I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, let alone a husband, when I met Russell.
I had been married before and had gone through a rough divorce. I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to get married again.
One night, I was out with a friend for a girls’ night out in Jackson Ward. Suddenly, I saw a man walking towards me. He was wearing a sleeveless Hawaiian shirt and aviator sunglasses. He was covered in tattoos and had a huge handlebar moustache and mutton-chop sideburns. He walked with a distinct swagger and looked me up and down, drawling to my friend Amy (they were friends), “I didn’t know you had hot friends!” Needless to say, I was not amused.
Never in a million years did I think I was meeting the father of my future children.
This man was persistent. He pursued me for months before I agreed to go out with him. When I finally did, I realized that his brash persona was all an act to protect himself. We all put up walls when we’re vulnerable.
Fast forward two years. I was dating the sleeveless shirt guy, and things were pretty serious. We had survived a breakup, dating long distance, and the adoption of two puppies. Then things hit a major turning point—the moment I knew this was the man I wanted to marry.
During a late night conversation, he shared something with me. He told me that ever since he was a little boy, his biggest dream was to be a daddy. More than anything, his fondest wish was to raise a family.
It all clicked into place then. Not too long after, we were married, and then within a few months, I was pregnant.
I couldn’t ask for a better father to my children.
He has built beds and two story treehouses for them. He has taught them to fish, to cook, and to build things. He dressed as a banana when our son wanted to be a gorilla for Halloween. He has held our daughter for hours when she couldn’t sleep. He has our son’s drawings tattooed on his arm. He loves being a father more than anything on earth.
Appearance-wise, you wouldn’t think he was such a softie—beard, shaved head, lots of tattoos, usually a gruff look on his face. But really, he is a sensitive, caring, gentle soul. He is the most generous person I have ever met. He works so hard every day but is never too tired for his family.
What I’ve learned is that appearances can be deceiving.
Marriage and parenthood are never what you expect. Fatherhood brought to light aspects of my husband that I would not otherwise have seen. It is amazing and transformative.
Don’t judge a book by its cover; you gotta open it up to see what is going on inside.