When I joined the Navy, I didn’t think that I would be a single parent. 23 years later, I would tell anyone, if I could go back and do it all again, I would because I have an amazing son! They say it takes a “village” to raise a child, and I can tell you, that is absolutely TRUE! When I found out I was pregnant I was a young 21 year old woman, living in Newport, Rhode Island, scared out of my damn mind, wondering how the hell was I going to provide for this child, much less be a role for both Mom and Dad. Fast forward 6 years after the birth of my son and I meet the man who would be a pivotal part in my son’s life. My husband, and AMAZING Step Dad to our son. Being a step parent is truly a thankless job. These are the people that pick up the plate when someone chose to leave it behind. My husband, when I first met him, was 22 years old. What 22 year old young man decides to love and take on the role of Dad to a child that is not his, he did! Our son is now going to be 23 in just under 3 weeks and his step dad could not be more proud of the young man he has grown into. The power of a good step parent has a long and forever effect on a child, a profound one. My husband, along side of myself, helped instill good habits, of education, work ethics, family and religious values. He would advise our son on how a man treats a woman, how a true man is responsible for his actions and how those actions effect those who surround him. When our son went off to Marine Corp bootcamp, it was then our son realized everything his Dad taught him, how much he loved and appreciated everything his Dad did for him, the sacrifices he has made to provide him with this amazing future, it seems as though the simple “thank you” was not enough. As parents, while we spend those precious 18 years of our child’s life raising and nurturing them and in those early years, we do not truly know how much our children love and value us, till they are challenged in their life to meet their goals and become successful. As a step parent, it is even greater a reward when that child you chose to help raise tells you in their own words how much you mean to them, when they lacked that nurturing from their own blood. There is a saying, “blood is thicker than water”, that is not true for a dedicated, loving step parent, the water is thicker then the blood. So to all my fellow step parents, moms and dads, if you have picked up that plate and ran with it, helped provide a future for your child, thank you and I salute you.