I met Matthew (officially) in the fall of 2002. I fell in love with him just a few short months after. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him almost immediately. He is the most consistent, solid, thoughtful man I know. He’s my stability, my “rock.” The best part is, I know he’s going to be that for our “Little Love” as well. How do I know that? Well, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to watch him as an uncle- and I just know that the love I see will only be magnified once its our own baby we’re talking about.

If you don’t know Matthew and me very well, let me explain something. We “have” a lot of kids. Kids we love, care for, help raise and absolutely adore being a part of their lives. I put a decent amount of effort into helping these kids see just how much we love them. Yet, it is always Matt (Mr. Matt, Uncle Mutt, Uncle Mack, Uh-Oh Matt)- that they ask for. Kids just love him. Love being near him. Sitting on his lap. Falling asleep in his arms. One little kid in particular.

In January of 2004, the biggest love we’ve known entered our lives. Our niece, Ella Dawn Missell. I have watched this little girl love her uncle SO much since the day she was born. Ella is one of the strongest girls I know. She’s seen so much in her short 7 1/2 years of existence. But, her Uncle Mack has remained a steady constant through every change, every transition.

I can remember her as a little baby being so squirmy and active and crazy! The moment Matt would hold her, she’d sit still. She’d lay on his chest, silently, for as long as he’d let her. As a toddler, if there was a movie to watch or a backyard fire to sit at, she’d curl up on his lap and it seemed to be the safest place in the world.

Whenever we’d have Ella over for sleepovers, I’d have these extravagant plans of how to spend our time. Instead, she’d take a chair to the front yard to watch for her Uncle Mack to get home so that they could play video games together or toss a frisbee while dinner was cooking.

On a family vacation to the outer banks, Ella was scared of the waves in the ocean. She’d sit with her uncle or only go in if he was holding her hand and had proved that he’d lift her up if a wave came. When the rest of the family was doing crazy pool tricks and splashing, she’d find her uncle and stay with him in the corner where the water splashes couldn’t reach her. When I’d be getting ready for the day, I’d come back into our room to see the two of them giggling in bed- Uncle Matt teaching her how to use a camera.

 

He’s excellent at teaching her things. When she was two he tried to teach her the word “onamonapia.” He’s taught her how to get out of every tough spot in Lego Batman. He taught her how to skip rocks on the lake last Labor day. Any time I see the two of them together, he’s passing along wisdom of some sort!

This past week we were going to be having a campfire in our backyard. Ella is always asking for a fire in our backyard- so many memories there. So, I asked her dad if she could come over and spend the night. When I told Matthew that we’d have Ella for the night, the genuine excitement in his response made my heart swell. We stayed out by the fire until pretty late, so Uncle Matt laid a blanket out on the ground so that Ella could just fall asleep there in front of the fire. When it came time to go inside to bed, watching him carry this 7 1/2 year old girl brought back all these memories. Seeing her in his arms, and the smile on his face as she leaned into him, reminded me once again that my Love is going to be the best daddy around.

There was a time when we weren’t sure if parenthood was in our future. I remember a very dear friend telling me “I cry when I think that there might not be a child who gets to call Matthew ‘Daddy'”. I have found myself crying tears of absolute joy these past few months as I realize that there will be that child. Someone blessed enough to have the best man I know as their father.