For some it was a bolt of lightning, and for others it took a steady erosion of doubt — the realization the person they were dating was "the one" who'd end up being the parent to their future (or current) children came fast and slow for the 10 moms Romper spoke to.
Like Emily, who met her husband at age 18 but didn't know he was "the one" until 10 years later. Or Laurel, who was adamant about never having children, but realized she could raise an offspring or two with her future husband after he took care of her during a bad case of the flu.
There was never a moment when I knew I was going to start a family with the man who became my husband. But from day one, there was very much a sense of, "If things go as well as they seem to be going I am for sure going to marry this dude." And — great news! — they did, so I did, and now —more than a decade and two kids later — things continue to go pretty well. He's an incredible partner and father; as good as he always seemed that he could be.
Here's how other moms decided they'd landed on the right person:
"I guess when we started trying? Because until that point, I wasn't 100% sure my husband of seven years was completely on board for this life-changing event! When we first met (we were young) he said he didn't want kids. I remember thinking, 'I'll give it a year, but if he doesn't change his mind this will be a problem.' He did actually change his mind when his niece was born a year later, but he definitely was a person who could have gone either way on whether to have kids or not. So, I was mostly sure, but really wasn't 100% sure or 'knew' we would have a future child until we actually tried for one."
"When we were dating he had his own apartment and cooked his own meals (OK, 'microwaved.' Whatever.) and did his own laundry. That was all well and good. He even had a pet rabbit that he took very good care of and that was impressive, too. But it was when I caught him making kissy faces at the bunny. That’s when I knew."
"When I met [my husband] I was 23 and kids were the furthest thing from my mind. I adamantly didn't want them. But I got really sick with the flu and stayed at the house he was renting with his friends. He took great care of me: brought me soup, juice, found a good movie for us to watch together. I hadn't met anyone who took care of me the way my mom did when I was sick, and I felt instantly that he was the man I wanted to marry and also would be an amazing father. 13 years later and I was right!"
"I was a film projectionist (old school style) at a theater, and he had just been hired to work in the box office. I knew he was the one when we both had to work in the concession stand while also selling tickets and projecting. We were bored, 18 and 22 years old, and decided to make chalk outlines on the floor of the lobby for the film goers to see when they left. Chemistry was immediate, but it took us 10 years, a marriage to someone else for me, and an engagement to someone else for him, to make it happen.
I called him one March night in 2009 and finally admitted that I had been in love with him all along. Now we’re stuck in a crazy life with two kids. We haven’t lost our sense of humor. I may want to frequently dig a hole for him in the backyard, but he is and always was my everything. ... It’s been a beautiful, messy, and interesting 20 years."
"I grew up with my husband but I always knew he would be a good dad. Even when we were just friends for years. He always interacted with kids and had a calming presence. I didn't realize he would be the father of my kids until I realized I reciprocated his feelings of love."
"When I met my now-husband, I could tell right away that he was a special guy. He was caring, very genuine and kind. I had no idea the minute we met that we'd be married. I also had no idea if we'd have kids, although I did want kids.
After we dated for a few months, I knew we'd be married. We clicked. It was the first time I'd dated someone outside of my circle of friends from high school and college ... I knew we'd be together, which I suppose meant I hoped we'd have kids together. And here we are, married for 10 years as of September and have been together for 15 years with two kids."
"I paid attention to how he treated his dog. Not that babies are dogs, ha! But he was playful and even though he roughhoused with her, he was protective. He had a really good 'dad voice' when he called her to come or she was doing something naughty. It was stern a commanding, but not angry or mean. Very paternal ... I knew he'd be a good father."
"When I bumped into my now-husband, who I had also known back when we were teens, I had already birthed my first born daughter who was only a couple months old. He was the only one I could date with a small child that wasn’t awkward around her. He simply loved her and was always there for her, despite not being her father. I knew we’d be making babies soon."
"[My husband] is a loud, boisterous guy with a huge personality and I think people often think of him as a party guy, man's man type. I fell in love with that guy but it didn't get serious until we were in for a few months and he sat me down and talked about how important having a family was for him and was that something I saw for myself because, if it wasn't, he didn't want to waste my time and he wanted to be able to part as friends. Until that moment I didn't know if I wanted kids, to be honest. But when I saw this funny guy get very serious and sincere I saw what a great father that would make him and for the first time I got excited about the idea of having kids."
"[My husband] coached middle school football early on in our marriage. Thinking back on the 'coaches' from my school days, I was dreading watching the male ego in action. But after watching him console a crying 12-year-old on the sidelines, I realized that he was the opposite. He was a great supportive father figure then to his 'boys' — and is now to our two kids!"