If you had told me a little over five years ago that I’d meet an incredible person, fall in love with both he and his daughter, build a home with him and get married – I wouldn’t have believed it. Nathan gave a brief introduction to our relationship, but I wanted to share how my life became interwoven with Nathan, Barbara and Sydnee.
After Nathan and I met, we were just with/around each other constantly. It sounds cliché, but there was truly such a connection between the two of us – we were meant to find one another. I knew he was recently out of not just a relationship, but a marriage, and that he had a daughter. Neither of those things were “scary” for me, but he was the only person I’d ever been interested in who was divorced and a parent, so we were both in unfamiliar territory. In true fashion, we just hung out for a couple of months without labeling it and then, one night on our way to Nathan’s house he nonchalantly says, “I called you my boyfriend tonight. I hope you’re okay with that.”
“Sure,” I said. And that was that.
We proceeded to date and get to know one another for a couple of months before he asked if I wanted to meet Barbara – which was rightfully a prerequisite for meeting Sydnee. Nathan wasn’t a big talker about his feelings, but in his own way, let me know how important Barbara was to him from day one. We made plans to grab drinks with her at a local bar – in my head I knew that meeting this person was going to be make or break for Nathan and I, and I really, really liked him…
I went to the mall and picked up a coral-colored polo, which I still have in my closet. (I recently told Syd that it was the shirt I was wearing when I first met her mom – she thought it was pretty cool.) Barbara was an incredibly kind, warm person and I’ll never forget Nathan getting up to go to the restroom and immediately after Barb and I were exchanging phone numbers and talking and laughing. She is the epitome of an amazing, strong person. Not many ex-wives could, or would, sit at a table with their ex-husband’s boyfriend and laugh. Needless to say, I got one – maybe two – thumbs up from her.
Fast forward a few weeks after meeting Barb, Nathan made plans for us to meet she and Sydnee at a local “farm” in the middle of Springfield where we could feed some ducks. I. WAS. NERVOUS. At this time, Sydnee was just two-and-a-half years old. For being so young, she was so smart and funny and had the shortest, curliest blonde hair. We played and had a great time. After we left the farm to go get lunch, Barb text Nathan to say that Sydnee told her I was “Cute!” Thinking back on that day, meeting her, playing with she and Nathan, feeding the ducks – it’s in the top three of my favorite memories ever.
I was never opposed to having a child in my life, but biologically, it wasn’t a probability. I think most LGBT individuals feel that way. Five years later, I don’t know what my life would be like without Sydnee. After the farm, Nathan, Sydnee and I began spending more time together and we built a strong bond. She doesn’t say it as often as she used to, but when she was younger and introduced me to people or talked about me, she referred to me as, “My Chris.” There are so many cute stories I could share, but my favorite is from a day when Barb, Zach and Syd were discussing eye color – Sydnee has beautiful blue eyes – and she was trying to figure out who she got her blue eyes from… guess who else in her family has blue eyes? Me. So, guess who she reasoned must have given her blue eyes? Me. I may not be one of her biological parents, but I love that child like she is my own – she is one of my great loves.
Five years later, she’s still so smart and funny, and her curly blonde hair is finally getting longer. I know how to make her favorite tacos because I know what foods she “likes but doesn’t love.” I’ve turned her into a tiny politician who is obsessed with the idea of voting. I’ve watched her get taller, become a ballerina, lose teeth, master lyrics to T-Swift songs, learn how to swim, start preschool, kindergarten and first grade – and I can’t wait to officially be her stepdad in 99 days!