It was five years ago today that my wife and I went on our first date. Even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
The picture you are seeing now was taken back in March 2007; about a month after our first date… already so much in love.
But how did it all begin?
Jill Tuttle was the only one of my friends who wanted to go with me to see John Mayer in concert two hours away in Huntsville, Alabama.
This was convenient for me because I had a huge crush on her for the past four months, since meeting her at a CMT taping of the show, Crossroads.
I had been deliberately nurturing an authentic friendship with her by initiating a Sunday night tradition of meeting at Starbucks to “catch up.” We had both talked about our mutual love for John Mayer’s music. I knew that her favorite song of his was “Back To You.”
So I made the most of this concert opportunity. This was my chance.
I knew she liked Lenny’s Subs and Twizzlers. So that’s the dinner I packed in a picnic basket for us; we dined in my Honda Element in the parking lot before the show.
When we got back to Nashville around midnight, I put the car in park, looked her right in the eyes, and told her straightforwardly:
“Conveniently, next week is Valentine’s Day. And I really, really like you. I would like to take you out for Valentine’s.”
And the rest is history. We married about a year and half later; then about two and half years after that, our son Jack was born.
That’s the story of us. You could say it all started with us both responding to an email about participating in the taping of a TV show for CMT, as audience members. Or that it all actually started at Starbucks. Or the John Mayer concert. Or even Valentine’s Day 2007.
But ultimately, it started with me taking the initiative to pursue her, carefully and patiently. I wanted to marry my best friend. So I did.
Now I look around the room and see pictures featuring the memories of the mutually shared past five years of our lives, along with a corner of our living room filled with the noisy plastic toys of a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy known to many as “Jack-Man.”
Sure, I believe God orchestrated it all. He caused our paths to cross.
Yet still, when I survey my life of Jill and Jack, I can’t help but think, “Man, I made this happen. I convinced this girl to fall in love with me five years ago. Now we not only have a life together but also a son whom we love like crazy.”
I forever changed Jill Tuttle’s life. I just couldn’t leave her alone. I pursued her and won over her heart.
Of course, it will be an ongoing process. I’m not finished falling in love with her and I never will be.
The renters that have been in our Nashville townhouse will be moving out in September; in the meantime, we are once again staying with our good friends, Dave and Karen. Last Saturday morning while Jill was making a wonderful French toast breakfast (ironically with dark German bread), I hung out with Jack on the kitchen floor. He discovered a sticker on the bottom of a chair that read “DO NOT REMOVE…”. So of course, he did exactly the opposite.
Jack was thrilled at how easily he was able to tear off the sticker. He wadded it up in his hands, making a ball. But it didn’t take long for him to realize his newly acquired toy was wearing out its welcome.
What had become a cool new discovery had instantly become an annoying chore. How could he rid himself of this pesky new virus? If only he would have read the tag, maybe he wouldn’t have done exactly what it told him not to. Jack did his best to remain calm and find a way out of this sticky situation.
He tried crawling with the sticky ball stuck on this hand, hoping it would lose its stickiness, and in the process, latch on to the floor. But that didn’t work.
So Jack tried to convince himself that he still wanted to play with the tag. But the look on his face told me different.
Sometimes in life, when you just stop trying so hard to do something, that is when you get exactly what it is that you want. After all, on the night I met my wife for the first time at the taping of the CMT Crossroads episode with Lindsey Buckingham and Little Big Town, I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone. It was just a random Thursday night in Nashville and I only went because The Office was a rerun.
Jack put the sticky label up to his mouth. I had a choice: Either take a picture of the next part of this story, or keep him from trying to eat it. And that is why you do not see a picture of Jack with the sticky label in his mouth.
It’s funny how if you simply have a camera and a baby, then you automatically have a limitless library of stories to tell. Writing for The Dadabase is just a part-time job for me. But with all the amusing little things Jack does everyday, I could without a doubt, do nothing but just share stories of him as a full-time job.
Jack really does provide great material. What a cool kid.
For this past Father’s Day, I received a card from my wife, a card from my son (whose handwriting looks suspiciously similar to my wife’s), and Brad Paisley’s new CD, This is Country Music. It was just perfect.
How could I, the guy whose passion is to positively re-brand fatherhood, not be a fan of a genre of music that respects the idea of family and faith?
Despite living my whole life in the South, I don’t have a Southern accent. Nor do I drive a pick-up truck, wear Wrangler jeans, or know how to rope a calf. But I ama proud fan of Country music. Not only did I meet my wife in 2006 because of it (we met while waiting in line for a taping of the CMT show Crossroads in Nashville), but I grew up in the same small town as the legendary band, Alabama.
While I can’t personally relate to the songs about tractors, cheatin’, and honky tonk badonkadonks, I can relate to the way Country music is brave enough to be simple and honest.
In other forms of music, like Rock, it’s not quite as acceptable or natural or cool to talk about your wife and kids. Or to mention that you love Jesus, without it being ironic somehow. In other words, Country music, more than any other genre, holds the strongest value for family and faith.
I am very sensitive to sexism; especially in music, because music is so influential on our culture, whether we are willing to accept it or not. And this goes for not only Rap music where it is common to openly degrade women to the standard of sex objects in bikinis at pool parties and refer to them as words that are not in my vocabulary, but also in Pop music where it is normal for man-bashing to be common.
Honestly, I don’t care what kind of music it is, if it negatively stereotypes either women or men, it bothers me. I don’t take it lightly. Both women and men deserve respect and honor, not to be damned into a stereotype of bimbos and idiots.
But with Country Music, it’s not something I really have to think about. Because for every “you’re a no good liar” type of Country song that exists, there are a dozen “I love my wife and kids” songs to overpower it. That’s not the case in other genres.
Granted, I don’t just listen to Country. I love Jazz, 90’s Alternative, and anything in the likeness of Guster and Pete Yorn.
But when I hear a song like “People are Crazy” by Billy Currington, or “Love Without End, Amen,” by George Strait, there’s a connection there that just can’t be matched by even the coolest, trendiest Rock star.
“Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us,
You see, daddies don’t just love their children every now and then,