(Partly) Before Children: The Change by Mysti Reutlinger

Topic: Before Children

I met my husband when my seven-year-old son was two. Before Rob, I was a single Mom living my life with Jaden. I managed a restaurant and bar in a little town in Wyoming. The hours I worked, many nights until 3 or 4 am, meant that I wasn’t a full-time parent. Jaden had a fabulous sitter who kept him over night until around 8 am each morning so I could get some sleep. He wouldn’t return to her until moments before I was due back at work to begin another shift.

My husband and I initially met in April of 2006. Something about him caught my attention, though I didn’t know what it was. He sat at the other side of the bar and drank his Coors Light while I mixed and poured drinks for the handful of patrons in the bar. When I had a moment, I would pop over and chat with him about life. Our conversations weren’t deep, but they stuck with me. It was many months before I saw Rob again. He happened into the bar on a Tuesday night. The bar was quiet, less one group of girls shooting pool in the back corner. As Rob and his friend Troy walked up to the bar, I grabbed a Coors Light and passed it his way. Then made a drink for Troy.

That night we talked. For hours. That warm August night, turned into morning. What should have been a short night for the two of them ended sometime after 4 am, as we went for coffee to keep on talking. We talked so long that Troy eventually left, assuming I could get Rob home safely. A couple more cups of coffee later, we decided it was time to go. I dropped Rob off at his apartment. Before he got out of my car, we talked for another fifteen minutes or so. He mentioned that his apartment was on the middle floor and the closest corner to where I was parked. Moments before he opened the door of my car to head inside, he asked that I give him a call.

I sat there waiting to see that he made it inside safely, a habit I found taking home some of my staff at night. Instead of just leaving then, I watched the lights turn on in the corner apartment he discussed moments before. I contemplated calling him, having joked about waiting three days. As I caught a shadow dance across a window, I dialed his number from my cell phone. When he answered, I said, “I’ve now called you and the ball is in your court, buddy.”

Later that day, he called.

We had great times while I was a part-time parent. We dated. We would watch movies, grab a bite to eat, hosted weekly parties to watch Heroes on TV, and attended a concert. We learned about one another without the responsibilities of life breathing down our necks. I never hid being a parent and put Jaden first. When we started dating, there was a no-stress, no-strings, all-honest policy between us. But as time passed, we grew closer. Our friendship built into something strong. In what seemed like a short time, Rob had become a friend I could count on for anything. And then it happened. He asked to meet my son.

With one quick change, life became real, intense, and hard. Our time together was no longer just about he and me. . . he grew to adore this tantrum-throwing toddler I proclaimed as my own. Within a short period, Rob cared for my son as his own. I’ll never forget sitting on the couch at his apartment with Jaden between us, watching Over the Hedge. Jaden placed one hand on my shoulder and said, “My mom.” Then he looked up at Rob with his big brown eyes, stretched his had out to Rob’s shoulder and said, “My dad.”

Suddenly, everything changed. We became a family.

6 Responses to “(Partly) Before Children: The Change by Mysti Reutlinger”
  1. hawleywood40 says:

    That last line made my eyes well up : ).

  2. Alexandra says:

    Beautiful. So happy to hear of this loving connection, and what a heartwarming moment at the end, where Jaden makes the three of you a family. Love it!

  3. TJ Alexian says:

    Don’t you love that “we talked all night for hours” part of the relationship? You know you’re starting off right when that happens.

  4. This is beautiful, Mysti. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Heiddi says:

    Mysti, I LOVE this! As a single mom starting to date, this is a great reference for me to remember while looking for my prince. I hope that I can have a love connection like this. 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!

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