Yet, our marriage was not the only thing that came out of that little elopement ceremony in a tiny little chapel on Capital Hill in Seattle. An equally important union created that day: the creation of our family. The Mister not only became a husband, but a father.
I am a very lucky woman to have married a man who so willingly, happily and openly welcomed Hatfield into his heart and his life. Especially when we live at a time where society kind of turns a blind eye to "deadbeat dads" or dads who bring a ton of toxicity and poor relationships into their children's lives. She was not his "burden to bear," yet, he never looked at her as a burden, but only as a joy.
Cliff has always put Hatfield and her happiness and her best interest first in his life. He has never felt threatened by or stepped in the way of her relationship with her bio dad. Last year, the Mister bought Hatfield and I plane tickets to Washington so she could see her birth grandparents and birth dad and his family as her 13th birthday present. And this past May, when Hatfield's bio dad came out to visit, Cliff went for a 6-mile run with him one morning, just the two of them. I am so grateful for my husband's ability to always, always take the high road and show his love for his girl.
Every day, I marvel at the close and wonderful relationship these two people have with one another. "Experts" say that one of the greatest indicators as to whether a teen girl will be "successful" (as in, graduate high school, not get pregnant, go to college, have healthy relationships with teachers and peers) is whether or not she has a healthy relationship with her father.
Now, Hatfield is a great person. She's been a delight to raise. Those years when it was just her and I (and Ernie) are among the absolute happiest of my life. I'm sure Hatfield would have turned out just fine had it been her and I.
But, her relationship with her Dad is phenomenal, and I think that has added so much more into the person she has become.
Hattie cracking up at Dad's attempt to make a scary face
Cliff is great at talking to her when I am bent out of shape, at working things out through emotional or horror-monal times. He is always happy and willing to drive carpool, do late night dance pick ups, or get his girl ice cream at the end of a long day.
My mother once commented how she loves to see Hatfield jump into the front seat of Cliff's car and watch them laugh as they share a joke or try to find a mutually agreed upon song on the radio.
Hatfield has loooongggg loved all things scary. She certainly shares that with her Dad, as he has introduced her to the likes of The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and all sorts of other creepy things (my list is poor because I DO NOT LIKE SCARY!) When her birth dad visited in May, she watched The Woman in Black with her Dad and her birth dad. Clearly, scary runs on the paternal side in Hattie, as both her Dads like scary (and I DO NOT LIKE SCARY!!)
This year, we found out that a local haunted house operates with volunteers, and that the minimum volunteer age is 14. Meaning, Hatfield is old enough to work at the haunted house.
Most of the people working it are 15-25, so no way were we going to send Hatfield there by herself. So the Mister made sure she was able to work there by volunteering and going along with her.
Case in point as to why we didn't let her go alone: One day while standing in make-up line, a 21-year old guy chatted it up with Cliff. Then he noticed Hatfield standing behind Cliff, and clearly didn't make the connection (people don't often assume that the lily white blond girl is the Asian guy's daughter.) He side-stepped Cliff and approached Hatfield.
"Hi, I'm Robert, but all my friends call me Mac." Puts his hand out for Hatfield to shake. "And you are?"
Hatfield blankly stared at him. "Okay." she responded, and turned around to talk to the person behind her.
"Dude, she's my daughter," Cliff informed his new friend "Mac."
And "Mac" went and found a new spot in line. Imagine that.
Never mind the fact that her Dad was the oldest fellow in the joint, or that she was pretty much the only one with her parent there. Hatfield couldn't have cared less. She happily went each week with the Mister, showing up at 4 to stand in line for up to 2 hours for costumes and make up, and then working until 1 am.
They had a blast.
They came home each night looking creepified beyond belief. I would usually fall asleep on the couch (watching Bones-- made it to Season 6! NO SPOILERS in the comments!) Upon their arrival home, the dogs going bonkers would jar me awake. Half awake and jittery from the beserk dogs, I would go to the front door, terrified out of my mind, because I never knew what faces would greet me.
Faces like this:
That pic still makes me shudder :)