Monday, March 18, 2013

From Uterus to University - Mini Vans are Definitely Better Than Sports Cars

Photo credit:  Lisbet Photography
I knew our two oldest monkeys before I met their dad.  Whoa now!  Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you our story.

Seventeen years ago, I was a speech therapist working at a montessori school in downtown Orlando.  I was young and single and the teachers at the school were determined to make me a married woman.  One teacher kept trying to set me up with a guy who lived across the street from the school.  It was super awkward, and I was pretty sure that the "boy next door" just thought that I was a stalker.  The sudden appearance of the home security signs on his front lawn pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

The school director (who just so happened to be my aunt's mother) "casually" mentioned to me one day that there was this single dad whose kids attended the school and she wanted to introduce me to him.  To that request I had two words, NO and WAY.  Too much baggage for me.  After all, I was young and single, with a decent job, my own apartment, and a new sports car.  I had plans for my life and the thought of driving a mini van full of kids in the suburbs made my palms sweat and my knees weak.

Then one balmy autumn afternoon, something else made my knees weak.  As I was finishing up a therapy session with one of my clients on the playground, I looked up and noticed this really handsome guy with gorgeous green eyes looking at me.  Our eyes met for a moment, and I knew exactly who he was.  He was that single dad the school director wanted me to meet.  His stare made my palms sweat and my heart skip a beat.  Suddenly mini vans full of kids and the burbs seemed exciting.  And then as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.

Months passed.  The matchmakers settled down, a bit.  I dated my college roommate's brother (very awkward) and life was well, just status quo.  I thought a lot about "Single Dad" during those months.  I saw his kids weekly at the school.  They were ridiculously cute and smart.  The oldest was 4 and the youngest was 3. I did speech therapy with other children in both of their classes. The chubby cheeked three year old  was always curious and asked me a lot of questions about why I was there and what I was doing. The four year old was shy. He had a dimpled grin and a raspy little voice.

One morning as I arrived at work and tried desperately to avoid eye contact with "the boy next door" and his girlfriend who appeared just as suddenly as those home security signs, I noticed "Single Dad" walking to back to his car after dropping off his kids.  I knew that I had to meet him.  He was getting into his car and I was about to miss my chance!  Then suddenly, he got out of the car and carried a child's car seat back into the school.  Yes!  Thank God for child safety seats!  I stalled, he came back out, and we finally made proper introductions.  As it turns out, the forgotten car seat was just an excuse he made up so that he could meet me.  His name was Pete.

Weeks passed and our paths never seemed to cross. Then one evening my phone rang and it was Pete.  He asked me out to dinner, on his birthday.  I wish that I could remember more about that evening, but it was like a dream.  I do remember that with every word Pete spoke, I grew more and more in enamored with him.  His story was a powerful one.  He had overcome so much heartache.  He was full of faith and totally devoted to his sweet children.  As the night ended, I knew that I needed more of Pete in my life.

In the days that followed, our friendship and love for each other grew exponentially.  At the same time, I was growing more in love with his kids by the moment.  They were at such tender ages, so tiny and vulnerable. They had been blessed with their amazing dad and his love and daily care for them, but they were missing something...someone.

When Pete asked me to marry him (just 21 days after our first date) the answer was a resounding yes. I had no doubt the we were made for each other.  All of us.  We were married in May, just four months after our first date. The kids were in the wedding and they were precious.  The four year old even asked Pete to tie his shoe during the ceremony.  It was perfect.  When we exchanged our vows and I said, "I do" I was saying I do to being a wife and a mother.  We were saying yes to becoming a family, brought together in an unexpected way and completed by God.

Our love story has taught me many valuable lessons.  First, I have learned that we need to hold our life plans loosely.  Even our best thought out plans do not hold a candle to what God has in store for us.  Second, families come in many different shapes and sizes. That was a continuation of the lesson that I was taught when my parents adopted my brothers. Third, you do not have to give birth to a child to be their mom.  Although, I did not carry our two oldest children in my womb, I carried them in my heart.  I labored them with love. I did not give birth to them, but I have considered them my own flesh and blood from the moment that God brought us together. And finally, even though I loved my little sports car, I have come to realize that mini vans are definitely better than sports cars, especially when they are full of monkeys who live in the suburbs.

So friends, what about you?  Do you have a love story to tell?  What is the size and shape of your family? What surprising twists and turns have happened to your plans for your life? I always enjoy hearing from you.



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