Chapter 10: Walls of Protection

The weekend was over way too fast. After Sunday morning church together, I fixed him lunch in my little tiny kitchen…. which he still says was the best grilled cheese sandwiches he’s ever had 🙂
Soon goodbyes were said and he was headed back to Tulsa. My boys came home a couple of hours later from their weekend visit, and I decided to tell them about my fun-filled weekend (the version that 2 little guys could grasp anyway). That short 5 minute talk mainly consisted of: “Mom has a new friend that’s Aunt Pam’s neighbor, he came to see me, we went to church and had a lot of fun.” I’m not sure Caleb even heard, since he was busy enjoying being home and digging out toys he had missed over the weekend; but I’ll never forget Charley’s sweet smile as he caught every word I said. Then he just came over and gave me a big hug. That said it all. Eventually, Caleb would actually catch on that Mom had a fun weekend. I didn’t make a huge deal about it, still unsure what it all meant. I knew I was feeling some crazy things in my heart, but I wasn’t sure where exactly Mike was with his thoughts. I knew he was very attracted to me, but I also was very aware he hadn’t actually met the boys yet,and they were a HUGE part of my life. We were a sort of “package deal,” and I did live a whole state away….I could see where he might think it as too complicated. I brushed it out of my mind , and decided to focus on the fact that I had just experienced a pretty perfect weekend. I was feeling very blessed.
If I remember correctly, he called later that evening to tell me he was back in Tulsa and to tell me again thanks for a fun weekend. He said,”I listened to Lionel Richie on the way home, and I thought about you a lot!” I told him that I had told my boys about my “friend” and one of them (can’t remember who) asked to say hi to him over the phone. He talked to both boys very briefly. When I got back on the phone, he told me he would really like to meet them; and I realized for the first how much I really wanted them to meet him and he-them.
It was probably the next conversation, maybe the next evening, that he threw out a possible option. He had thought up a plan, wanted to run it by me and see what I thought. His plan was for the boys and me to go to Ft Smith, Arkansas, and meet him there (about a half way in between place). He would get two rooms. The boys and I would have our own room/suite, and he would have his. We could spend the weekend there in Ft. Smith, sort of a “get to know Charley and Caleb weekend.” I was immediately excited and said yes, as long as I could make it work. He said he would pay for my gas and all expenses (always such a gentlemen), and when I mentioned it to the boys they were beyond thrilled. Just going on a little trip to Ft Smith was a very big deal. I’m not sure they thought much past that part 🙂
The next day (Wednesday) I had a dozen beautiful red roses waiting for me when I got home from classes; my head was spinning in a whirlwind of excitement.
This was a huge step for me to be ready for the boys to be in on the equation. It was a bit risky because Mike and I had still not mentioned the word love to each other; in fact we didn’t even end our letters “with love.” I think I was afraid if that word. I certainly didn’t want to throw it out there, carelessly. No, the next time I said that word I would be sure.
My boys were very adorable, but of course I wondered what he would think of them, what they would think of him. There were so many questions running through my head as Friday drew closer and closer, and the trip became more of a reality. My emotions were on the cautious side. I felt that protective wall around my heart getting reinforced. I could sense that this was a much bigger step, and believe me it was bigger than I could have imagined…this weekend would not be like the others. No, this one was a game changer, a life changer in fact.
I could not have imagined, but soon it would be Friday night and I would live it.


Chapter 12: Everything Changes

After dinner at Denny’s, we headed back to the hotel and a much anticipated swim in the indoor pool for the boys.
When we arrived back we went our separate ways with the plan that the boys and I would meet Mike by the pool after the swim suits were on. I’m pretty sure the door was barely closed before the boys were dressed in theirs. The excitement was building as they tried to patiently wait for me by the door. I’m not sure how many times in that few minutes I said the words, “Hold your horses!” Haha. Even though we were slow, from the boys view, we still beat Mike to the pool. I’ve posted a picture at the bottom of them waiting in the chairs for him to arrive. I’m SO glad I took pictures that night, since it wasn’t as handy as it is now with cell phones; but I had managed.
What a fun hour or so (I don’t recall how long) but from the pool to the hot tub to the pool and so on, I watched as they interacted with Mike and got rid of some of their energy. He was very patient with them, and I could tell he was genuinely having fun. They were talking to him non stop and laughing and saying (about a million times each), “Hey, watch this!!!”
They were trying to impress him, and it worked; he was very impressed. As you can imagine, we didn’t get to talk much during this time; but that was ok because this weekend was about him and the boys more than anything, or at least that was the plan 🙂
Around 10:00pm we finally talked them into drying off and heading back to the room. They were intent on wanting Mike to hang out with us longer, and I wasn’t about to argue against it. After all, I still wanted to visit with him as well. I knew eventually they would fall asleep and I would have him to myself, but until then I was perfectly happy and enjoying watching him with my little guys. So he headed to his room to change and we did the same after he accepted our invitation to come back over and hang out with us in our room.
The boys were starving after such a fun swim. Mike took them to the vending machines when he came over and even that was such fun for them.
I was very proud of them with the exception of Caleb embarrassing me half to death at dinner with his proclamation of, “My momma’s gona’ buy me a ‘tep-daddy” … had gone very smoothly. There was a connection between Mike and the boys that could not have been fabricated; it was amazing to watch, and I remember thinking how good he was with them.
I felt like the boys were starving for a “daddy” to be honest, and this was a gift to them. I watched this play out that evening, and I was drawn to Mike even more than I had imagined. It really scared me because for the first time, I KNEW I loved him and that made NO sense to me. “How could I possibly love him?” I thought to myself, and then refused to think about it again; but within a few minutes those thoughts would come back in my mind, and I seemed to be powerless over them. I felt vulnerable, scared, full of doubts, almost panicked. I felt the walls I had built up so strong for protection against any heartbreak, being chipped at…..little by little….”But what if he doesn’t love me? I mean really love me…;” but then I’d catch his eye, and we would exchange smiles and my insecurities would vanish (at least for awhile).
We tucked the two very tired little boys into bed and then went back into the living room area and sat on the couch together. I think we had planned on watching TV together for awhile but somehow instead we sat there talking for hours.
Almost from the first few minutes of quiet, our time seemed different than any other times we had spent together talking. We talked about a lot of things that night; in fact, we talked until almost 2:00am. Eventually our conversation came back around to Caleb’s comments at dinner, and we laughed. Somehow it didn’t seem as big a deal as it had earlier to me in the restaurant. All he had wanted was to be heard; and when Mike patted him on the head and smiled, it was all Caleb needed. In fact I guess it was all Mike needed as well. For it was that very night, after hours of talking, that he would look me in the eye and tell me for the very first time that he loved me. I found myself telling him that I felt the same, even though all the while my brain was screaming, “No, it’s too soon, what are you doing?” After all we had only known each other a total of 36 days. Yes that’s not a typo: 36 days… and the boys he’d only known for a few hours…”This is crazy,” I thought. “I’m setting myself up to be hurt; I can’t do this.” He held me close and told me he had never felt this way before, and promised he would never hurt me. By this time I had shared enough on different occasions that he knew the insecurities I held; he knew about my wall of protection that I had spent time building up. I’m sure he knew my heart (though for the most part healed) still showed signs of trauma. The scars were still there, even though not as visible as at one time, still there as a reminder of rejection and heartbreak. It felt like Mike could see all of that, but could also see past all of that, and what my heart could look like if it was given to him.
What I didn’t know till later was that during the same time frame when I was being served with divorce papers, almost a year earlier, Mike had decided he wanted to find someone that he could love and eventually marry. He had been so busy with his business he never dated any one girl more than a time or two.
So during that time he asked God to give him a wife and a couple of kids :)…..which I just happened to have:)
He realized soon after meeting me, that I was the answer to his prayer.
How special this night was as we talked. I felt like every prayer I had ever prayed was being answered in those gentle, quiet moments with him.
So you see when Caleb told Mike earlier in the evening, that I was going to buy him a ‘tep daddy, I could not have imagined before the night was over, Mike would tell me he loved me for the first time; but that’s not all…..he would also ask me to be his wife…or as I always like to put it, “He asked US to marry him.” After all, we were a package deal, and it was just the family package Mike had prayed for, as well as the “‘tep-daddy” Caleb had prayed for in his little song.

Philippians 1:6
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.