I didn’t think I’d remarry. Not because I’m against marriage or because I’ve decided I’m impossible to love, but it’s hard. Marriage is hard. And all that has to align for a second marriage to be successful? Even harder. It’s not enough to find one another attractive and inspiring, nor is it enough to be on the same page regarding religion and politics. Can he handle my baggage? Can I handle his? I’m working on myself and healing. Is he? The fact is, if you leave one marriage and enter another without having done any introspection or owning your role in its downfall, you will probably repeat it in the next relationship. My role in my last marriage? I’d say things tied to my neurodivergence were a factor, but I didn’t even know about my neurodivergence until after the marriage ended. But my now new fiancé Jared knows my baggage, has witnessed some of the more tricky neurodivergent traits within me (including being so deeply feeling that it can be distracting, even debilitating), and has freely shared about the work he has done and continues to do on himself since his last marriage. He knows what he’s getting. I know what I’m getting.
Ah, but there’s more! How do we navigate stressful times together? What happens when his ex and I are on different pages? Or he and my ex? Does he want to be a father figure to more kids? Does he like my kids? Can we blend our families together? Do we have enough money to expand our current families? Kids are expensive. Like, really expensive.
Apparently, somehow, I found positive answers to all of the above. My relationship with Jared is pretty damn healthy and I’m not taking it for granted. We both knew we were headed toward marriage early on in our relationship. We liked one another and came with a toolbox of relationship “must-haves'’ including finding home within ourselves, not needing one another but wanting one another, plenty of laughter and sarcasm and the ability to repair conflict in a healthy manner. But do you know what makes me know this time around will last forever? I get to be completely myself. I get to dance in this relationship as a free bird, celebrated for being the free bird I am. I knew we’d take it to the next level since we just… fit. Everything aligned. I just didn’t know exactly when.
Picture this: Mere days after Christmas. Jared’s son and my two kids — including a whining, bundled-up toddler and my head-to-toe-in-pink, hot-and-cold 6 year old — were trudging up a snowy mountain trail near our house. His son, of course, was completely content, focused on his job of carrying the water bottles in his new backpack from Christmas. It seemed like a fairly typical moment in life, even kind of magical in its simplicity and normalcy.
We got to our turnaround spot on the hike that was marked with a wooden fort the kids started playing in. Jared looked at me said how pretty I was and that he wanted to take a photo out here in the snowy wonderland. While snapping a couple of photos I hear, “Mom! Meg! Mom! Meg!” coming from two little mouths who had just been exploring the fort. I turn to them as they blurt out simultaneously, “Look what we found!” There, in the deep snow was a very familiar blue-colored box. Before Jared could say anything, I turned to him and said, “How did you get them to keep a secret?” I repeated this half a dozen times.
Jared got on one knee, laughing and projecting a quiet tenderness in his baby blue eyes. The question happens. The response is immediate. The older two kids are jumping up and down and cheering. The toddler is walking around in circles with a quizzical expression as he says on repeat: “Are you guys may-weed? Are you guys may-weed?” What a confused little buddy.
Jared and I explained to the kids that we would be husband and wife and they would become brothers and sisters to one another. We’d move into the same house and start a family. They smiled at that idea, ready to expand their sibling status in numbers. We then explained, as we had several times before, that I would not replace Jared’s son’s mom, and he would not replace my children’s father. We would simply be adults in their lives that would love them unconditionally and for forever. We even encouraged them to not call us “Mom” or “Dad” out of respect for the roles our exes have in our children’s lives.
As I recount the details of that magical, messy hike there’s something all-too-priceless about the whole thing. There’s something that took my breath away: Jared included the kids in on the proposal. He had asked them a week in advance to keep the proposal a secret and showed the kids the ring (what serious voodoo does Jared know about in getting a kid to keep their mouth shut that we don’t?) and asked them their thoughts on us becoming husband and wife. He asked not only a question of me but of my kids. We all were asked, because we are a package deal and he loves all of us. We all were and are wanted. I am the luckiest.
Meg Raby is a mom, children's author of the My Brother Otto series, and Autistic residing in Salt Lake City where you can find her playing and working with neurodivergent children as a Speech Language Pathologist and friend, or writing and planning big things in the second booth at her local coffee shop that overlooks the Wasatch Mountains while sipping on her Americano. Meg believes the essence of life is to understand, love and welcome others (aka, to give a damn about humans).
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