Fourteen years ago, in a short ceremony on a cold and dreary Saturday afternoon, a 6’4″ Southern gentleman and I read vows that we had written to each other. Those vows bound him, his son, my daughter and me together. The witnesses were my second eldest sister, who was heavily pregnant, and my then 3½ year old daughter.
Our short ceremony was followed by a short honeymoon before we commenced life as a new family. My new husband took my daughter as if she was his, and so did his family. On no occasion did they ever make her feel like she was any less than blood. It was at his suggestion (make that insistence) that we began the homeschooling journey that has been ours since 2003.
After all these years, life without this man is simply inconceivable. He has made me such a different person than I was. When we met, I was not looking for a relationship. I had no interest in anything but raising my young daughter and surviving financially. I was hardened by a marriage that had ended, leaving me a single mother. He came into my life on a lark of mine. By the time we met, six months after talking every week on the phone (yes, the phone bills were horrific, on both sides) and emailing multiple times a day, I was already halfway in love with him. Meeting him only sealed the deal. Funny thing is, when he started talking about marriage a week or two after we first met, I was the one who was saying, “whoa!!” His whirlwind courtship of me showed me that when he wants something, he goes after it, and, more often than not, what he sets out to have, he gets.
It’s hard to say what this man has meant in my life, and in the life of my older daughter. To understand, you would have to know him, truly know him, not the façade he portrays to the general public. He is kind, and warm, and fiercely loyal to those he loves. He is principled, and stands up for the things he believes in (even if it is annoying sometimes). He has taught me that you do, indeed, “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. He makes me laugh, he holds me when I cry, and he is quick to give a (loving) kick in the rear end if I need it. Throughout the years, he has stood by me, believed in me, and pushed me to do the things I want to do. He has coached our older daughter’s soccer team, not only because he enjoyed the kids, but more because soccer gave them one more thing to bond over. Though his TV watching drives me a little crazy sometimes, seeing him watch TV with our girls reminds me of the TV shows I used to watch with my own father.
Oh – did I forget to mention? In addition to the pair of kids we brought into the marriage, we have one together – a sassy little redhead who is funny, sharp as a tack and the perfect blend of my sarcasm and his childlikeness. Well, I guess that is to be expected – she is, after all, only 5 years old. Watching him with our three children…there’s really no word to express it. He is patient, gentle, firm, loving and a great example of what a human being, a man, and a father, should be.
Life without him would not be the same, and I can truly say that I am a better woman for having him in my life.
Happy 14th Anniversary, my love. Here’s to 42 more. I love you with all my heart, and I so respect the man you are.