I waited a year before I introduced him to my girls. Before they ever met, he told me that he loved them even more than me, and I knew how much he loved me. Their first meeting was at a park and it was love at first sight, for both parties. The next day, he bought car seats for his truck, which he had spent countless hours researching. I stood in the parking lot on that hot June evening, watching them laugh with a happiness I didn’t know I could have. It was at that moment I knew this would be our new normal.
I will never have the words to tell him how grateful I am for the love he gives us day in and day out. He has never missed a practice for gymnastics or ballet, even if it meant leaving for work hours before we wake up so that he can be done on time. My heart skipped a beat the first time I watched him show them how to swing a bat. Someday I will show them his college baseball card. He built the vacation bible school Olympic arch out of 253 balloons, 6 hours of melting PVC pipe, and one smoke alarm. On Halloween night, they strolled the boulevard in the most amazing princess carriage two little girls could dream of, again thanks to a sleepless night and PVC pipe. He built risers for the church Christmas program, which he worked on every night for a week straight - the same week he was gutting our recently purchased house, so we could move in by Christmas.
From day one, he has put us first. He’s never on his phone when he is with us, never. We have his undivided day in and day out. He gives us everything he has. I stare at the calluses on his hands, knees and feet and wonder daily how we got this lucky. He had a career he loved and now he lays flooring, not that he would ever complain about how physically demanding that job is.
He is not their dad and he is not trying to be. They split their time between their dad and myself. He is just someone who loves them, who loves us, in a way that is unparalleled. He drove me to an animal rescue to help me pick out their first kitten and he bought three months’ worth of allergy medication on the way home. He built them a stage for their “concerts”, which from their viewpoint is as perfect as the Ryman Auditorium. He has taught them about NASCAR and while I rolled my eyes, I watched their eyes light up. He orders food he knows they’ll want to try when they decide they don’t what they ordered after all. He is the first to start a living room dance party any night of the week.
The effort he puts in to the three of us is something I can’t explain. He once put on a Sheriff Callie hat and yelled, “Hey! It’s Farmer Pickles!” I was laughing to the point of tears standing in that Target aisle as I informed him that green prickly character was a cactus. Before he met them, he watched Handy Manny episodes so he could learn about what was our go-to show at the time. He goes out to their play house to order whatever is on their ‘menu’ and he drops whatever he is doing to go order again and again. He has held them through an entire Dierks Bentley concert, twice. He has decorated for three birthday parties and a Halloween party with more effort than even Pinterest could put forth.
He has held my hand through nights when I missed them so much that the tears would not stop. He has endured my wrath on countless occasions, for issues that were no fault of his own. He knows there isn’t a battle he can win in a household of 3 girls. He let us keep a bottle calf (Miranda Lambert) as a forever cow and bought us a mini pig. He surprised us with our first bunny (Dolly Parton) and built her a hutch.
He can do it all – and he has.
I have an unexplainable appreciation for this love and devotion for my children. He is here because he wants to be. Every. Single. Day.