On Christmas Eve I was given a gift. Not under a tree. Not even in my home. 600 Miles away my oldest son, Jordan, asked his longtime girlfriend, Haley, to marry him. On his knee. In her home. With (almost) Mom and Dad-in-law and her family looking on. I got a second daughter for Christmas.
Earlier in the day I called him. I told him I loved him. I told him how proud I was of him. I told him I recognized that in a few hours he was taking a big step and while I wasn't there, he was in my heart and had my full support. He was pretty certain of a "yes". (A "No" he said, would mean a long and awkward ride home.) It is not an unusual step. In fact, similar gestures were likely mirrored in homes around the world this holiday season. But for my son, for our family, for Haley’s family, this was a big deal. One small step for a man. One giant leap for Jordan Chiero and Haley Yow.
Jordan and I have had the conversation. Several months ago he started dropping hints that this wasn’t just another girl. This was The One. For my Jordan, this is a big deal. He’s had lots of girls. Some for days and some for weeks. Even a few for months. But never has he dated a girl he called The One. How did he know? Here is what he told me (and good advice for his younger brother).
He knew from the first date he could trust her. He asked her out and she turned him down because she was involved with another young man. The relationship wasn’t good. In fact, it was winding down but she wouldn’t move forward behind the back of the person to whom she was committed. End one. Start another. This spoke volumes to Jordan about Haley’s integrity. It still does.
They can talk about anything and sit in silence about nothing. The first several months of their relationship were spent in two cities. 184 miles between Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was worth the drive. Many times. The times they made the drive together were hours of talking and significant silence. The most mundane of details became a conversation. The silence was comfortable. In short, she became his best friend.
He has told her everything. She has reciprocated. Their secrets, dreams, pains, and joys have been spoken. Certainly over the years they will learn more about each other and the mine the deep recesses of personality, heart, and feelings. They are committed to the hard conversation and have given each other permission to be vulnerable, imperfect, and growing.
His family and friends love her. She fits in. This is no small feat. The Chiero siblings, cousins, and friends are close, loud, and move in a pack. Loyalty runs in the blood, friendships are decades deep. Sink or swim. She swam like she shares the DNA. She fit in, pitched in, and dove in to make his life, hers; her home, theirs.
He doesn’t see a life without her. When he got down on one knee it was a given that he could live the rest of his life with her. The more important question: can I live without her? No, he couldn’t. Jordan cannot see a picture of life, a future, a tomorrow without Haley in the frame. The thought of marrying her doesn’t scare him. The thought of losing her takes his breath away.
Jordan, my son. This is how I knew she was The One.
You are happier because of Haley. I have never seen you more content, more focused, or more confident than when you are with her. I know you love her and she loves you.
You are better because of Haley. After years of impulsive decision making and selfish choices you found the one person who makes you consistently stop and ask “is this best for her?” You budget. You sacrifice. You mow the lawn. You get up earlier. You turn down opportunities. You stick with the hard decisions. You chose Haley over baseball. Drop the mic.
I watched how you have changed your behavior. Plans made by a quorum of buddies have been replaced with a pause and consideration of cost and consequences. The possible loss of a good time pales in comparison to the threat of losing her.
Here is my directive moving forward: she always comes first. In front of every other woman, including your Mom. If we are ever on a sinking ship and you can only save one of us — you damn well better say goodbye to me.
Finally, to Haley. I speak for all mothers when I say “If you make my son happy, I’m happy.” I speak for this mother when I say you are a joy to all of our lives. You are beautiful inside and out. You like dogs. You work baseball camps in the rain. You don't need make-up on Saturdays. You aren’t afraid to eat around us. You take Christian and Lindsay as part of the package. I pledge to be there for you when you need me and stay out of the way when you don’t.