I met Dowlan at our church when I moved to Austin to go to college at UT. He had just finished his second bachelor's degree at the Institute for Christian Studies and was still hanging around with college kids, despite his advanced age. (He is ten years older than me.) I knew him for about three years before our first date, and it is a good thing I didn't dawdle any longer, because my college roommate Kelcy had already offered to have his children. Who knew what other women were waiting to ensnare him?
Dowlan is FABULOUS with kids. He was once described to someone by our campus minister as, "You know, Dowlan. The tall guy who is always wearing all the kids after church and making them airplanes with the bulletins." That description worked perfectly, because the person then instantly knew who Brian was talking about.
So Kelcy, who barely knew him, was making polite, general conversation with him one day and said, "You know, you should have a lot of kids someday." What Dowlan heard was, "You know, WE should have a lot of kids someday."
Although Kelcy is a beautiful girl and incredibly hot, Dowlan backed away slowly, stammering something about, "But I don't really know you."
Oddly enough, how he got his wife was not all that different from that conversation.
Before Dowlan, I was in a three year relationship with a wonderful, intelligent, incredibly funny man. Unfortunately, we were incredibly toxic for one another. After the breakup, I began examining my life in a lot of ways. One area was dating.
See, I was 20 and realized, as I saw all my friends a few years older marching down the aisle, that it was time to be a little more discerning when it came to men because I was getting to be of the age where who I dated actually mattered and could impact the rest of my life. I realized that you could easily fall in love with just about anyone once you were dating him, so my new standard needed to be that I was only going to date men who were good enough to spend my life with.
So I made a list of characteristics and standards. As I went through them, I found myself saying things like, "I want to marry a man who is generous and giving and will go out of his way to help other people. Someone who will stop on the side of the road to aid people who are stranded and who will give his time to helping and working at our church. Like Dowlan, only not so old and dorky."
"And I want to marry someone who is good with kids. The kind that will be a devoted husband, devoted father, and really hands-on with his kid. Not afraid to play with the baby or change a diaper, not just wanting to come home and watch TV and leave me to the kids at the end of a day, or asking where his dinner is and why it wasn't on the table at 5:00. Someone who will be really devoted to kids and active in their lives. Like Dowlan would be, only not so old and dorky."
Same thing with independent, intelligent, God-seeking, -loving, and -fearing. And then I got to thinking, "Why not Dowlan?" Yes, he is ten years older than me, but he is a good man.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to marry this man. And I could envision being married to him, sharing a life with him, raising kids with him, serving God beside him. But the thought of kissing him? He was too much of a friend--it just seemed weird.
At that point in my life, I still had a lot of work on myself to do. I was just coming out of the relationship with the guy before him and dealing with some other drama in my life and I wanted to make sure i was whole and ready to stand on my own as a person before I entered another relationship.
Every day I prayed: "God? Dowlan?" and God would answer, "Wait." See, I've always thought that there were only three answers to prayer: Yes, No and Wait. And I waited. I grew and I healed and I waited. And every day for six months I heard "Wait."
I know I am really going on and if anyone is still reading, I'm glad. The main reason for my blog is to have all this recorded for my children to have someday and I am writing this for you AND for them. And I want them to have ever detail and feeling of this story.
In the interim, I ended up in the hospital for a few days. Dowlan came to visit me and was leaving just as my parents arrived. My parents had met him 4-5 times over the last three years. As dowlan left, my dad asked, "So, when are you going to start dating Dowlan?"
I just about stopped breathing at this point. I was worried about what my parents thought when I started dating someone ten years older than me. So I answered, "Dad! He's too old for me!" My dad's answer? "That doesn't matter. You have to start dating him, so you can marry him."
My mother was gasping and staring bug-eyed at my father at this point.
Three months later, I asked, "God? Dowlan?" and didn't get an answer. I got really antsy. A week later, Dowlan asked me out to go see The Tigger Movie. That story is hysterical and I need to stick it in here at some point.
But that is how we started: I decided that I wanted to have his children. A couple years later, I graduated from college and began teaching on the same day in August. That November, we became engaged. (Also a funny story. A gun was involved. And a train station. And a pair of pliers, sinus headache and a trip to the grocery store.)
We bought our house in December, I moved in in January, Dowlan moved his stuff in when we got married in March, Dowlan married my brother 20 days later, I got pregnant in April. Melody was born the next January. My maternity leave of six weeks ended the day before our first anniversary. Two-and-a-half years later, Charlie was born. Five months later, Dixie came home with us. It has been a wild ride.
In two months we will celebrate our 5th anniversary by getting away from the three children we've managed to collect in those five years and having a nice weekend where we will either talk about the kids or stare at each other, trying to remember something other than the kids that we could talk about. Property taxes and getting the car fixed don't count.