Max and James,
By the time you’re old enough to read this, you’ll probably think that anything that has to do with romance is gross, especially if it has to do with your mom and dad. That’s OK, but I think we have a pretty cool little story here, so I’m at least going to share it with you…
Dad and I first met sometime during the fall of 2003, on the third floor of Spellman Hall. Neither of us know exactly when or where, but Manhattanville was a small enough school that you couldn’t live on the same floor as someone and not know them, so we’ve just taken to assuming that’s when we met. This, boys, is romance at its finest.
I met your dad again during the last semester of our senior year. Two of our best friends were dating, and dad told his buddy that he was too intimidated to come talk to me. We spent a night with our friends at local bar, and the next week, we went on our first lunch date. Dad was a funny, confident, friends with everyone, life of the party hockey player, and I was a student government, a cappella group, Orientation leader, double major kind of girl. We were a bit of an unlikely match, but being around him was fun and easy, which was exactly what we both needed during our last semester of senior year. Since dad was moving back to Alberta right after we graduated, and I was staying in New York for grad school, there was no way for things to get too complicated or serious. Except, they did. We both decided that we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye at graduation in May (OK, I mostly decided that), but that maintaining a 3,000 mile long distance relationship right out of school wasn’t realistic or possible (OK, Dad mostly decided that). Somehow, though, we made it happen, and started to figure out how to build a relationship while we lived in two different countries.
I met an even better part of your dad while we dated long (looooooong) distance for almost three years. He kept me cracking up on the phone, in his emails and text messages, and through Facebook. We got really good at communicating, because that’s all you can do when you live 3,000 miles away. We got to visit each other and take some amazing vacations together, but it took lots of hard work to keep it going. Over those three years, we had more break ups and make ups than I care to count (including a real doozy in the Atlanta airport, but that’s another story), but we built a solid relationship, and soon, started to talk about when I’d move to Canada. Three and a half years after we went on our first date, Dad planned a surprise trip to Disney World (my favorite place!) and proposed. A week later, we packed up my car and started the week long drive to Alberta.
It was during this trip that I got to meet yet another side of your dad. We had just crossed the border that morning, and had to stop in White River, Ontario (population 600, home of Winnie the Pooh and the “coldest spot in Canada”) for the night. There was a motel on either side of the road, and he told me to pick where I wanted to stay. I chose the one that looked less “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, but during my standard 72 point hotel inspection, I found a hair in the bed. Without saying anything, Dad went to the front desk, got his money back, and we went across the street to the only other option for hundreds of miles. “Nic,” he said when he opened the door, “maybe just don’t look in the bed this time? But if you’re really uncomfortable here, we can drive through the night.” This side of your dad was supportive, calming, accommodating, and reassuring. I’d certainly seen these things before, but I hadn’t known just how deep they ran.
Since that long drive, we’ve moved in together, gotten married, lived in six houses (that’s life when you’re married to a Realtor!), had two awesome little humans (that would be you guys), changed jobs and careers, dealt with a challenging international move, and gotten ready to add baby number three to our family. Throughout all of it, your dad is still that supportive and steady voice of reason in my ear; through panic attacks, difficult births, big decisions, and when life’s every day nuisances just get overwhelming. We went on our first date ten years ago last month, and in the past decade, I’ve gotten to “meet” your dad as the college boyfriend, the friend to everyone, the ambitious business owner, the new husband, the nervous first time dad, the confident second time dad, and the fun family man. Soon, I’ll get to meet him again as the dad to a daughter, the preschool hockey coach, and the kindergarten dad. Eventually, he’ll be the driving instructor, the disciplinarian, the life coach, and the retired putter arounder, and I’m just as excited to meet these versions of your dad as I was to meet him the first time.