My story is complex to say the least. When I met my husband back in 1998, I was a 20 year old single white woman, working, going to college and paying my own rent. He was a 25-year-old black man, with four kids, working two jobs, barely paying half of his rent. The only common thread we had was the love of God.
We met when we lived in the same apartment complex. It was an ‘L’ shaped building; I lived in the corner of the ‘L’. He lived about 20 apartments down on the right. I was listening to some Christian music while cooking supper for a different neighbor. Jeff and I were just friends, so when he called to say he couldn’t have dinner with me because his grandpa was sick, I didn’t give it a second thought. I decided to put the sauce on simmer and go check the mail. In order to check the mail you had to walk past my husband’s apartment. As I walked I noticed he was sitting outside reading something, it was his Bible. I was intrigued, not too many young men were outside reading their Bible. After I went and got my mail I had to pass by him again. He stopped me and made a comment that he liked the music I was listening to. He and I started to chat, I felt comfortable with him. I had explained to him that I had been cooking supper for someone who couldn’t make it, so I had plenty of food if he wanted to have dinner and talk about life. He accepted.
He came down and we talked for a while; I think he was there for about three hours. I do remember him leaving early because he had made the comment about not keeping a young lady up too late. We talked about God, our lives, work, etc. The usual things you bring up on a first date. One question I had for him was “Do you have A kid”, in which his response was “no”. I thought “ok, cool” and never really gave the question any more thought. When he left that night I felt like I had that Jerry McGuire moment: ‘He had me at hello.’ I called my mom and told her about everything. I told her I thought he was the one. With me only being 20 my mom kindly replied “I doubt that, you just met him” to which I rolled my eyes and prayed to God I was the one who was right, not her.
The next day I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had been going to church, serving God, getting my life back on track (after years of partying like a rock star…but that is a whole other story), I so desired for a man to find me that genuinely loved God and call me his wife. I just knew Marcus was the one! He came over after he got off of work. He looked so very nervous. His voice was quivering when he spoke to me. As I was cooking us another dinner he said he needed to talk to me about something. I thought he was nervous because he wanted to ask me on an actual date out somewhere. It wasn’t until I heard him say “Do you remember when you asked me yesterday if I had A kid?” To which I nodded my head, he continued and said “well I don’t have A kid, I have four kids”. My instant reply was “Ok”. He looked at me puzzled as can be “OK?” I said, “Yep, OK”. Obviously he was scared to tell me because he thought I would run away. Any normal girl would run. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not normal! I didn’t want to run; I wanted to get to know him more.
Apparently he had seen me at our church, but I had never seen him. How amazing it is that we lived in the same apartment complex and went to the same church for months and never even knew it! I felt it was God preparing my heart and his for our perfect meeting. Eventually I did meet his kids; they were all so young, ranging in age from one to five. He had two sons and two daughters. I met the three youngest children; the older one would come into the picture later (yet another story to share…another hat to wear). He was so dedicated to his kids. That helped me fall in love with him all the more. He asked me to marry him only four months after we met. I didn’t hesitate, I was in love. My Jerry McGuire moment was still lingering in the air.
We sought pastoral counseling, in which the pastor warned me how hard it would be to be a stepparent. To which I thought he was clueless as to what he was talking about because he wasn’t even married and had no stepparent or stepchildren, so how could he possibly know anything. My dad didn’t want me to marry him, he actually disowned me for a while (yet another story), and he warned about how hard stepkids could be on me and how difficult a biracial relationship would be on the kids. I knew he was going to be mad about him being black, but I honestly didn’t think he was going to tell me having stepkids would be hard. My stepmom, Shari had a superwoman cape on! I never had seen her struggle. Looking back it wasn’t just the superwoman cape she wore; it was also the Invisible girl cape. She didn’t allow me to know the pain and hurt she endured. My mom didn’t want me to marry him. In her eyes I was giving up all my freedoms and potential. Now that I have a daughter, I see exactly where she was coming from. I even remember her having my Uncle call me to try to talk some sense into me. None of these people understood where I was coming from. I met a man, we were in love, and we had God. That was all we needed, right?
So, because we were both broke, and no one wanted us to marry anyways, we had planned to just go downtown and get married by the justice of the peace. My mom seen the changes in me, she was and still is a very smart woman with a spirit of discernment when it comes to her kids. She asked me if I was going to elope. I said yes, to which she begged me not to. She talked me into having a small park wedding, then save some money up to have a big wedding the following year. So we ended up having a small wedding in a beautiful park with our immediate family there, minus my father. The big wedding has yet to happen.
In these 15 plus years that we have been together our family has grown. We have two children together, who love me unconditionally-even when Mommy has to be shared. I would be lying to you if I said my life has been easy and all the nay sayers were wrong. I have cried uncontrollably over the pain my step kids have caused me. I have had more baby mama drama than Jerry Springer has had positive DNA test shows! I have also cried over the letters of gratitude that a couple of those moms have sent to me in recent years. The cards filled with love and thankfulness that I now receive from my stepchildren encourage me to know that the sacrifices I continue to make are worth it. I’m glad I chose to stand by my husband, love our kids unconditionally and forgive at all costs. We have overcome so very many obstacles.
The one common thread that Marcus and I started off with, the love of God, has been the ONLY thing that has kept our family together. Without that thread we would’ve become unraveled a long time ago!
Christina Elliott married Marcus Elliott Sr, back in 1998, accepting the role of stepmom to his four children. One could say that only being 21 she had taken on a lot more that she knew; they would be right:) However, that still didn’t stop her from wanting her ‘own’ children, so a few years into the marriage she had a girl and a boy. During her spare time, she went to college and became a RN, all while trusting Jesus to help her through it all. The challenges have been MANY. The stress has been OVERWHELMING. Yet, her PRIDE in her family has been bigger than all of that. Join Christina as she shows you just how many hats she wears. Follow Christina on Twitter: @boomastepma.