Making the Choice to Love When You Don't Have To
Our Blended Family
Your Past Does Not Define You
About 20 years ago, I was at a place in my life I never dreamed I would be. A horrible place. Somewhere no woman or mother should ever be. I never thought I would be at this place, but there I was, broken and defeated, freshly out of an abusive relationship.
I wasn't sure where I was going, but I knew where I wasn't. I would not go back to the person I was, cowering in the corner of my bathroom. Spending way too much money on make up to cover the bruises. I was free from the torment of control, yet so lost.
Then he came along.
I still remember the first time we met. It was at a happy hour for a co-worker. We gathered at a dimly lit bar close to my job. I was going merely to toast my work partner a happy birthday. I was not looking for a man and certainly wasn't looking for a relationship. But it happened, fate had her way with me and I did not know it instantly, but that night, over a game of pool, I had met my future husband and life partner.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we met a few times for lunch and spoke on the phone often. I was fearful to tell him I had five children. My mind had already played out the conversation and I had pictured him making an exit as quickly as possible. However, when I was finally brave enough to confess all those car seats in the back of my van were for my kids, it was actually quite the opposite. One would have thought I told him the sky was blue. How much baggage I came with had absolutely no effect on him. He was not only willing to love and accept the shattered woman I had become, but also embraced the task of heading an instant family.
And So Our Journey Began
My children were all so young then. The oldest at ten and the youngest at nine months and still in diapers.
Although their ages wouldn't have mattered. It was not of any importance to him. He loved me enough to love all of my children and he was devoted to us all.
I was freshly divorced, and he had just moved to the City so neither of us had much money, but we were determined to make it work.
After a few months we moved in together. All seven of us cramped into a one bedroom apartment, which is all we could afford. Our living room furniture consisted of a few $5.00 lawn chairs. The baby slept with us and the other kids turned the dinning room into a make shift bedroom. It was heaven, compared to the hell we left behind.
I can vividly remember the baby being sick once and this man, who had no biological relation to him, getting up in the middle of the night to give him medicine, and not only putting him in the bathtub to cool his fever, but getting in it with him, to comfort him.
He would get up for the the nightly diaper changes and feedings and tell me "I got it, go back to sleep".
We drove an old Mercury Cougar, although he would take the city bus most days, so I would have the car to get the kids to school and myself to work. We would "knock wood" before we left anywhere hoping it wouldn't break down along the way.
Together we worked and saved and eventually graduated to renting a 3 bedroom house. The kids were allowed to be "kids" again. We were happy.
Although I don't want to paint a picture of perfection. There were plenty of tears and countless arguments but those times were always met with loads of understanding. At the end of the day, we managed to get through every obstacle that was meant to tear us apart.
Forever Means Forever
We bought our current home in 2003. We planted roots and became the "stable" family most kids imagine in childhood. We devoted our time, money and energy into raising a family.
Our life consisted of baseball games and boy scouts meetings, which eventually turned into driving lessons and graduations, then marriages and now grand kids. He was there through all of it, for all of us.
Their biological father would make a random appearance about every 6 months or so, but it eventually got to the point to where they would not want to see him. They already had a dad.
I've often wondered if the kids were blood related to him, would there have been a difference? I don't think so. How could he be a better father than he already was?
Our kids are all adults now. They love and respect him immensely. When they bring over friends, he is always introduced as dad never "step-dad" (there are one set of steps in this house and they are outside). He is their dad and also the best grandpa you will ever meet!
Sharing the same blood has nothing to do with your ability to love, nurture and raise a child.
I realize not many men would fill the shoes that he so willingly did and I will always be grateful that we both decided we wanted to play pool that night, so many years ago.
He made the choice to love when he didn't have to.