It had been about three months since we told my parents about JT and today they’d meet him in person.
It was crazy to think how much of a part of my life this little guy was; yet my parents had never witnessed it.
I had taken on the role of being a mom when JT was with Steve and I. By no means was I trying to replace his biological mother, but I was going to do my best to love and care for him, like any good mom would.
This sweetheart really challenged our relationship, not because he was difficult, but because we really had to work together when he was in our care. We had to communicate, coordinate, and operate in a tag team fashion. When one of us was playing with him, the other one would be preparing his food. While one of us was changing his diapers, the other one could take a minute to rest.
Steve was so playful with JT and I could see how much they loved each other. He got a kick out of making him laugh doing the silliest things.
Now changing dirty diapers was a different story. Steve’s stomach couldn’t handle the mess, so I would voluntarily change his diapers. Steve and I complimented each other in our child rearing.
It was May 1, 2011 and my parents arrived at my house and we anxiously awaited the arrival of Steve and JT.
Steve had picked him up and drove to my house. I heard the upstairs door open. I went upstairs to help him carry the diaper bag as my parents anxious awaited seeing JT for the first time.
The three of us came downstairs. One look at JT and my mom got teary-eyed and my dad smiled and I knew that they were hooked!
His sweet baby cheeks, wild hair that couldn’t be tamed and wore a grin identical to his daddy’s…
I was so proud in that moment. I was proud of Steve because he was such a great dad. He would do anything for JT and he worked hard to provide for his son. He loved him so much. He prayed for him, gave him love and attention, taught him things, gave him correction when needed. He took parenting seriously and wanted to instill in him strong Christian values. We prayed before our meals as a family and before feeding JT. He would eventually understand what praying was all about.
My heart was beaming with joy. Not only did I love Steve, but I loved JT. To think that there was a time when I questioned if this life was really what God had planned for me…fast-forward and there we were. My boys and I spending time with my parents, JT’s potential future grand parents!
Steve and I played with JT and shared with my parents what he was like, what he likes to do, his latest achievements in baby world.
My parents took turns holding him and playing with him. JT was checking them out…who are these people?
We had an amazing day as a family that day. JT even fell asleep on my dad’s lap.
This day couldn’t have been any better. I went to bed that night with happy heart that was overflowing with love. God had blown my mind.
Have you had moments in your life, that from the surface didn’t make any sense, but you later realized that what was planned for your life was incredible?
Isaiah 55:8 says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
My challenge to you today is to reflect on the perceived rough patches of your life. Perhaps what frustrates or pains you right now could be a blessing that has yet to be discovered.
After all, His ways are not our ways, and your Father knows best.
Today wasn’t just any ordinary day at the gym. I had trained with Steve earlier and then I was going to spend the day relaxing by the pool, or trying to relax I should say.
It was a rough one. The man I cared about was going to be leaving work to have a baby with another woman. I was dreading the moment he would call me saying he was leaving to go to the hospital.
I always wanted the experience of having my first child to be something I shared with my husband. This was supposed to be an experience for a married us, instead of a non-married them. That plan was out the window. It was hard to swallow the fact that my boyfriend, the man I cared about more than anyone, would be leaving to support another woman in labor. Is this really my life right now?
I tried to relax and calm my spirit by the pool, but I was restless. I laid on my stomach as tears rolled down my face just thinking about it; breathing slow controlled breaths, trying to get myself to calm down.
I felt sick to my stomach. What if he changes his mind about me? What if the birth of his son is so overwhelming and such a life changing experience that it brings them closer together and he decides he wants to be with her? No, he wouldn’t ever do that…would he?
All the time we’ve spent together, being so happy together, being passionate about the same things, working through the ups and down of the situation, surely that had to be enough?
He told me he loved me…surely he meant it.
He meant it.
He loves me.
Steve… loves… me,
and only me.
My phone rang; I glanced down and saw Steve’s name and picture on my phone.
Pulling myself together I said, “hello?”
“Ash I just wanted to tell you that I’m leaving now, and I love you.”
“Okay,” I replied, attempting to hold back my sniffle and tears.
“I will call you when I get back, okay?”
“Okay.” I muttered.
We hung up. It was happening.
Steve was leaving the gym and the next time I’d see him, he’d be a dad.
I cried, lying on the pool deck, as the commotion of the kids swimming and the upbeat music played in the background. I was anything but upbeat. I wanted crawl into a hole.
My phone vibrated, I opened up the text and it read:
“Ashley, remember that I love you.”
Mid July, was staring me in the face. All of our talk of Steve becoming a dad would soon be a reality. The thoughts, ideas, dreams, and what-ifs would be a thing of the past.
Steve and I were at his town home making dinner together as usual. Our time together seemed to grow more serious. We both were trying to find a balance in the situation.
For me, I was battling being supportive whole-heartedly. I knew I was going to support him the best I could, even though my heart was torn. The day he would become a dad would be a joyful day for him and a heartbreaking one for me. Don’t get me wrong, I would love that little boy with all of my heart, but my dreams were shattered.
I had always dreamed that I’d be sharing the rookie year of parenting with my husband. Instead, my boyfriend would be experiencing this first with another woman. Ouch!
Steve had gotten over the initial shock of being a father. He was so excited to be a dad, yet I knew he struggled with how all of this made me feel. He knew how hurt I was, and was very sensitive to that.
He communicated his feelings for me very clearly to me to thwart off any doubt in my mind about how he felt about me. Having a child with another woman wasn’t going to change his feelings for me, and he flat out told me that.
He wanted to be with me and only me.
He checked our food on the stove and said “Ash, come here,” as he motioned me into the kitchen, patted the counter, inviting me to sit down.
Okay, I thought. What is he doing?
“I just want you to know that I may not always say this to you in the exact same way, or show you in the exact same way, but I just want you to know…” He reached under my legs, pulled open the kitchen drawer and took out a small box.
My heart sank…
“I love you.”
Speechless, I looked down at the box, (with a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a ring), to see a beautiful pair of diamond earrings.
My mind was spinning through the rolodex of responses I could give. I wasn’t sure of what type of response he thought he’d get. Oh my goodness, he just told me he loved me! I can’t say it back; I’m not ready to say it back.
I put my arms around his neck and gave him big a hug.
“That was really thoughtful, thank you.” I proceeded to put the earrings on.
No one had ever bought me diamond earrings before, but it was totally in Steve’s character to be thoughtful and giving. Like the time he bought me my own pair of pink Title boxing gloves.
He was so selfless, and was always willing to help people any way he could. There were so many things I adored about him, far beyond any gift he could ever give me. Would those qualities and my feelings outweigh my fear of this situation? Was I really going to walk into all of this and choose this life for myself?
Steve made me feel so special that day, yet I knew there would be challenges to come, especially in the days ahead.
Steve and I continued to spend time together. I couldn’t help but feel the weight of this decision on my shoulders both when we were together and apart. It was always on my mind.
We had more conversations about the whole situation and God continued to work in my heart. This wasn’t going to be easy. I was battling the hurt in my heart and the jealousy of what this woman took from me, and what Steve chose to give away.
“So, how or when are we going to tell my parents?” I asked.
“Ash, I want to be the one to tell them. This was a decision that I made and it shouldn’t be your responsibility to tell them.”
I was relieved. I had no idea how I’d even attempt to explain this one. My heart melted because he knew what all of this was doing to me, and he really manned-up.
In all my praying I never felt that I was supposed to leave Steve. There was something about him that made me want to stay. I tried to view this situation through the eyes of Jesus, because I know that He’s smarter than I am.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
There had to be something good that would come from this mess. A child, for one, is always a blessing; a true gift and miracle from God. There had to be more that God was trying to do in this situation, but I didn’t know what.
It would have been a totally different ball game if Steve were running away from the situation and the responsibilities that came with it. I wouldn’t have been around for that train wreck. Maybe God was trying to get Steve to grow up or get his attention?
He embraced the situation and he was excited to be a dad, and not only that, he was having a boy! He was so excited to be having a little “dude.”
I really struggled with the balance of being supportive and my own feelings. I tried to mask this struggle, but there was a lot going on in my head and in my heart. I tried my best to be encouraging even if it stung.
Our friends Rod and Dee decided to host a baby shower for Steve on June 27, 2010. I was so grateful that Steve had such great friends who were so supportive of him.
It was difficult to be the woman in Steve’s life that he cared about, but yet not be part of the baby shower. Instead, the woman who was carrying his child would be there. (I haven’t decided if I want to include her name).
Steve would soon be experiencing one of the most important events in his life mid July, but I wouldn’t be there to experience it with him.
Instead, I’d be sitting on the sidelines…benched.
It wasn’t long after our first few dates that Steve bought me my own pair of pink Title boxing gloves. I still wasn’t quite sure what to think of him yet.
My initial reaction was, great, now I feel obligated to go to his class…but it didn’t stop there. He also bought my sister a pair too. We were basically a package deal. To get to me, you gotta go through my sister and vice versa. Way to reel her in with a pair of gloves!
It actually ended up being a great thing. Mel and I continued to go to Steve’s boxing classes and I got to know him better too.
Steve and I gradually spent more time together. Some times we’d cook together, work out, go on walks, go to sporting events, or watch UFC fights (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
The more time I spent with Steve, the more I learned about him. I learned he was a very connected guy. He was a smart aleck always prepared with a one-liner or a witty comeback. He didn’t say things in a hurtful way but he had a way of zinging you with truth.
He was intelligent, not only on a general knowledge level, but in his training. He’s the experienced trainer who could take you through a series of movements (exercise assessments) and could tell you exactly what you needed to do to improve the functionality of your body or give you a plan to correct your dysfunction. Steve loved helping people and having fun in the process.
He was a go-getter. If there was something he wanted, he’d work for it.
Well, apparently I was one of those things. We were working out at the gym and he introduced me to someone and said, “this my girlfriend, Ashley.”
I smiled and shook that person’s hand and just went with it in the moment, when inside I was dying, what was he thinking! Did I some how miss the conversation that we were “official” because I don’t remember having that conversation?
After our workout I went home to my sister Melia, who was my roommate at the time and filled her in.
“He introduced me to someone as his girlfriend!”
Now Mel knows me very well. I am what you call a commitment phobe when it comes to relationships. It’s really quite ridiculous actually.
“You can’t just start calling someone your girlfriend without asking her about it.”
We hemmed and hawed about the details of this situation and the positives and negatives of it. It eventually turned into me admitting, “I have a boyfriend.”
It was a regular evening and Steve and I were hanging out after work. We had cooked dinner together and he suggested we go on a walk.
We laughed, joked and talked. Just enjoying the evening together.
“I brought you on this walk because there’s something I want to tell you.” When he prefaced this chat with that, of course I had a little bit of panic…he’s going to tell me he loves me. What in the world am I going to do?
But that wasn’t it.
He said “There has been something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I didn’t know where this relationship would go at first and I wanted to see how things developed before I told you.”
“Okay…well you know you can tell me anything right?” I ensured.
“Yes, I know that.” He paused as he gathered his thoughts.
“Ash, I’m going to be a dad.”