Alysse is my step-daughter. In recent years, I have started to choke on the word “step”. To me, its a word that separates a person from the “normal” family situation. If I say someone is my daughter, that comes with certain expectations of love, loyalty and support. Now, when I say that a person is my step-daughter, those expectations are somewhat diminished. It’s understood that I won’t love her quite as much as my biological children. It’s also expected that she shouldn’t love me as much as her biological dad. There will always be a line of love and devotion there that, everyone seems to agree, will never be crossed. At the very least, difficult to cross. I have to admit that personally, it was very hard to let anyone into my heart as much as my biological children. I felt that, if I loved anyone as much as them, I would be betraying them somehow. So, I kept my distance. Alysse, on the other hand, didn’t have these hang ups. She was around 7 years old when her mom and I got married and, like many children, had no barriers to the free flow of love. She accepted me into her heart quickly and also accepted the clunkiness that was my balancing act of carefully measured love that I was trying to give. I knew she was allowing herself to love more than I was but I just wrote that off to the ignorance of children. She just didn’t know that she SHOULD love me less.
Over the years, I have learned that there is no official rule book that defines how much you can or should love someone. Parents get this much. Children get that much. Love is infinite and is therefore immeasurable. The ONLY limitation to the amount of love we share exists in our own minds. To test this theory, I simply started to let myself love. Love by choice, not by the random circumstance of relationship. On the contrary, I can love people I haven’t even met. I can love who I want, as much as I want. Interestingly, the side effect is the experience of more love in my life.
The uncommon love of a young lady that I now simply refer to as my daughter helped me to realize that. Thank you, Alysse. I love you, too.