Your father and I were never “meant to be.” We found each other, we fell in love, and we worked hard to make it be.
Many of my peers met their eventual life partners in college, or even high school, or at work, or through mutual friends. Your dad and I didn’t have any of these things in common. He and I grew up two towns apart but are essentially from different worlds.
He spent his childhood in Bridgeport, CT, where he and his family attended the local mosque, and he and his cousins went to Islamic school on the weekends. His parents were immigrants, so he learned English once he started school and from watching television. Summers were spent playing basketball on the street with his neighbors. He is nine years older than I am.
I grew up in Westport, CT. I moved out at 18 to attend college and then graduate school, just like most of my peers. Many middle school weekends were spent attending bar and bat mitzvahs, and summers were spent away at sleepaway camp.
I started dating your father when I was 19. He was different from the guys I had met in high school or college or through friends. He made me feel safe and secure and loved. I knew that I was protected and taken care of, not only in a literal sense. My emotions were safe; my feelings were protected; I mattered. He expanded my horizons and my views of the world, allowing me to challenge and question things that I had always assumed to be.
After dating for a few months, my friends and cousins began to comment, “My parents would kill me. I could never.” So did his. But 15 years later, I’m so glad we didn’t listen to those around us.
I hope you know that you don’t need to find your “perfect match.” Your spouse doesn’t need to be someone who shares all of your interests or whose family is just like yours. Your partner needn’t share your racial background or religious beliefs. They don’t need to have had the same opportunities in life that you’ve had. You are not one piece of a 2-piece puzzle that needs to be completed.
I hope you find a spouse who is kind, who cares about you and your feelings and your goals. Choose someone who keeps you safe while also challenging you to be the best version of yourself and learn about the world around you.
I found someone who makes me happy and who is my partner in every sense of the word. But to allow him in, I had to abandon what seemed right or what made sense to those around me. I had to go against the pre-written script that my life was meant to follow. Your dad and I wrote our own script. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I promise it’s so incredibly worth it.
Remember this story this month when we wish him “Happy Father’s Day.” Remember how magical he truly is. And carry it with you as you navigate your own lives and write your own scripts.