In January 1995, I made a list of 18 attributes that described the type of man I wanted to marry. The list included "wants children," "high family ties -- loves his mother," "secure in themselves" and "social."
Three years later, I married such a man. A man who more than met the list, Jimmy Cushman.
I first knew that we would marry when he was helping me hang curtains in my house. Standing in front of the window, wearing jeans, hammer in hand, he was staring up, determining the next steps. In a flash, I knew that we would one day be married. Less than two years later, we did.
We have been blessed by God with two wonderful children, Maggie and Robert. It was only once we had children that I realized how incredibly important he was, not only to me, but to our children.
Maggie was born in respiratory distress, and was whisked from the delivery room for breathing treatments. Jimmy followed her every step of the way to make sure that she was safe and being looked after.
My favorite picture from the hospital shows Jimmy, seated in a chair, holding Maggie in his arms. His head is bowed; he is sleeping, holding his child.
When Robert followed 22 months later, Jimmy was in the room when the doctor called for an emergency C-section. The cord was prolapsed, and our child would not live if he was delivered normally. Jimmy's eyes grew large, and he and my sister Kathy were pushed aside as the medical staff rapidly rolled me down the hall to an operating room. A few minutes later, unsure of what was going to happen, I was put all the way under by the anesthesiologist. Hours later, when I awoke, Jimmy was in my room, giving me a thumbs up. All was well with our child. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
My favorite picture from the hospital shows Jimmy holding Robert in his arms sitting in a chair. His head is bowed; he is sleeping, holding his child.
Our youngest turns 11 this summer. As the years have gone by, and the daily physical challenges of parenting have changed from dressing, feeding, bathing and entertaining to daily mental challenges of challenging, inspiring, listening to and encouraging, it has become apparent to me that I chose even better than I had thought, and certainly better than I deserve.
A wonderful husband, Jimmy is an incredible father: charming, funny and caring, with fine Southern manners.
Fathers provide an example to their daughters of how they should expect to be treated by men. They provide an example to their sons of how to treat others. They provide stability as well as encouragement.
The most important decision that many of us will make is whom to marry, with whom should we share our time, our home and our lives. For those who are already parents, or who go on to become parents, this decision is even more important and key to how those children will grow up and develop.
Who will help discipline them, who will encourage them, who will serve as an example to them?
Like most people, I have sometimes wondered whether a decision I made was the right one. Often, my decisions are shortsighted. Occasionally, they are wrong.
But about my decision to marry Jimmy, the most important decision I have ever made, I have no doubt. I know that I made the right decision.
My list of attributes was but a prayer from my lips to God's ears. Luckily, God favored me and found the perfect man -- for me. We are blessed with two wonderful children and a loving family.
While this roller coaster of life still has its bumps and bruises, as well as its sunshine and fun, and while Jimmy still has the ability to sleep after surviving some of the most stressful of times, I wouldn't want to ride it with anyone else.
Happy Father's Day, to the incredible father of our children.