I'm going to wrap this up now, dear friends. Again with the surprise, I bet you're thinking. I wanted to share this significant event in our lives with you and what I've learned, but it's time to move on. There's magpies to write! And a sweet friend traveling a long way to visit with me this week!
I watched "Parenthood" last week and there's a scene where an older aunt compares marriage to a roller coaster. She says that the first time she rode one, she felt frightened, sick, and exhilarated all at the same time. Some people love the roller coaster, said said, but some people choose the merry-go-round, where there are no surprises, no twists or turns, no speed. She said she always liked the roller coaster. What a perfect metaphor for life and marriage and family. It rings of truth.
When we got the call from his ex about his daughter, I heard a ticking sound as we were being pulled up the track of the roller coaster to a mammoth hill. I was consumed with fear. And the fear was simply this...I was afraid that this man whom I had built a life with the past four years, the man who had been a father to my children, a grandfather to our grandson, would leave. You see, Robert's always wanted child of his own. I can't have any more children, but I've given him mine and he's embraced them as his own. But I was so afraid that the pull he would feel for his daughter, his biological daughter, would be so strong that all of us, would eventually fade away. That we would began to seem less important, less real. Now granted, this realization didn't come to me immediately, the fear was too thick for me to see through to the crux of the matter. But some great friends helped me to see through the fog. And I learned that I didn't trust for this love to last, not that I didn't trust Rob, but I didn't trust or feel that I deserved this kind of love. Abandonment issues, remember? Replacing that lie with the truth became easier, once I identified the lie. Over time.
And Rob? He handled this like he handles everything else, with forgiveness and patience and grace. Instead of being angry that he had missed so much of his daughter's life, he chose to forgive and move on. He taught me that I had some people that I needed to forgive as well. I thought I had. Turns out, not so much. That bad energy was still hanging around.
In less than three weeks, we had the results of the DNA test and were on our way to Alabama to meet her for the first time. She was prepared for the visit, she hadn't known anyone as Daddy her whole life, and was more than ready to meet him. The first thing she said to him after she wrapped her arms around his neck was, "Daddy, I've missed you so much." I could have dropped to the floor and melted into an emotional Lifetime movie mess after that. My husband was overwhelmed, he was instantly in love, happy, and frightened, too. How would this work? How would he spend time with her, while she lived two states away? How would he get to know her? How would he show her he loved her?
But you know what? The bond was instant. See the picture above? That's pretty much where she stayed the entire weekend, in his arms. He asked me once if I thought she was too big to be held and I told him he could hold her as long as he wanted, he had missed so many years. He smiled. I love to watch him as he watches her. I can see him trying to memorize every curve of her face, every freckle, everything that he has yet to learn about her. And I'm so honored that I get to be a part of her life from the beginning, at least as we know it, that I get to be there for the both of them, just as he's been there for me and mine.
We took her to the aquarium in Chattanooga, a gorgeous fun place. My youngest daughter came along on the trip, anxious to meet her new stepsister. Our oldest daughter had to work so she stayed home. But their support was amazing! Before we left town, our oldest told Rob that he shouldn't worry, that he would make a great father, because he already was a great father.
Above is Lyanna, the little cutie, and below is Sara, our other little cutie, in the butterfly room. She and Lyanna hit it off amazingly well.
He loved holding her. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen in my life.
Since then, she's been to visit us. It was a wonderful visit and we're planning another visit with her in about a week. He talks to her almost every night on the phone, reads her stories, as much as her four and a half year old attention span will allow. We're still learning, still trying to figure this out, but it will all work out. Things are only as complicated as you allow them to be, right? And it's not complicated to love this child, to enfold her into our lives.
Here's what I've learned:
1. The heart is ever expanding.
2. Forgiveness is a choice and so incredibly freeing.
3. Trust. Go out on a limb and trust that all is working out as it should. Because it always does.
4. My marriage is stronger than ever. My family has been strengthened by this lovely, new addition.
5. Embrace the curve balls...they turn into home-runs.
6. Family isn't always defined in traditional, biological terms. It is defined and shaped by love, encouragement and acceptance.
7. I have an amazing group of friends who know me, call me out when I need it, and still love me.
8. Never, never, never get too comfortable. Because change is inevitable and it's only through change that we grow. And who wants to be stagnant? Boring. I hate the merry-go-round!
So, that's it...for now.
Thanks for listening.