The one that grabbed our hearts and won the $150 prize was this one — from Ricka Smith. Ricka, you made us cry with joy! Read her story below:
“MARRIED WITH CHILDREN” – OR SO IT SEEMED…
I have never given birth, I am not a foster or step- parent, nor have I adopted kids. My fiancée has never fathered children, he’s not a foster parent, nor has he adopted. However, for the past 5 years my fiancée and I have been “married with children”… or so it seemed to us and most people. What makes our story even stranger is that we have been in a relationship for 5 ∏ years…. So now I guess you’re wondering how are they “married with children”. I’ll start from the beginning…
Picture it: Tallahassee, FL 2005 a young lady celebrating her 21st birthday leaves one of the most popular clubs in haste as it is beginning to rain. She and her friends are rushing to the car holding hands (to prevent each other from falling, as the ground is beginning to get very wet, and they dare not fall in their cute stilettos, but I digress….). While focused on getting to the car and out of the rain a young man approaches one of the young ladies, but she refuses to stop, not wanting to mess up her birthday hair that she spent hours getting done. When the birthday girl refused to stop, the young man immediately jumped in between two of the friends and began to walk hand in hand with the young ladies while they searched for their car. As they walked the two exchanged some casual and witty conversation. The young lady not looking for anything serious politely turned the guy down when he asked for her telephone number. He was very persistent, and yet she still refused until he offered to take her to lunch (she was a college student and wouldn’t think of turning down a free meal!). After about 5 months of the two not looking for any more than friendship from each other, one random day they decided to escalate their friendship into a relationship. Although they didn’t think it would get too serious because they were both young college students, enjoying the carefree lifestyle that only requires worrying about yourself! Shocking to both, they had just begun their fairytale romance. They wined and dined each other, went to class together, supported each other financially, they even went to bed at the same time and asked their friends not to call them after a certain time, as to not disturb the other one from sleeping (strange for a young couple still in college). Friends would tease them and refer to them as an “old married couple”. This didn’t bother them in the least; they became so entwined in each other’s lives that one would think that they had been together for years. They somehow fit into each other’s lives perfectly, and fell comfortably in the role as a “married couple”. Not knowing that their “children” would be on the way soon, the couple enjoyed life as college students in a whirlwind romance.
As no fairytale can be complete without misfortune, this story is no different. In February of 2006 the young lady not even 22 yet received a frantic call from her Aunt, instructing her to come home immediately as her mother was very ill and the doctors didn’t expect her to live through the night. I will not discuss details about this trying and troublesome time in their lives, but I will briefly state that the young lady’s mother succumbed to her terminal illness. She made a promise to her mother that she would take care of her younger siblings, and she vowed to keep her promise. At the young age of 22 a college student with no kids of her own became the legal guardian of her two teenage sisters ages 13 and 16!! Oh boy, let the fun begin….
The couple was taken aback at how much their lives changed. Eating out in nice restaurants every night was replaced by cooking family meals, partying and living carefree became replaced with Parent teacher conferences and school performances, and house parties were replaced with teenage slumber parties. And so the story goes, they became “married with children”. During this time their relationship was tested as most are. But they remained grounded in the foundation that they had already laid for their relationship. They became stronger as a couple, closer as friends, united as “parents”/guardians and more appreciative of the alone time that they were lucky to get for romance. It should be mentioned that our couple didn’t give up their college student lifestyle completely; both remained in school and earned their Bachelor’s Degree in 2006 and 2008. Many people, especially their family members are surprised and elated that the couple could endure everything that they have at such a young age, and more importantly that their relationship continues to flourish through it all. Not many men, let alone young men would stay and help raise kids that have no relation to them. This young man took on the role as big brother without a second thought. As she became a mother to the girls he took on the father role. He’s protective of them, guides them in the right direction and even helps provide financial and emotional support.
Fast forward, 6 years later…. Both of the girls have graduated from High School. One has already left the nest for college, and the youngest will be leaving for college in TWO months. On May 1, 2011 over a relaxing picnic the young man decided to make the young woman his forever, and he proposed. After screaming, running around, and telling him to put the ring away, she finally calmed down enough to answer “yes”. Our couple is now engaged, and planning to have their Royal Wedding October 20, 2012. It has been a long process of: happiness, sadness, romance, friendship, frustrations, maturity and love. But they made it TOGETHER. They will now be officially, legally and spiritually married and one day with children of their own (but no time soon as they have just gotten the house to themselves)!!!! This is truly a testament that when two people are meant to be together LOVE will conquer all. Cliché? Yes of course it is, but if you have experienced true love you will know the value of that statement.
Ok, so if you’re still reading, and wondering who this fabulous young lady is…. it’s ME; the author of this lovely narrative. Aaron (my fiancé) and I have been together for about 5 ∏ years now and been “married with children” or so it seemed, for 5 of those years. Just as we were getting to really know each other and truly explore our love as a couple on a higher level, our relationship endured a major change. We have been through so many obstacles together, yet we somehow found a way to survive and more importantly, maintain a healthy relationship. Of course it wasn’t perfect; we had our share of break ups and make ups, of which the couple of days apart were thought of as the longest days EVER. As I reflect on our relationship, I have learned that we are imperfect individuals, with imperfect milestones, that are perfect for each other. Choosing to raise my sisters and become a “parent” at such a young age was beneficial to all involved. We laughed, we learned, and we loved. I am usually a fairly unlucky person, but my luck changed on my 21st birthday when I met Aaron. His heart is pure, his intentions are good, and he loves me unconditionally. What I did to deserve such a solid, entertaining, educating, and romantic relationship, I may never know. But I do know if I’m dreaming let me sleep…
Ricka, check your email inbox and we’ll get you set up with your $150 prize — use it toward anything on the Dawn site, from wedding invitations to ceremony accessories and reception accessories to favors and thank you notes!
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