On the morning of my 40th birthday, my little brother sent me a text message that read, “welcome to 40 – husband, house in the suburbs and four kids. Happy birthday dear!” Sounds pretty standard – but on this glorious June day I had been married for eleven days, and in my new home for about 45 days. Instant family just shy of my 40th birthday.
I have always been what people refer to as a “late bloomer.” From an early age, I was behind my peers. I was pretty typical if not extremely awkward in my elementary school days. I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was 18. I didn’t date until I was in college. I wanted to be just like everyone else – but I just didn’t know how. It was standard teen angst stuff – I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say I was a little bit odd, a little bit chubby, and letting your freak flag fly wasn’t really a thing that was widely accepted. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want a freak flag. I wanted a blend-in-and-be-like-everyone-else-flag. After college, I spent several years in the wrong relationship with the wrong person – trying desperately to make it the be-all-end-all. I still wanted to be just like everyone else. All of my friends were part of couples. I planned baby showers and wedding showers and watched one-by-one as my friends plodded down the path that at the turn of the twenty first century was still a foregone conclusion for a nice girl graduating from a small Catholic Liberal Arts college in the Midwest. I was a bridesmaid seven times. Sometimes I wondered if the people that my friends were marrying were as important as the wedding itself. It was the main goal – get married, get a house, have a baby, all before you turn 28. I watched as creative and smart young women that I had gone to college with gave up their career aspirations for the SAHM life , and I couldn’t understand it. We grew apart. I was bored with going to events where I was the only single person. I resented them for looking at me with pitty because I was alone – and for insisting that I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to be married with kids and a house since I didn’t have any of those things. And I am sure they resented me too. Why couldn’t Jessica just be happy – either get on with it or get over it – but stop bringing the BBQ down. So I stopped going, or they stopped asking, and I forged a path in life that revolved around a career – not because I was some Type A power mogul – but because what else was there? I moved from one firm to another, better opportunities, better paycheck, better benefits. I bought a townhouse and a sports car and I tried to convince myself that I liked being alone. As the years moved on and I found myself in my mid-thirties I started to think maybe this was it. I had all but given up online dating – which as it turned out was a pitiful examination on what is wrong with society. One of the last conversations I had with my grandma was about online dating. I am sure she knew nothing of the hook-up nature of it all – but she was certain I wasn’t going to meet a suitable mate via an internet app. She passed away a week after that conversation. Three months later I met Dale. He asked me on a proper date. We met for coffee. I was late, but he forgave me and asked me on a second date. He was respectful and kind and smart and funny and Catholic. We went on several dates. He had been married before. He had four kids. We took our time. Sometimes it felt like things were progressing slowly. But we knew we wanted to be together. We both found in each other something that we hadn’t experienced before. It was amazing. It was what I had always wanted – but at the same time it was better. I believe that my grandma – from her place in heaven – had taken matters into her own hands and put Dale in my path because he was the one for me. All of the other nonsense that happened before that was so that I could be this version of myself standing beside him at the front of the church – telling him that I love him that day, and for all the days of my life. And so on my 40th birthday, my brother sent me that text message – and I think it was him being clever and smart as he is sometimes prone to be – but the fact is – even though it was a somewhat broken road to get here – I wouldn’t change it for anything – because this is the place that I am supposed to be and Dale is the person that I am supposed to be with.
So when all is said and done, I am another 40-something living in the suburbs with a husband and a brood of kids – it just took me while to get this “instant” family. Here you will find stories of the ups and downs of our adventure, and I promise to keep it real. I don’t aim to be another blog of soft focused perfect photos claiming that every day is sunshine and puppies and hashtag blessed. We for sure are blessed – but life is messy, and smelly and not always perfect. And to me, that is what makes it awesome.
I love cooking, decorating, fashion and being a wife to my best friend and stepmom to four amazing kiddos. I hope that you will find something that you can relate to here in this space.