Congratulations to Lisa O'Toole for submitting the winning entry in our Sassy Mama Valentine's Day contest. Lisa's won herself the gorgeous "Ginger Lily" print. Read her absolutely beautiful piece about falling in love with her partner.

When did you know you truly loved your partner?
By Lisa O'Toole

At 26 I chose to have a baby. Finding myself pregnant and not in a relationship, my decision, in a heartbeat, was to keep and raise my child alone.

Being a single parent is much like being any other sort of parent except the buck stops with you alone and that can be challenging. The hardest part for me wasn’t the tiredness and logistics of working full time, it was not having someone to share my child with, no one to share the first smile, first accurate wee in the potty, etc. I knew if I were to be with anyone, they would have to want to be with my child as much as they wanted to be with me – we were a package deal!

I liked Gerry the first time I caught sight of him in a meeting. I got to know him a bit but on visiting his home I saw he had white sofas, what bachelor has white sofas? Obviously he was in a relationship! He liked me, but out of work I turned up everywhere with a toddler – I was in a relationship too! After a bit of detective work, we established we were both “free” and started a fast, intense and joyful relationship.

On a most unromantic shopping mall date with a toddler in tow, we split up to run errands, Gerry took my daughter with him, and we arranged to meet for coffee later. Arriving early I looked up to see Gerry carrying my daughter in one arm and shopping in the other. As they came down the escalator, they caught sight of me, turned to look at each other and smiled. In that moment, looking at them both enjoying each other’s company, I knew I loved this man. Love can jump out at you in the most unexpected of situations!

As they reached me, I announced, “I want to marry you”. We’d been seeing each other for two weeks and possibly this was his cue to pass me back my child and run!

We married six months later, and three days after that we told our daughter we were going on a “big long holiday”, and left for Malaysia to start our expat life.

20 years of marriage and 2 further children later, we’re still on that “big long holiday” and Gerry’s still very much my Valentine.