This is our bunch. From left to right, this is Gracie, Maddison, Makayla, Colton and Autumn. Missing from the picture is my oldest stepson, Jake… And I have to say that although he doesn’t come around a whole lot, he’s still very much a part of our story.
But.. We’ll start with the twins. Colton and Maddison had just turned nine when I met them. It was Halloween, I believe, 2008. Dratton and their momma had only been separated for a couple of months at that point and while curious, neither of them had any intentions of going easy on me. It took a while, but we all found our way soon enough.
That first year was a long one. We both had a bitter ex and an unfinalized divorce to get through. Rumors and lies and harsh, hateful words.. So many hateful words.. Even now, I sometimes have to swallow my feelings when I look back on those days. A far cry from reason, Cristie, his ex wife, thoroughly managed to make my life a living hell as often as she could. And she would do it with a smile most of the time. I’d never experienced anything quite so humiliating and hurtful in my life, and that’s saying something. You’d never have imagined she and I would be something resembling friends in just a few years.
Autumn was away, visiting her dad in Arizona when I met Dratton. By the time she came home he and I had already been seeing each other for a month or more. She took to him pretty quickly, wasting no time in doing ten year old things like sitting him down and asking what his intentions were for her mother. More than anything else, she was elated by the possibility of having a new stepsister close to her own age.
That would take years to work out.
Makayla was still little when we started our journey, turning five not long before our first date. She followed him around and looked for his attention in the hopes that he might love her. Sad really, but her father was already living 2,000 miles away and in her own way she was constantly searching for a new one. She even called him daddy for a while, but as she grew older that all changed.
It’s still changing.