The Best Presents

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of cool presents. Cool clothes, a Super NES, a bicycle, Transformers, a family scrapbook. But there’s one gift that tops them all. Actually, there are three: my family.

I’ve been blessed to have such a loving family. Through them, they’ve helped me to become a better person. I’ve heard it said that you change when you get married and have children. That change doesn’t happen automatically. I can say that you have to be willing to change because it’s not just about you. You have to be willing to sacrifice and work hard to see everyone is healthy and happy. Maybe not happy all the time, but to a point where they feel confident that you will take care of them. After fourteen years and two kids, I’m still learning better ways to provide for my family. But that’s what life is about. It’s about the experiences and continuing to grow.

Colleen and I have been married for fourteen years, but we’ve known each other longer. We’ve experienced good and bad times, but have gotten through them together. Like me, she has a creative side. Her passion is photography. Give her a camera and she’ll take some amazing shots. She is eager to learn about cultures and wants to pass it along to the rest of us. Speaking of which, she loves trying foods from different regions of the world. And not the “Americanized” versions. And it also shows in her cooking. She has a Pinterest board of meals she wants to try. I love how upfront and honest she is. If she likes or doesn’t like something, she’ll tell you and makes no apologies for it. That’s something I need in my life.

Early in our relationship, Colleen and I talked about what it would be like to have children. We joked, but serious at the same time, about what we would name our children. It became real when we got married. We went through a lot, but we are blessed with two wonderful children. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have.

Zoe is very inquisitive. She wants to know everything about the world. Science is her favorite subject at school. She’s also very creative. At any time, she’ll break out a song or ad lib dialogue as if she’s quoting lines from movies. I like how she wants to help out around the house, especially when it comes to cooking. She’s not afraid to show her emotions and express her opinions. We’re working with her on being tactful and mindful of what she says. Still, I admire that quality. She’s also very compassionate and in tune to emotions. Whenever she sees me or Colleen down in the dumps, she’s quick to give us a hug because she knows we need one.

Jaxon is our shining star, brightening a room wherever he goes. As some of you guys know, he’s autistic. But he’s so much more. He loves his cars. Doesn’t matter the size. Doesn’t matter the color. I think he’ll be a mechanic. Like Zoe, he has an affinity for science. He loves learning about the solar system. There’s a t-shirt with the planets on it. Take that away and you’ll regret it right away. He loves reading everything and he’s a good speller. Colleen says that he will be a smart mouth. I’m kind of not looking forward to that phase, but I know it’s coming. Flip him when you pick him up and you’ll get an infectious laugh out of him. And just like Zoe, he’s a sensitive soul when it comes to family. He hates seeing or hearing anyone cry.

When I was younger, I didn’t think I would get married. I didn’t think I would be a father. And yet, there are certain things I said if I had reached those goals. I said I would be the dad my dad wasn’t. I said I would provide for my wife and kids the way they deserved to be. Colleen, Zoe, and Jaxon are the best gifts I could have asked for as they are helping me to be the husband and parent I set out to be. There are some lessons I’m still learning, like being patient and sensitive. I’m also learning to be a man of my word. Being a husband and father is not easy by any means, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.

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