck. She was over-the-top excited! Sure enough, it worked! After school she proudly exclaimed that she had stayed on green all day (the whole, half-day). I was so proud, until her teacher told me secretly, Kendall actually needed her color changed, but she had told her teacher about the special date night with Mark, and the teacher could not bear to break her little heart. Whether you're a step parent, a real parent, or a grandparent; kids love special one-on-one bonding time.
Step 2: Bend The Rules Occasionally
I am not adventurous. I wish I was, but I'm not. Thankfully we have Mark in our lives to encourage us to be adventurous. Crazy things like white water rafting and parallel parking (parallel parking with Kendall driving is an adventure y'all). Occasionally he even takes her for ice cream at ten o'clock at night. I draw the line there. You're a step parent, not a grandparent, Mark.
Step 3: Laugh
Mark and Kendall have always had their little inside jokes. They love to make fun of yours truly and watch those cheesy comedy movies that I just don't get. I'm thankful that Mark doesn't take himself too seriously.
Step 4: Take On Their Responsibilities
Mark is the definition of a hands on parent. That guy has cleaned up puke, stayed up late studying for Biology tests, spent a weekend
making helping make an Alamo project, driven across the state for volleyball and color guard performances and MY favorite, driven Kendall to school almost every morning of our marriage. She loves him because she knows she can count on him.
Step 5: Love Them As Your Own
As easy as this sounds, I am sure it is not. That's why not all of us are meant to be step-parents. I know Mark loves Kendall because he wants what is best for her. Somedays that means disciplining her. Somedays that means hugging her. Somedays that means pulling me to the side to tell me I've been too hard on her. But, everyday that means praying for her, accepting her and being proud of her. To this day, one of my proudest mom moments was the day she was baptized. All of Kendall's family was there; my family, Mark's family, her Dad's family, and as I looked teary eyed up at the baptistery where my little girl was, I glanced beside me to see a little tear in Mark's eye, too. He took ownership in the moment, because he knew he had a part in that decision.
Step 6: Family Matters
Not only has Mark loved Kendall since first sight; his family has, too. Did I hit the jackpot or what? As a single mom, I use to worry that I might find a great guy, but would his parents be accepting of me AND Kendall? I am so thankful that Mark's parents love Kendall as their own, too. They show up and support her and encourage her in all her activities. Like I said previously, the more people to love my child, the better.
Step 7: Love Her Mom
I have always said, I hope Kendall and Jentry find a man just like Mark when they grow up; and I hope Jess becomes a man just like Mark. Mark is modeling how a husband should treat a wife, and I hope Kendall sees this and expects nothing less. Are we perfect? Absolutely not, but marriage is not about perfection. It's about loving each other, forgiving each other, and striving to be your best each day.
I hope when Kendall is all grown up with her own family, she looks back on her time in our home fondly. I hope she remembers the laughs, the snuggles, the vacations; and I hope she realizes it was possible because Mark took a chance on a single mom with a beautiful, blue eyed little girl that completely stole his heart.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to see what I have to say!