God's gift

Fam_in_sepia083WARNING: Intensely personal story coming up:
When Eric and I first met, the one line description of my life read as follows:
I always thought of it like that. Like an Enquirer headline. It felt so dramatic and so final and so unappealing.  It felt more like:
When I met him, I was a single mother supporting my two kids, who were five and two. I worked as a graphic designer. I was committed to them and I was committed to remaining single because my kids came first.
But I had a promise from God. It is from the book of Jeremiah. The 29th chapter, the 11th verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I liked Eric immediately when I met him. So much so, that I tried to set him up with my friend, Chris. They didn't hit it off and he kept coming around.
Our lives were so different, Eric's and mine.
He was a single guy. I was a single parent
There was really no future for us, even though we enjoyed being together, so we opted to become friends.
That was the safe alternative. (right?)
You can probably guess the rest. We were friends for a few years and then we both had that "aha!" moment.
When our friendship turned a corner.  I tried to discourage him from pursuing me. I came with too much baggage and too many complications, not the least of which were Amy and Adam.
I would not even consider dating him if he wasn't serious about them. I know this sounds terribly old-fashioned, but I took a vow before God when I had these kids. They were my highest priority.
So Eric and I duked it out for a few years trying to figure out if this was the best for everyone.
Obviously he won me over.
But here comes the best and most amazing part: He won my kids over.
The day we took our wedding vows,  (Amy was nine and Adam was six) he made vows to them, too.
I am proud to say that he has kept his vows to the three of us.
It took a little bit of practice, but since I had Lucy after we'd been married one year, they started calling him "Dad." (for the baby's sake =D)
Adam will tell you that it was Dad who taught him how to tie his shoes and ride his bike.
Amy will tell you it was Dad who taught her to drive.
In all the crowds of parents at football games and lacrosse games and wrestling matches and theater productions, the kids were always able to spot us, even with lights in their eyes. Because they could always hear Dad's voice cheering them on.
When Lucy and Jonathan came along, of course he was thrilled, but he never treated Amy and Adam as anything other than his own.
He strings and tunes Adam's guitar without being asked.
He makes sure Amy's car has brake fluid and belts and all those things that girls never think to worry about. She doesn't have to. Dad worries about it for her.
Eric is the one who by example has taught my daughters how special they are and how they deserve to be treated.
It is Eric who is the mentor for my sons, in business as well as relationships.
He always treats my mom with reverence and respect. He is generous in opening up our home not just to his 93-year old mother-in-law every few weekends, but to the big Cuban family he has inherited.
He has tremendous respect for his own parents and adores his sister, Michelle.
I still love to hear it when the kids call him "Dad."
I still love to look at his left hand and see the ring on it that symbolizes his commitment to me.
I love when he takes my mom's arm and walks her to her chair.
I love so many things about him, obviously.
I'm grateful he has taken his vows so seriously, especially to those two lost kids whom he calls his own and who honor him by calling him "Dad."
When I talk to TPWRTU (The People Who Run The Universe), I always bring up Eric's name and say "Thanks, God. You have most certainly kept your promise to me and given me "a hope and a future."
Because this man has been such a gift to us. He's such a good husband. Such a good father. And such a good friend. 

You're probably tempted to ask, "who does he think he is? God's gift?"

And I'd have to answer, "No, he doesn't think so. But, we do." =D 

Happy Father's Day, Honey.