How do you feel about “love at first sight?” Do you think it’s possible to love someone instantly? Does love at first sight imply you only like the way they look? Or is there something more to it.
My husband and I married in March 2006. So, we’ve been married for a while. We met by phone in December 2004, then met in person in January 2005.
Before we married, my husband and I worked together as Lieutenants in the 27th Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg. In April 2005, my platoon’s training schedule included an exciting training event - execute the Air Assault Obstacle Course. This obstacle course was pretty awesome and included an obstacle titled The Tough One - a combination obstacle including a high ascent/decent, some balancing, and a cargo net. It was the culminating obstacle of the whole course. Extra safety personnel needed to be on-site in order for Soldiers to attempt this obstacle. Of all the obstacles on the Course, this was the obstacle most likely to result in an injury. In order for our Battalion Commander, COL (Ret) Michael P. Crawl, to allow me, still a young butterbar 2LT, to run the Course, I needed to receive guidance and mentorship from the older and wiser 1LT in the Battalion who recently ran it - 1LT Haravitch. So a week or so before my training event at the Obstacle Course, 1LT Haravitch and I went on our blind date, set up by none other than our Battalion Commander, out to the Obstacle Course. 1LT Haravitch drove in his red Neon. Honestly, all these years later, I don’t remember too much about this trip with him. Except…we conversed over a question (I don’t remember who asked it) - “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” To which he replied - “married with two boys and a dog, maybe living in New Hampshire.”
It wasn’t until May 2005 that we went on our first real date. During our courtship we did many things that helped solidify our relationship, most of which allowed me to determine that, yes, in fact, he was absolutely the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We talked about having kids and pets and we each wanted both, but not immediately. We were both Active Duty Army and enjoyed our work but didn’t know if we were going to make a career out of it (meaning, serve for at least 20 years). We both liked hiking and camping and outdoor activities in general. We had similar views on spending money and financial stability. We had some differences (I like sports, he was apathetic) but for the most part, we were compatible on the big things. We learned about each other as people and as a couple. We experienced some telling times during our courtship; experiences that allowed us to see one another and anticipate how the other would handle similar situations in the future.
We even moved in together, kind of like a dress rehearsal for our future life. Quick disclaimer: don’t get me wrong, I know some families who are opposed to cohabitation prior to marriage. I can see the benefits of something like that, as well as the negatives. This article is not about living together before marriage. Someone else can write that article! So, back to the dress rehearsal. I owned my house (which he helped me move in to…that’s another story for another day) and he was renting his. His lease was up at the end of December 2005. We were scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the beginning of April 2006. So, instead him trying to figure out where to live for a few months and what to do with his stuff, we just decided it made the most sense (financially and otherwise), that he move in with me. So, he did. We lived together for about a month and a half before he proposed. Then, with our deployment timeline, we took a trip to San Jose, CA (my hometown) and got married in my parent’s dining room in March 2006.
During our stage as boyfriend/girlfriend, we had a few instances where we interacted with children, but not a lot. I am an only child, so there are no nieces or nephews on my side. My husband has an amazing younger brother but he was in college and without kids when we met and dated. My husband had younger second-cousins though and we were able to interact with them a couple of times when we were dating. We had a couple of friends at Fort Bragg who had children, but for the most part, we were not exposed to young children while we were dating.
There are a few specific instances in our courtship that I vividly remember falling in love with my now-husband. One of these such instances was when we attended a picnic with one of the bands we really enjoyed, Smooth and Sweet. For some reason, the band (comprised of family-like friends) included us in their family-friendly picnic. And I remember standing on the back deck and watching my then-boyfriend just play with the kids at the party. He had never met these children before, but he was comfortable around them just having fun, joking appropriately, and playing soccer with them. It was pretty sweet!
Throughout our dating relationship, we had many chances to see the other person’s true colors and how we’d each handle adversity or challenges as individuals and how we’d handle them as a couple. We dealt with separation very early in our dating (and again immediately after we married). We shared in silly milestones like a 59:56 phone call, the longest phone call my husband ever logged.
When the day came, March 13, 2006, and I became a Haravitch, I felt very confident in my selection for my life-partner (and I still do…but that’s not the point here!).
We had been married for 6.5 years before we had our first child. We lived together in austere locations and less-than-desirable-conditions twice (Afghanistan right after we got married then Iraq two years later). We were in Master’s Degree classes together. We bought a couple houses together (even “flipped”one ourselves). We were in a car crash together. We were simultaneous company commander, in the same Battalion. So even as a married couple, we experienced a lot together before having children - a great testament to our understanding of each other and knowledge of each other.
Yet, really, I had no idea what kind of father he’d be.
Until the morning of October 11th, 2012.
I didn’t get to interview directly for the position of father. I didn’t get to ask questions because, well, I didn’t even know the questions! I didn’t get to rehearse the emotions - both his and mine. I didn’t get to test out how he’d handle seeing or hearing me in childbirth. I didn’t know how he’d do with the hormonal hurricane that came after having said child. I didn’t know how he’d do at changing diapers or comforting or bathing the baby.
I knew how he was as a person and as a husband, I knew he deeply wanted to be a father, but I had no idea how he’d be as a father. One of the most significant transitions a person can make - becoming a parent - is not something you really get to practice for. I didn’t really know what kind of father he’d be. I had an inkling and some glimpses, but I didn’t know his fathering until he became a father. He didn’t get to practice or develop muscle memory on fathering. Sure he read lots of books, attended classes with me, listened to me, and was extremely excited to joint the cult of fatherhood, but in the mantra of “practice makes progress,” this life-long tournament of fatherhood came on without much hands-on practice. I just find it so interesting that we get to interview and date and practice and try-out for all of these other roles and positions and jobs in our life...except parenthood! It's crazytown! But, that's the way it is. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we strikeout. But, I think it's fair to say, we all do the best we can!
Like all fathers, my oldest child made my husband a father. He didn’t have that title until October 11, 2012.
My tough, Engineer, Ranger-tab-wearing Army officer just broke down in tears of pride and happiness that morning. Pride in me for birthing his son. Happiness and amazement and sheer joy in finally meeting this child he’d wanted for years. And somehow, thankfully, in the midst of tears, and joy, and pain, and blood, and placenta, and my brand-newborn baby on my chest, I met my firstborn’s father.
And for me, that, too, was love at first sight.
Wishing you all a happy and blessed Father’s Day.
Oh, because I feel like you might be wondering…he is an even better father than I could have imagined. He’s certainly a better parent than me!! He loves our boys with his whole being and, without even having to say any words, the boys know it just as much as I do. I have learned so many of the intangibles of parenting from my husband - love above all else, the power of a positive attitude, the impact of my emotions on my kids, the importance of patience, and, my favorite, the need, not just the desire, but the true need for humor and laughter and silliness in the home. I know many partners out there have wonderful husbands upon which we get to dote today, so I just want to officially throw my hat in and say that my boys have THE WORLD’S BEST DAD!!
Thank you so much to the Experiences In Motherhood Survey Group for sharing so many stories about the father of your first-born. It was great to read the wide variety of experiences, emotions, and thoughts you all provided on this topic, as it is on every topic! You’re such a wonderful group of mothers! Especially wishing the father’s in your life a Happy Father’s Day.