When Jim first came into her life, Jenny says she was nervous about how he'd react to Evan's unintentional disinterest. "Any single mom can relate," she says. "You want your boyfriend to have this connection with your child, so you go, 'Okay, we can be a family.' And when there's nothing given to your boyfriend, you think, 'Oh, no. How is he going to see past it?'"
For the first few months of their relationship, Jim says Jenny never mentioned her son's struggle with autism. When the truth came pouring out, so did years of pent-up emotions.
"I call it a nervous breakthrough," Jim says. "I think people have ways of hiding their emotions. People think their emotions are ugly, but when she finally broke down, we were in the kitchen, and I kind of grabbed her and I wouldn't let her go until she dumped it."
For years, Jenny says she hid anger and guilt behind a beautiful smile. "Her therapist told her there was anger there because she felt guilty for giving her son autism," Jim says. "This is what a lot of mothers deal with—this terrible guilt for giving their child a disease."
Over the years, Jim has been Jenny's shoulder to cry on, as well as a voice of reason. "'When you feel it, you heal it' is what he taught me," Jenny says.
Looking back, Jim says past heartbreaks and breakups have helped him prepare for this time in his life. "Everybody else was a teacher for me," he says. "The hardest ones, of course, gave me a respect for love...for the power of it."
When Jim first met Jenny and Evan, he says had an inkling they would become part of his family. "When Jenny came into my life, it wasn't a matter of being out of my mind or over the moon. It was a matter of...the answer always came back 'yes' when I asked questions about her in my head," he says. "Do you want to hang out with this person a lot? Yes. Do you want to see her tomorrow? Yes. Do you feel comfortable with her? Yes.'"
Even though Jim couldn't communicate with Evan in the beginning, he says he knew there was something special about this little boy. "He was such a light. It was undeniable," he says. "I knew it was something important in my life. ... These children, we need them more than they need us. They're here for us to learn."
In Jenny's book Mother Warriors, Jim wrote a chapter for single moms who are waiting for the right guy to come along.
Jim says women should keep in mind what they do want—not what they don't want—from a partner. "If you go around saying, 'It's impossible. No one will ever love me. A good man is hard to find,' then you're saying to the universe that you don't believe in abundance," he says. "This universe that created the stars, galaxies, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and the duck-billed platypus is quite capable of finding someone for you that has the capacity to love you, no matter what your situation is."
If you convince yourself that you deserve to be loved, Jim says it can—and will—happen.
Despite all the doctor visits, terrifying moments and tears, Jenny says she sees her son's diagnosis as a blessing. "I know why God gave me Evan," she says. "He is a wonderful teacher and an inspiration to the world. It made me who I am today."
Jim credits Evan with bringing him and Jenny together. "Evan gave her a depth she never had before that. I mean, maybe she had it, but he brought it out of her," he says. "She became infinitely more interesting to me as a person."
"The warrior came out," Jenny says.
Jenny believes everything that happens to you, in some way, is the best thing that ever happened to you. "You just have to look for it," she says. "See it. Believe it."
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