Though blended families are becoming more of a norm in American culture, making the dynamic of two different worlds colliding actually work can be a huge challenge.
As difficult as the dating scene can be to find somebody compatible for you, the search can be exponentially difficult for a single mom or dad seeking a life partner who will also love their children just as much.
Natalie Crabtree is all too familiar with this struggle, as she dated men in search of both a soulmate and a good father-figure for her son Rylan. After five to seven years of failed relationships, she was nearly ready to give up hope that those two qualities could co-exist.
“I had been through a few relationships that just didn’t work out,” she shared with Love What Matters. “No matter how cautious I was with keeping my guard up and making sure those people loved my son just as much as I did, we still couldn’t find the one for us. Those relationships ended in nothing but heartache and trust issues for Rylan and me.”
But then… she met Joe, a man who would unknowingly change the course of their lives for the better — radically, beautifully, and in a way that far exceeded her expectations:
“Little did I know that he would be our missing piece. He has two children as well, and I instantly fell in love with him and his babies. From day one, we did not go one day without seeing each other. I used to dream about finding someone who would complete us. Joe is better than any of those dreams. He has shown us what it is like to have a family. He loves us with so much intensity that it feels unreal at times.”
In the beginning of their relationship, Natalie expressed to Joe that her son needed a male figure in his life who would invest one-on-one time with him. But she never could have anticipated his intentionality in passionately pursuing her son’s heart as much as he pursued hers.
“He helps Rylan with his homework, he makes every school event when I can’t, and they go on bike rides together,” wrote Natalie. “He taught Rylan how to golf this past summer, and now it’s their thing. I picked Ry up from school the other day and he said, ‘Mom, can I go have a daddy/son day with Joey soon? I want to go golfing. It is my favorite thing to do!’
“Then he went on tell me that there are NO MOMS ALLOWED because it will be a boys day. I was okay with that. To know that he wants quality time with Joe just melts my heart. That is what he has always wanted. It is what WE have always wanted.”
In February, Joe and Natalie decided to not only tie the knot with each other but also to make vows to their stepchildren. With so many kids growing up in broken homes today, they wanted to give their children the confident assurance that their home would be a safe space, full of enough love for the five of them.
But Natalie wasn’t quite ready for the display of waterworks that would ensue from Joe’s simple yet sincere words…
“The moment when Joe brought Rylan up in front of our guests on that special day, is a moment I will never forget. He told Rylan, ‘I promise to always be there for you when you need someone. Whether it be a coach, a dad, a friend. Anything you need, you can always come to me, and I’ll be your shoulder. I love you, bub.’
“Although those words may have been short and sweet, they meant the world to me and I know they meant the world to Rylan. He burst into tears hearing Joe’s promises to him, and the whole room did as well.”
While vows to stepchildren have become increasingly popular over the last year, it’s clear their tears are just TOO real for this to be an on-trend gimmick.
Watch the beautiful moment unfold in the video below. And if this sweet story inspired you too, be sure to share the love with your friends on Facebook! ❤️