My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, and it was a nasty, bitter split. My dad left my mom for another woman. Not an upgrade or trophy wife, but a woman his age with three young children. He moved to the other side of the country and several years later he remarried. While I have since forgiven my father, my mother has not. In fact, my mother has never met my stepmother. My mother understandably has a lot of old wounds from the divorce. She had a really hard time recovering (it took years) and I think even now, even though she has remarried and moved to Illinois with her husband, she has not forgiven nor forgotten the past.
The last time my parents were in the same room together was in 2006 when my mom was seeing me off at the airport when I was moving to Japan. My dad also happened to be there as he was flying through Atlanta (he’s a commercial airline pilot) on a trip. I won’t lie—it was awkward. I remember standing there and feeling red in the face, hands sweaty. My dad looked incredibly uncomfortable. I was so thankful when it was over, but then I cried realizing it was the first time I’d seen them both together, at the same time, in 10 years. Even at 30 years old, the idea of having a photo taken with my mom and dad at my wedding still makes me tear up. Old emotions like this don’t heal and disappear, they lurk under the surface of your skin; they resurface at Christmas, on birthdays, whenever I think about being able to go “home,” which doesn’t exist anymore.
Always over the years, the one thing that has been cycling through the back of my mind is: what’s going to happen when I get married? Even when I was in relationships that I knew had no future potential, even when I was single, it was always a worry that would surface from time to time: what happens when my mother, who can be at times very volatile and irrational, finally meets the woman who she believes destroyed her marriage?
I never thought I would find myself in a position of being in charge of anyone other than my cat, Tchoupitoulas. As I’ve mentioned before, I never wanted children, but now I find myself becoming a stepparent to two wonderful kids, ages 10 and 12. They are at a perfect age—I never had to deal with diapers or potty training or spitting up. Instead, I get the company of two great kids who can bathe themselves, cut their own food (for the most part), and participate in conversations.
I won’t sit here and pretend it was (or is!) always easy, though. It is tough going from zero to family in 6.5 seconds. I didn’t have the normal preparations so I could see it coming and get ready for it. I wasn’t there for a lot of their memories, memories shared between them and their two parents. I don’t fully understand how and what they have learned—I frequently find myself using words and explanations that they don’t understand, but I think it is good at times to make them reach out of their comfort zones.
It is also just tough being a parent and adjusting to that new life. I used to work, work out, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Now on days we have the kids, life is a bit crazier. I have to try to fit my workout in without seeming like I am abandoning the family. It is also very important to me that we eat healthful meals, which means cooking most nights. I purchased a FoodSaver, which has been life altering. I now cook a big meal a few times a week and then freeze the leftovers. The other nights, we pull something from the freezer from a few weeks before and with the FoodSaver it is (usually) just as good as it was on night one. We then make lunches and get snacks ready, all while making sure everyone has showered, brushed their teeth, done all their homework, and done their reading (and understood what they read!). We are definitely in it together, but it is just so much more pressure than I had when I could go three days without needing to refill Tchoup’s food bowl.
I had a pile of projects taunting me for months. They fell into three categories:
1. A project I had already started, but was boring.
2. A project I had already started, but realized it was miserable.
3. A project I couldn’t find the will to start because I just knew it would be miserable.
And this is where a Mom (or amazing bridesmaid, favorite aunt, etc.) comes in.
When my mom came to visit, I literally did nothing. Instead of doubling the productivity, I basically went to my job during the day and watched her work at night. I was so burnt out. In my mind, knowing my mom was helping “advance” the wedding progress meant I had a hall pass that week.
Honestly, the woman was exhausting to watch. She can get more accomplished in a week than I can in three months! Without any further ado, the amazingness that is Mama Squirrel:
For the past year, my mom, sisters, and I have been collecting any and every cheap candle that we can get our hands on. My venue has strict rules about candles. I am allowed to use them, but they must be in glass containers. Hello hurricane and faux-hurricane glassware. We collected this glassware mainly from thrift stores and in the clearance section. I found that regular glasses worked great! Some of my best deals came from huge glassware sets that I found at Big Lots and Macy’s.
The collection kept building and building. Bags and boxes were piled on top of each other. It was a hot mess. Mama S got to work:
And our wedding isn’t even here yet—but I guarantee nothing can top this one!
I had a shower at Mr. Lemur’s church over the weekend, which I plan to recap once I get pictures. I totally planned to take pictures myself, but between opening gifts and meeting people I kinda failed in that department. (I have exactly one focused picture, and it’s of my sister staring into the camera creepily. Oops.) Fortunately, my mom and a friend of the family took plenty of pictures, which I’m super excited to share with you because my shower was lovely. I was very thankful to have so many people there!
After the shower we brought all the gifts back to the house and were sorting through them with both sets of parents—my parents had driven over from Wisconsin for the weekend. They had brought with them what was I thought was the bedroom set I grew up with. Since I’ve been living in a furnished apartment, we didn’t have a bedroom set and my parents graciously offered to give me the one in my room at home.
I was sitting on the couch, and my dad handed me a card with three pictures in it. The first was a picture of a hallway with wooden trim. The second was this:
There is no better way to start this post than to just state the facts, clear and simple.
My parents are drug addicts.
It’s something I’ve had to live with for years and something that just is.
My parents were great when I was young. Right up until I was about 10, my sister and I lived a great life…maybe we were even spoiled. Without going into really lengthy details, it all just fell to pieces. And by “fell” I mean crashed, and by “pieces” I mean shattered shards.
Growing up, life was hectic. An absolute mess. I would pause every day on my porch before I walked in the door, mentally preparing myself for what could possibly be inside. Would they be fighting? Would they be passed out and incoherent? Would they be angry, mean, and hurtful? Or worse, would they act like everything was OK? Would they be in good spirits, allowing my sister and me to experience a few hours’ worth of peace and pseudo-happiness?
I recently watched Father of the Bride for the first time. I was looking for something to get me excited about the wedding and sometimes wedding films have a certain magical, nostalgic appeal. Mr. C warned me that I would likely cry, and I did. The worst part? When Steve Martin’s character was up late the night before the wedding reminiscing about his daughter’s childhood and her transformation into an adult. I cried, oh I cried. I’m telling you, something about planning a wedding has you constantly on the verge of tears. But apart from that, I am such a daddy’s girl that it hit a very soft spot for me.
Do you sometimes imagine your wedding and try to predict the moments where you will become the most emotional? I think that moment is a toss up between the father-daughter dance and when I will look at my dad before walking down the aisle. How in the world will I overcome such emotional moments without turning into a hot mess of ugly tears and nerves? No one wants to see the bride bawling her eyes out as she walks down the aisle. And the father-daughter dance? Don’t even get me started.
Just after I was born: March 20, 1983.
My dad and I have always been really close and I like to think that all the really awesome parts of me are from my dad’s influence. At a young age he instilled within me a love for history, art, reading, and nature. He has always encouraged me, picked me up when I was down, and helped me develop a healthy self-esteem. He raised me to be a strong, independent woman. Through all my weird phases, he has stood by my side (or on the other end of the phone) and listened as I described the most recent book, TV show, anime, or movie I was obsessing over. He’s always made me feel unconditionally loved and accepted.
Let’s talk about music again. For someone who only listens to the radio, doesn’t own a music playing device, and self-proclaims that she has bad taste, my wedding is going to have the most wide-range of kick-ass music ever!
For starters, the ceremony will begin with our bagpiper Evan and will also feature my Sister/MOH Big Eyes singing a song from the TV show, Smash. For the parents processional, we’re having this song by Sigur Ros—have you heard of it? Mr. Sword picked it (obviously), but I love it.
The bridal party is completely stoked about walking into this princess gem, (I say sarcastically).
This brings us to cocktail hour, which I have yet to talk about. I assume most people have their DJ’s play some sweet tunes during this hour of hosted bar and passed hors d’oeuvres, but we are lucky enough to have my talented future brother-in-law playing his guitar and singing instead!
Flower girls and ring bearers are adorable. There’s no denying it. Not only do they provide a cuteness factor to the wedding, they also create perfect photo opportunities.
Hey, hive! Monday marked our one year anniversary, and we celebrated the same way as we did on our wedding day: at Bouchon Bistro. After dinner, we made it a point to take photos in front of the sign, like we do each time. Here’s one version of this year’s shot:
Surprise! At the same time that we are transitioning out of being newlyweds, we are beginning the process of becoming parents. Our son is due in a little over four weeks. We couldn’t be more excited to meet him. (Seriously. Let’s get this baby out.)
Overall, this has been a year of growth for us—as individuals, as a couple, as a family. We adopted Tina, our second greyhound; we traveled both domestically (NYC, Chicago, Milwaukee, Vegas) and internationally (Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Sydney and Melbourne); we bought two new-to-us used cars; we earned job promotions and raises; and we made new friends and spent more time with family. We celebrated the ups, as well as worked through the downs, together. We worked together as a team.
Our wedding day marked a new starting point in our lives, just like our first date did or our son’s birth will soon do. Our wedding day was a meaningful day—but so, to some extent, is every day that we are lucky enough to have together. After all, it’s what you do every day that makes a marriage, that makes it thrive. Remember to hold hands, to go on dates, to talk, to give time and space, to say thanks, to respect one another.
I have two really amazing sisters—we’re only a year and a half apart, each. Here’s a picture of us:
Oh wait, this picture is from Halloween over 17 years ago! Apparently, I was a bride and my two sisters were my bridesmaids—that’s Sister E on the left and Sister A on the right. I love our bouquets and hair bows, but clearly the best part is the turtleneck underneath my frilly dress. Halloween in Wisconsin is cold!
I tried to find some more recent pictures of us, but somehow all the pictures of us either involve hiking or running. For real, I have dozens of pictures of us in the Blue Ridge Mountains, doing 5Ks, off on training runs, etc., but nothing formal. Here’s one shot I found from Christmas a few years ago. Sister A (the youngest) is the tallest on the left and Sister E is on the right. Oh, and that’s my little brother creeping in the background. Classic.
I realize that I’m an oddball sometimes, so here’s another one of those times.
I hate, hate, hate the tradition of being walked down the aisle and being given away. Seriously, the idea of being walked down the aisle by someone freaks me out and makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
From the first time I imagined my own wedding (and let’s be honest, I was probably like four), I have always wanted to walk myself down the aisle. I’m not even completely sure why, but I’ve always have felt this way.
|Image via Delightfully Engaged / Photo by Morgan Trinker|
She looks so radiant walking down the aisle by herself.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and this really isn’t about them. And maybe that’s what so weird about this. Looking for information about this online brings up many people who want to walk themselves because they have non-existent relationships with their fathers or their father has passed on, and it seems perfectly okay in that case. But I don’t seem to find many stories about people who choose to walk down the aisle by themselves for other reasons.
Actually, just a moment of silence.
We have three grandfathers (both of Mr. O’s and my pappy) who have passed, and won’t be present on our wedding day. Also missing will be my best friend, and now precious angel, Kirsten.
Personal photo / Kir and I during school one day
Kir passed away in December of 2006. I was a sophomore in high school. Anyone who has lost someone close to them can attest to the fact that it never gets easier. To this day, Kir is always on my mind. Even little things like shopping trips where I find something and think “oh that’s perfect for her!” So to not have her standing beside me at my ceremony is just as devastating as my pappy missing.
With three weeks until the wedding, our numbers are in, we are working on all the fun logistics like seating charts and who will sit where, but there is a deep nagging feeling of disappointment when I look at our list.
Warning: slightly ranty pity party for one ahead.
Now, I knew ahead of time that you typically get 20% declines of all the invitations you send, and that is exactly what we got. We sent out 124 invitations, and we got 25 “declines with regret” or just plain old “no” from those who couldn’t be bothered to mail back the response card that has a self-addressed stamped envelope included, and we had to spend hours tracking them down—seriously rude. How hard is it to check a box and put it in the mail? Or even better the ones who respond yes, and then text that they can’t make it. GRRR. (/rant) Sorry. I really do get that life happens and unexpected things occur, and our wedding isn’t nearly as big a deal to anyone else as it is to us, but it just stings.
FH and I have been together for over seven years and have spent a ton of time with each other’s families. In a rare occurrence in this universe, we actually adore each other’s families. I’ve been tagging along for his family’s annual trip to Cancun the past four years (which is actually coming up again soon—yay!!), and he’s been at my family’s annual Christmas party for the past six years. Not to mention the countless trips we take out to Wisconsin to visit his parents and all the time we spend with my parents who only live an hour from us. So when we finally got engaged we knew that the families just HAD to meet. And we wanted them to get to know each other before the wedding.
Image via Free-Extras.com
So this past May, FH’s parents and brother flew in to spend the weekend with my family in NYC. We arranged a whole weekend itinerary, including:
I believe very strongly that a wedding isn’t just about making a commitment in front of our friends and family, but it is about celebrating where we came from and where we’re going. Thus, I’d like to have old family pictures around the venue to show pictures of our families, baby pictures, etc.
|Photo by: Laurie Bailey on Laura via Lover.ly|
I’ve seen some really great walls and displays that people have used.