I was 18 when I became engaged to my first husband, 19 when I married. Yet, by the time the wedding day rolled around I knew that I was not in love. I remember my dad whispering to me as he and I began, arm in arm, the long walk down the aisle at the fully packed First United Methodist Church, “It’s not to late to back out.” I thought to myself how I’d so much love to do just that, but also knew that more than half the guests filling this crowded church on this wintry Saturday afternoon were business associates of my father’s who had flown in from far away places more out of respect to my father rather than to witness my wedding. I wouldn’t dare embarrass him or the rest of my family by turning and running.
So, Steve and I married, bought a nice little house in a middle class neighborhood in Charlotte, and began our lives together. Within a year I was pregnant.
My son was born prematurely, weighing only 3 pounds 8 ounces. He was put on oxygen right away, and needed to remain on oxygen for about two weeks after his birth. He was frail and sickly and remained in the hospital for a month after he was born.
I remember thinking that God was testing me, that my son would not be able to come home to me until God was satisfied that I had prepared a good home for him. So for the month that my tiny little boy was struggling in the hospital, I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I got rid of anything in the home I thought to be unsuitable such as Playboy and Cosmopolitan magazines and beer and liquor were disposed of. I reprimanded my husbanded constantly for his foul language, telling him that we were parents now and could no longer speak or conduct ourselves as if we were trash.
One night I woke to go to the bathroom and was sure that Jesus was waiting for me there to interview me about being a good mother. I was paralyzed with fear and woke my husband to go to the bathroom with me. The next morning I called my mom in tears and told her what had happened the night before. She assured me that God does not test us. She did her best to put my mind at ease and promised me I was going to be a wonderful mommy to my little son, Doug.