Saturday, October 23, 2010

An unusual privilege

What do the kids call me?

It's always been Joe. The way they say it is so sweet. When Cadence was younger, she would say Joe and it sounded like Jew and I feel like the sound of it is always changing.

They think its really funny to call me Joey.

The hardest part is whether or not to have them call me dad. I don't think we have every really told them to call me dad, but should we tell them not to if they do?

This one is hard for me, because I would love to be their dad, but the fact is that I am not. They have a dad. Out of respect to him, I don't feel like we can tell them to call me dad. However, once Jessica and I got married, we told them that they have two dads and every now and again they do call me dad. We make sure they know that their dad is still their dad.

The hardest part about all this to me is that Joe is so detached. Everyone calls me Joe. I wish there was something they could call me that had some other special meaning. Its definitely hard to pour your heart and soul into the kids and not have them call you daddy or dad. It's one of those things that people take for granted.

To me, being called dad is a privilege.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Journey into instant parenthood: Ups and downs

I would love to say that Jessica and I had a flawless courtship, but that is far from the truth.

When you put together a couple where one had never really had a long term relationship and the other was fresh out of a divorce, it is inevitable that there will be some issues. When you haven't had a long term relationship, its probably one of two things; you are scared of a long term relationship or you scare them away with coming on too strong. It was the later for me and the tendency for a person who has been divorced is to not get to close to anyone. Especially when it hasn't even been a year since the divorce.

Consequently, we had really good times, where I was probably coming on too strong.  And we had our times where she was pulling away, which who could blame her.

Through our ups and downs, my relationship with the kids continued to grow. Instead of loving just one person, I had to deal with loving three, which was a lot for a person that had never loved anyone else.

Having the kids in the equation made the courtship harder in many ways. The first was being able to know how to help Jessica out as much as I could with being a single parent. My fall back was buying things for her and the kids, but I tried to help out in other ways as well... which meant changing diapers and wiping butts once she got comfortable enough with me around her kids! I felt some pressure to help, but never from Jessica, just because I wanted to be everything she had never had.

The second difficult thing about having the kids was time. Every other weekend, the kids would be gone to their dad's house so it was nice to have that opportunity for alone time. But Jessica was trying to figure out what she wanted from her life, so a lot of those weekends were spent partying with her friends. This was hard for me as I was out of the partying scene and wanted just her and I time. The weekends she had the kids, we would hang out and so I got to spend time with three of my favorite people!

All these things, brought us to a point where I would grow tremendously for about two months. We decided to take a break from dating each other. It was very hard for me. Not being able to see her as much and feeling like we had such a good thing going. But also, not seeing the kids was difficult. I had grown to develop a relationship with the kids that it was hard not knowing what they were up to. Not being able to see them grow... etc...

Why? Why couldn't she see how awesome things were when we were together? I loved her. She loved me. The kids loved me. Wasn't it that simple?

No, it wasn't. Jessica had to grow up and mature and figure out what she wanted for her life. But, I had as much growing up to do as she did. I didn't know if we would ever get back together, but I took that opportunity to grow spiritually and personally.

Looking back, I truly believe that if we had stayed together, some of our underlying issues would have torn us apart. But since we were able to grow apart from each other and develop as individuals, we were much more prepared to face the issues we would face. Now I thank God everyday that I took that chance to open my heart to a single mom with two kids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Journey into instant parenthood: Coming together

About three months after Jessica had left her husband, a mutual friend gave me her number and we started the communication.

At first it was just texting. Then we added talking to the equation. About three weeks after we started talking, I was working at the gateway mall and her family was going there to shop. It was the perfect situation for us to meet for the first time, but we both chickened out! That was a Monday and we ended up going out that next weekend, so all was good.

We continued to develop our friendship and relationship. I still remember one night we were hanging out at her house and the kids were asleep. She left to get something upstairs and I was so nervous that one of them would wake up and come out and see this strange guy. I was relieved when Jessica came back and they didn't come out.

Then the question came, when should I meet the kids?

It was something we took seriously, because you don't let your kids meet just anyone and I knew that once I met the kids, it instantly became that much more serious of a relationship. When I would tell people at work about the situation, they would warn me about kids and how it can be so hard. But something inside me, was looking forward to meeting them and loved the thought of dating someone with kids.

So, the night came that I was going to meet these little kiddies. We decided to go to Chili's and go bowling. One of the things that sticks out in my mind, is when we first got there I opened a sugar packet and ate the sugar (yes, I know, mature right?) and put my gum in the empty packet. Next thing I know, three and half year old Braxton is doing the same thing. It ended up being a great night and the next time I saw them it was at Gateway mall for a fun little "family" date. Cadence would not stop looking at me (see pic), it was so much to be around these kids. The first time I met Jessica's family was at Cadence's first birthday and it wasn't just her immediate family, but everyone was there! It went well though...

Our chemistry was undeniable and we were always smiling and laughing with each other. Would it be in our plans and God's plan for us to continue our relationship? [ Not a great cliffhanger, seeing as you already know the outcome, but figured I would try :) ]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Journey into instant parenthood: meanwhile in SLC

While Jessica was unintentionally becoming a single mom of two kids, I was unknowingly preparing for the time of my life. 

I was never really great in the dating world, for many reasons. I never liked to play the games that men and women play while dating. You know, the whole wait two days before you call or let the phone ring just to make them wonder what you are doing. Those things just aren't me; if I liked you, I would say it, if I wanted to text you then I would text you. That's not what everyone wants, but I wanted to be able to be myself with the girl I was dating. 

Another reason I was not great in the dating world was because I am not an outgoing person really. So, most of my relationships pre-Jessica, were through work because barriers were broke down and girls got to know me better. Relationships and work do not mesh.

So.... while Jessica was going through her struggles, I was going through mine. 

It's funny how things in your past prepare you for what you are going through now or in the future. I believe that one of the reasons Jessica fell for me, is because I fell for her and didn't play like I didn't. It's something she liked, the honesty and straight forwardness. For all the single people out there, it doesn't always pay off to play the games.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A journey into instant parenthood: prelude

It all began with a boy and a girl. 

The girl is now my wife. The boy is now her ex-husband. 

When you are sixteen, you feel like you are old enough to make your own decision. You feel like you should be an adult and have most, if not all, of the answers. 

I can imagine as a parent of a teenager, you just pray that your child doesn't make any life-changing mistakes decisions. When you have a plan for something (your life, your child's life, the day...) you think that's the best or only way for it to go. So when something goes astray, it is a "mistake" or a bad thing. But it can also be a blessing. 

Well, that girl (Jessica) got pregnant with little Braxton by her boyfriend in high school and decided to marry the father. The result of the marriage was a tough divorce and a beautiful girl named Cadence. The two kids that would change my life forever came from this "bad" relationship. 

It's all a matter of perspective. At the time, no one would have said that Jessica getting pregnant was a good thing, but now we can't imagine life without Braxton. Looking back, Jessica marrying the father of Braxton, was a mistake but then we wouldn't have Cadence. I believe that everything happens for a reason. A lesson to learn, a blessing in disguise, an experience to help someone else out later in life. We just don't know what it may be, but there is a reason for everything.