We met online. On a platform that shall remain nameless (yes, I’m a little embarrassed). We dated for a while, then I broke it off. I was uncertain he was the one. But then, life has a funny way for slapping you in the face and screaming, “wake up! He’s the ONLY one”. He was indeed the only one patient enough to understand me when I couldn’t. He was the only one that took care of me when I unexpectedly got sick. He loved me and my daughter with no hesitations. So I married him! But if that wasn’t enough as a sign of love and commitment, life decided to throw us a little curve ball. And I hit a home-run! Grand-slam actually, because now there are 4 of us. My daughter and his son.
We had decided we weren’t going to have kids. My daughter is now a teenager, and her level of maturity and independence reassured us that we’d be able to live the kind of life we wanted; weekend getaways, spontaneous date nights, wine club members, etc, etc. Then one day, as we sat in the parking lot of our wedding venue for our food tasting, he turned and looked at me, and I instantly knew something was wrong. I prepared for the worst. I thought he was going to tell me that he had changed his mind about me. That I was neurotic and he didn’t want to get married. The practical side of me thought, “oh well, the deposit on the venue will be lost. Better that than making the biggest mistake our our lives. But the news wasn’t about me, at all. In fact, it had nothing to do with me, and I felt absolutely helpless.
Earlier that day he had received a certified letter from the Pennsylvania courthouse. He showed me the letter, but I didn’t understand any of it. It wasn’t the language I didn’t understand, I mean, it was very clear. Deceased, alleged father, paternity test, child support. What I didn’t understand was why God had chosen us to be in this predicament, at this very moment. Just when everything seemed so calm. And perfect. I don’t truly recall how much time had passed before I broke the silence with a , “what are you going to do?”. What I do know, is that in the moment of time, I had already made up my mind. I already knew what I would do. I already knew what I NEEDED him to do. I had already imagined my life with a baby boy, and how I would decorate that 4th spare bedroom in the house we had recently purchased, that was already conveniently painted navy blue. Nautical theme. Boats and anchors. And a wooden toy chest. Hard to say what was going thru his mind, because I could tell he was holding back alot. He finally admitted that he was scared. Scared that IF the child was indeed his son (because that was yet to be determined), that it would change EVERYTHING between us. Of course it would, I told him. But it would make everything better. Yes, harder too. But in my mind, it only came down to this: What kind of person would I be if I did not stand behind him and fully support him through this? This is the man I had already agreed to spend the rest of my life with, and although we were not officially married yet, the ring on my hand signified otherwise. And what kind of hypocrite would I be if I expected him to love me and marry me when I too had a child from a previous relationship and not do the same for him? Then there was the question, what if he doesn’t accept this challenge and takes the easy way out? Would I still want to marry him then?
We went to our food tasting with a new perspective on the journey we were about to embark on. It wasn’t just about planning a wedding anymore, It was about planning for how our lives were going to completely change. It was about being prepared to stand by each other no matter what curve balls life decided to throw at us. It was about preparing to be the best versions of ourselves, for each other and for our unexpected little miracle. It was a long, heart-wrenching and expensive process establishing paternity and then pursuing full custody of a child we had never met that lived across the country. But by the grace of God, we survived it, our marriage survived it, and…well, this is us.
Rowen came to live with us full time in March of 2018, two days after turning 3 years old. We celebrated Mother’s Day with this session. He calls me mommy and kisses me good night, every night, just like his daddy. I have been blessed beyond measure.
* Photos taken by yours truly, Cindy Diana Photography. Pictured here is my husband Shaun, daughter Bella, son Rowen and Grandma Cristina.