“Not always but forever.”
One simple phrase drove straight to my tear ducts and released a waterfall of emotions. My daughter Emerson explained it as, “We haven’t known Nick always, but we will love him forever.” Well said, little human. And she was right. Contrary to popular belief, Nick has not always been a part of our lives. In fact, the kids did not meet him until they were six. You would never guess that, though. In addition to looking eerily similar, the three of them have formed a lasting bond that can be seen from the moment they walk into a room.
The night after the kids first met Nick was when I knew for sure he was the man I wanted to marry. Brayden had always been distant towards any male, from my friends’ husbands to the cashier at the grocery store. Within minutes of seeing him, though, Brayden grabbed his hand and asked Nick if he would go on a ride with him. We had put off this meeting for months, protecting both parties, and I would be the one to call the shots on when the time was right. Well, watching the two of them walk away, my little boy holding the hand of my future husband, suddenly all was right in the world.
In the beginning, our time all together was spent at the park, catching a baseball game, bowling, and even an adventurous night of mini-golf. It was chaotic, to say the least. Soon enough, my children had warmed up enough to let their true sides show. (No, they are not always perfect angels…far from it actually!) I remember each time they’d throw a fit or get into an argument in front of him, I would convince myself he was going to walk away.
Who would want to take on this mess? I have TWINS! This guy could not possibly be interested in staying for the long haul! I’m going to die alone; there is absolutely no point in dating.
Dramatic, right? But I can almost guarantee that any single mama out there who has dated with children, knows what I’m talking about. It’s scary to reveal your vulnerable side, and to let someone into the messy aspects of parenting.
Spoiler alert: He stayed.
Nick quickly adapted into our routines and became my partner in crime in the adventure of raising twins. He let me make the rules and enforce them, but he always had my back, something I had never experienced before. (Neither had the children, so learning that “no” actually meant “no” was very new to them.) The three of us began to experience life through a whole new set of eyes, trying new activities, foods, and finding a happiness we never knew existed.
Wrestling was a sport I had refused to let Brayden participate in the year before, and to be honest, it was mainly because I knew nothing about it. What kid wants a clueless mom assisting him on the side of the mat? Well, Nick had grown up wrestling and talked me into giving it a shot. Brayden’s first meet was painful. He spent most of it face down on the mat with alligator tears streaming down his cheeks. Mama was ready to pull him out, throw in the towel and forget it ever happened. Of course, that did not happen. The two of them truly bonded that day as Nick had his back throughout every match. He wiped away those tears and let him know that it could only get better from there. That night, though, the tables turned. After fixing an issue with their television, Nick came downstairs with tears in his eyes. “He just told me he loved me.” My sweet little boy had found his best buddy and the words rolled right off his tongue. We sat there crying silent tears, both smiling and knowing that moment would be a turning point for all of us.
Emerson and Nick have always had a different relationship. In him, she found the older, male version of herself, and he understood her unlike anyone else. To be honest, she has the man wrapped around her finger, one of ten that he has painted on numerous occasions. Nothing makes Em smile bigger than when he tells her she is pretty and that he is proud of her. Simple terms that mean everything to my little girl. She took him to her Daddy/Daughter Dance this year at school, and the entire evening was memorable, from him coming home with flowers to surprise her, to how much she glowed while getting ready. I’m grateful that she has Nick to give her an example of how a lady deserves to be treated, something I pray she holds on to forever.
My life definitely has not gone according to plan, and I cannot tell you how many times I have become envious of those who have been a family since day one. I wish I could say our relationship has been all sunshine and rainbows, but this is real life. It’s messy, loud, devastating, confusing…we’re constantly riding this roller coaster, not knowing what is coming next. But we’re a team, and we have been since Nick first came in to our lives. I know he will always have my back and will continue pushing me to be a better mom, co-worker, daughter, friend, and my soon-to-be title: wife. And I’ll continue supporting and pushing him, through all of the trials and tribulations that life throws our way.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and they continue to prove that to us day in and day out. But THANK YOU, Nicholas, for standing strong when the craziest winds tried to knock you down. Thank you for showing Emerson and Brayden what they deserve in life, and being everything they ever wanted and more. But mostly, thank you for loving me and my children, through the brightest and darkest days. I’m still not quite sure what I did to deserve you, but I thank God you’re here.
We love you more!