When I wrote a blog post on HuffPost Divorce, "Top 10 Rules for Dating a Single or Divorced Mom," I never expected to meet the love of my life. But that's exactly what happened. A single dad who read the post, Michael Darter, sent me a heartfelt response... and we quickly discovered that we were tailor made for each other. Here's our story.
Overlooking the majestic, rocky coastline of Maine, white waves crashing under foot, the healing smell of salt water spritzing the air, the impossible happened. The guy who serendipitously responded to my HuffPost referendum on men got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.
Holy sh*t. Mine is the kind of modern-day fairytale that would inspire tears of empathy or an exaggerated eye roll if I was the one reading it, depending on my mood.
In true Jodi fashion, there were a few hiccups enroute to engagement. During our cliffside walk, my now fiancé (sidebar: I am annoying and use the word every time I possibly can) texted me a message: "Watch this and then look at me." He did it at a precise location, so we would stop at a picturesque bench where I could gracefully sit as he proposed marriage. His 8-year-old son was remarkably poised and ready to capture the moment his dad declared his love for me. It was meticulously rehearsed. Par for the course of my life, it didn't unfold as planned.
For the first time since, I don't know, I purchased my first 9-pound cell phone that doubled as a weapon back in the 90s, it wasn't glued to my hand. I was actually living in the moment, basking in the bliss... not checking email or Facebook. My only diversion was my 5-year-old son running too close to the edge of the cliff, with his hands triumphantly in the air, screaming "DRAGO!" (mild heart attack = missed text message).
He waited, and texted me again. Unknowingly, I ignored the man who leaves me sticky sweet notes of adoration taped to the inside of the refrigerator; the one who singlehandedly made me believe in soul-awakening, knee-weakening, all-consuming love; who teaches my beloved baby the right way to treat a woman by example; who truly admires all that I am and all that I hope to be; who I dreamed of my whole life but never expected to find; who both stimulates and soothes me; who opens my car door every single time; who knows the chambers of my heart more intimately than anyone ever will; the one my mom hand-picked for me after she died. Him. I was oblivious to him.
My head was stubbornly up my a$$, unwilling to come out to cue the whole proposal scene. Finally, he had to say, "Jodi, look at your text messages."
The video he wanted me to see was from Rocky II, when Rocky proposed to Adrian. Our unabashed love for all things Rocky was one of the earliest indicators of unrivaled relationship synergy. As I watched, I was consumed with thoughts, so much so that my internal dialogue was recently nominated for a Golden Globe. OMFG, is there going to be a message for me at the end of the video? Nah, he's just going to tell me that this is what he wants for us in the future. But maybe this is it. He could have a ring! Did he manage to buy a ring undetected? How could that be? I wish I got my nails done. Of course he will propose when I desperately need a fill. He could seriously propose! Don't start crying. He hasn't said anything yet.
As if my own silent chatter wasn't distracting enough, my son was hanging on me watching the video, asking the same question in a kid frequency only parents can understand. "Is Rocky going to fight, mommy?" "Ma! Is Rocky going to fight?" "Mom, mom, mooooommmmmmm ...is Rocky going to fight?" All I could do is say "no" in rapid fire succession, a cool thirty times in 30 seconds, out of the corner of my mouth. I didn't want to rock the angry mom face and a bad manicure at the same time.
"What are you doing for the next forty or fifty years?" he asked. "Will you marry me?"
He was down on one knee with a stunning ring he designed with three hearts (representing us and our two boys), at my favorite place, where my most cherished memories are etched in the landscape. He included the kids to give them the vision of when their parents got engaged, to solidify our beautifully blended family. He knew my answer. He knew it from the minute we met. He is the one I should have waited for. He's the one I wholeheartedly adore. He's the one who will help my son become a man, who will give him a brother. He is the only one, my forever one.
"Yes," I said, from the depths of my soul. "Yes!"