While Hannah always celebrated her “birthday month”, John’s birthday is also in March, the day after Hannah’s, on the 19th, so I wanted to take a moment today to wish John a very happy birthday. He’s been my rock through this journey we’re on together, and he deserves to be celebrated today too. Our “first date with Hannah” story is one that we laugh hysterically about now, but in all seriousness, it reflects what a good man he is, and taught me that while love is easy in the good times, he was also willing to be there for the ‘not so good’ too.
John and I met when Hannah was six years old, in late summer of 2005. She was always a ball of energy, and she certainly gave him a run for his money from the very beginning of our relationship. After a few dates, we decided it would be nice to introduce Hannah by going to one of the local Monmouth County farms together to pick out a pumpkin. We had a great time together, picked out a couple of nice pumpkins, and I was thinking, wow, this is really great! That is, until we went to check out with our pumpkins. A little backstory about Hannah, she never met a gift shop that she didn’t love, the kid was obsessed with all the little crap in gift shops and could spend hours searching for the perfect item. So, I cringed when I saw that you had to go through the big gift shop to pay for your pumpkins! I told her she could pick out ONE thing from the shop, so she was looking and looking…finally I told her she needed to make her decision so we could finish up and take our pumpkins home. She started whining and said, “but I can’t decide, I want these two things…” (mom, I know you're laughing right now). I said, no, you can only have one, and she continued to whine. Finally, I gave her an ultimatum and said if you can’t choose one, we’re going to leave without anything from the shop. By this time, John had gone ahead to pay for the pumpkins and was walking in the parking lot when I can imagine he turned around in horror when he saw me walking towards him with Hannah hauled under my left arm, her thrashing and screaming like a lunatic. She had continued to whine and beg for the two items, so being the mom that follows through, I dragged her out of there literally kicking and screaming! Never in her life had she thrown a tantrum like that, there’s always a first time, I guess, and this was it! All I remember is that I got to the car with her, somehow got her strapped into her carseat, and then proceeded to get in myself. We had taken my car, so poor John was in the passenger seat with Hannah screaming and kicking his seat the entire ride back to his house. At one point, I cranked up the music on the radio to drown out her screaming! Poor John, I think he was in shock at that point! As we arrived at his house, he asked if we wanted to come in (probably didn’t know what else to say) but I was so horrified, I declined and said thank you for the pumpkins, but I think we better go home. At this point in the story, I think 99% of men would have run and never looked back, but he did just the opposite – as he got out of the car, he opened Hannah’s door, leaned in and talked softly to her. Whatever he said in the moment completely calmed her and she stopped crying. She fell asleep on the way home and I remember my mom called me to ask, “so, how was your date?” I’ll never forget telling her, “oh, he’s such a nice guy, but he’s NEVER going to call me again!” Well, as we all know, he did call me again, and the rest is history. The reason I share this story is because John doesn’t get nearly enough credit, he is an incredible guy and loved Hannah dearly. It’s certainly not easy when you suddenly have an ‘instant family’ but that’s what we became. On our wedding day, John not only married me, but he presented Hannah with her own ring so she knew without a doubt that he would always be there for her in her life, just as he would be for mommy too.
So, happy birthday to my love, and thank you for loving us all, especially Hannah, in the good times and the crazy.
Oh, and for anyone wondering, she never threw another tantrum like that again! Another funny story, years later when she was about 9, she and I were school shopping at the mall at a store called Justice (the ‘hip’ store for kids that age back then). We picked out a few things together and got in line to check out. While there, I noticed a girl about her age being extremely rude to her mother & grandma – they had armfuls of clothes for her and she was screaming she wanted more and just being a brat. I didn’t say a word, but Hannah walked over to me, tugged on my shirt and said, “mommy, if that was me you would drag me out of here by my ears”!!! Well, not by her ears, but yes, we would have been leaving, for sure! Guess my life lesson all those years before paid off!
As we continue our 31 days of shared stories in honor of Hannah’s birthday month, today we celebrate John, so happy happy birthday!!!