Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wedding Planning

I went to a beautiful wedding last night.  The ceremony was held in a gorgeous little church, the bridesmaids looked fabulous, the groomsmen were handsome (especially my fiance of course), the flower girl was adorable.  The wedding colors were well chosen, the bride was absolutely stunning. She didn't just look beautiful, she looked perfect.  Her hair, makeup, and dress were so beautifully done, it was amazing.  The ceremony was fairly small and very sweet.  Everything was perfect.  It was kind of beautiful, and wonderful, and it brought tears to my eyes. . .  But not because I am close to the two getting married.  Because it made me realize how much I don't want a wedding like that.

Sure I want to wear a pretty dress, I want my handsome groom there, my daughter to be there.  It would be great to have my closest friends there to stand with us.  But I don't want a church, no unity candles, no sand ceremonies, no minister/pastor/reverend that doesn't know me as a person presiding over the ceremony and commenting as though they know the inner workings of my mind.  No vows repeated in the  flat monotone of someone trying really hard not to screw up what they have been told to say.  After the guests were dismissed from the pews, I found Ben in the line of groomsmen and as I neared, with tears in my eyes I whispered, "Vegas?"  And he gave me a huge hug and said "Baby, you are the perfect woman for me!"  So relieved.

His close friend came up behind us and asked, quite diplomatically, if the wedding was getting me all excited for my own, and I smiled so big my cheeks hurt and said we were both thinking that eloping sounded wonderful.  His face quickly changed from the polite smile to the conspiratorial whisper, and confided that it was the best idea.

While the ceremony was beautiful, it is simply not indicative of our relationship.  There is no pomp, no ceremony between us.  We've been friends for 14 years, and in all that time it has been relaxed, informal, mellow, so far from an organized event that I almost feel a wedding like that would taint things.  We've known each other for so long, the traditional posturing of a relationship has been somewhat lost.  There is no image to project, nothing surprising to discover.  He is who he has always been, but grown up now.  I'm not marrying him because of the crazy butterflies and whirlwind romance of meeting someone new.  I am marrying him because after 14 years, he has never once treated me unkindly.  Because in the time we have been dating, he has been so gentle and kind to me and my daughter.  Because I like his family, his friends. Because we communicate well, and compromise.  Because I still want to impress him, and get things right, but not because he tells me I have to.  Because we do things together (most of which seem to involve getting really dirty or wet.) Because he knows me so well, learns from his mistakes, and wants me and only me.  Because I trust him enough that I have let him into not only my life but my daughter's life as well.

Weddings are political.  Planned.  Postured.  A bunch of adults playing dress up.  And sure weddings are beautiful, magical, and really a ceremony designed to please the family.  But we've just been us, all along.  I don't think I want to change that.   We are not getting married because we are going to be magically in love forever.  We both know that we are signing up to work on things, communicate, compromise, fight, make up, let go of resentment, be there for each other. We aren't looking for the impossible Disney dream.  We are looking for a partnership.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


This week has been filled with random and awesome acts of kindness.  

The other night as I lay in bed, my fiance got up to take a phone call. He was talking to his friend about going out for a boys night. And I hear the strangest sound in the back ground.  He was unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher.  When it sounded like he was done I was anticipating his return, and instead heard the water start running.  Not only did he put the clean dishes away, but he also washed the cups that were sitting in the sink! 

Last night I made a tasty dinner and my daughter helped make the most awesome strawberry pie.  We pretended it was everyone's birthday and each of the three of us made a wish.  We blew out our candles.  We played "mystery" and went around the house looking for "clues."  We had a pretend dance recital while Ben tried learning a new song on the piano.  After Calli went to sleep Ben washed and folded our laundry.  Ben and I stayed up way too late talking over ideas for the wedding, looking at high school year book photos and having a good laugh.  We laugh so much we hardly sleep, but I think that is a good thing.

After about four hours of sleep, I get a phone call from my mom.  She wanted to know if I could drive her to a doctor's appointment within less than an hour and a half.  It's half an hour to her house and another half hour to the appointment.  I woke Calli up and we rushed out the door and manage to get her there right on time!  So tired, but we had a very nice walk in the MSU gardens while waiting for the appointment to finish.  She took Calli and me out to a nice breakfast at Sawyers. Then we went shopping for fabric for my wedding dress.  I dropped Calli off at my mom's and finished shopping for odds and ends.

I pulled in my driveway and my neighbor asked if I had stuff I wanted to put out for the garage sale he is having.  Perfect weekend for me as I have Saturday off this week! So drug piles of junk out of my basement to try and sell.  What a great day full of unexpected surprises

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Greatest Parts

Parenting has to be the toughest thing I have ever tried.  I always thought my family was weird because we weren't like the ones on TV.  Now having tried so hard to be like the ones on TV, I know they're the weird ones.  A mom who only appears in the kitchen, perfectly dressed, to make some meal or another and smile beautifully while handing over some sort of sage advice to her son.  Babies who never need their diapers changed, never stay up late into the night screaming bloody murder because they don't want to go to sleep. Children or parents who appear and disappear with the scene change, only to conveniently reappear when absolutely necessary.  Sheesh.  I used to look at parents with toddlers and promise myself that I would never have that horrible harassed look on my face dragging a screaming kid through the mall.  I was half right.  I just have that horrible harassed look carrying her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

I thought kids listened. If you were a good attentive parent your child would learn to read, would listen well. I thought kids were born inherently kind hearted and good natured and that parenting is what made that difference.  HAHAHAHAHA. Apparently children have a will of their own.  I did not know.  Children will decide when they are cranky and when they are having a good day.  Their incoming teeth won't wait until a weekend to push through and keep you up all night.  Mostly they get sick just in time for whatever family event you have planned.  Not all children like swimming.  Not all children have the desire to learn to swim.  My daughter is so stubborn she lies about what she actually knows.  I catch her in this game when  accidentally correctly identifies the right letters when she forgets the little game she plays.  I have worried she has a learning disability for all the time we spend reading, counting, doing alphabets, but apparently she just doesn't want me to know she can do things herself.  She is a trickster. Too smart for her own good.  And it is my job to teach her to use her powers for good instead of evil.  It is my job to teach her kindness and how to be thoughtful. To chose a gift for another person that reflects that person's desires instead of her own. 

For me, parenting seems like forever pushing the rock up the hill just to watch it roll back down again.  My daughter is definitely my polar opposite.  I am quiet and studious, shy around new people, clumsy, and timid by nature.  I want desperately to please other people, cautious of outcomes, afraid of change.  My daughter runs to meet the world head on. She talks to everyone.  She craves constant attention.  She dislikes having to learn new things,  gets frustrated easily if something requires any attention.  Where I was reading at her age, she is pretending she doesn't even know her letters.  Absolutely refuses to count to twenty even if it means getting her very own pack of gum which she will later cry about not having.  And no amount of punishment phases her in the least.  She will put herself on time out for 45 minutes to not have to do a thirty second task.  Cut off her nose to spite her face.  Her will is strong, and I am forever at a loss.  By the time we get through this, she will be hitting puberty and that stone will be rolling right back down the hill.

But then there is that other side of parenting.  This tiny little person that says the cutest things, gives the sweetest hugs, throws elaborate parties for the honored birthday guest.   Precocious and sweet.  Some things are just so amazing they are etched in your memory for life. The first time your baby smiles at you.  Coming home from work and she crawls across the floor as fast as she can to get to mommy. The look of awe the first time she sees the fireworks in the sky.  Curling up next to you at night. There is really something magical about a teeny tiny person sleeping.  Coming to Mommy for hugs after her fist skinned knee. Watching her learn to pour her own juice, get a snack from the fridge, the look of shock when a firefly escapes her closed hands.  Those giant brown eyes gazing up at me.  I am such a sucker.  The special four year old girl songs that narrate the soundtrack of her thoughts.  "Milk is all whi-ite. Sometimes sometimes sometimes they are!"  Watching her learn the associations between events and reactions.  Learning the permanence of her decisions, often with giant soulful tears.  We play dress up and she puts eyeshadow on her feet and earlobes. She draws hundreds of pictures to make cards for a friend's birthday.  

And oh the things they say:
"And then I saw it!" Her eyes as wide as saucers. She points her finger at me, other hand on her  hip, leans forward just a little . . . "It was the Itsy. Bitsy. SPIDER!!!"
"Did it go up the water spout? Down came the rain, washed the spider out?"
Now she looks absolutely offended. "No! It was on the wall!"

I about fell over laughing.

She helps make cakes and cookies, she matches socks, and feeds the kitties. She chases fireflies and loves running around the back yard with sparklers.  She is cautious when I ask her to be gentle with something.  She stays out of the things she is not supposed to touch. She listens when I tell her it's too hot to touch.  She tries new things more often than not.  While she seldom behaves in restaurants, she is ALWAYS invited back to friend's houses.  She plays well with other kids and is a delight at daycare. 

We don't always see eye to eye, but she is my darling and my greatest adventure.   So I canceled my cable and quit trying to compare myself with sitcom house wife standards. We argue, we play, we love we grow.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I could start at the beginning, but that was a long time ago.  And I haven't reached the end yet, so it seems somewhere in the middle should be acceptable.

It is 9:40 pm on a Sunday. My daughter is supposed to be in bed, which means she is alternately running through the house chasing kitties and coming to me to ask if we can go outside and chase fireflies.  My fiance is at work.  The cats are terrorizing the house plants. I am sitting at my computer wishing I wasn't in the midst of a crazy bout of insomnia.  

My boyfriend proposed on Wednesday.   It was pretty wonderful.  I stood in for a double header on the Fleethood Mafia's softball team.  It was about a hundred degrees, and we were all virtually melting on the bench.  Our team captain asked if we wanted to forfeit and grab some beers instead.  Tempting, but not nearly as fun.  I was asked to play catcher for the very first time.  Somewhat terrifying with neither dental insurance nor proper head gear.  I managed to protect my face, catching balls primarily with my shoulders and knees.  I had played one game in the past 17 years, and to be honest, I am no better now than i was then despite being in far better shape.  Well after 2 full games, in the blistering sun, covered head to toe in SPF 50 (I feel old just admitting to that), dirt and chalk covered my legs, adhering to that god awful glue that sweat and sunscreen make.  My shorts had chalky hand prints, I had to abandon my tee shirt or die of heat exhaustion, my shoes were covered in dust, my shins were bruised, my hair making that funny pony tail halo, the makeup I had applied 15 hours earlier was ranging between nonexistent and melted, and I apparently did little beyond generate a few laughs for the team.  My legs were sore, I was exhausted, I was a mess, but in a great mood.  My mom came and took my daughter for the night, so after we got out, I called my boyfriend and asked if he wanted to meet for an air conditioned beverage somewhere. He asked me to meet at his house.  I got there and rambled on and on about my softball game, the bloopers and amusing out takes.   He listened patiently.  And then he said he had something to show me.  He pulled out a tiny little box.  And he got down on one knee.  And he proposed right then and there.  I was so excited I did the girl clap and jumped up and down for a minute.  I gave him a hug and he put the ring on my finger.  It wasn't for a minute or two that I realized I had forgotten to say "yes!"  He was so nervous he didn't even notice and had quite the laugh when I stopped him and just said "yes!"

Afterward, we went for dinner and a smoothie.  He said he was so nervous he couldn't even say my name, and I thought that was great since I was so excited I forgot to say yes.  He apologized for proposing with us both a mess. He had wanted to wait for a more ideal time, doing something special like canoeing together.  We pondered all of the cute scenarios of proposing to someone as clumsy as myself on a canoe.  I'm grateful that he didn't. There's no jumping up and down in a canoe.  And unless he'd tied some fishing line from the ring to the boat, I'd have likely dropped it in my excitement.

We sent a text to his family of a picture of my hand with the ring and a note saying "she said yes!"  His sister called and couldn't stop talking.  She mostly kept shouting at him for not telling her.  His sister told his mother who had deleted the text not understanding what it was.  Much celebration ensued.

Now we are trying to plan our wedding, with no idea whether to invite everyone or just the family, how much we can spend, or anything else really.  I was married once before and the thought of doing it again is a little terrifying.  It will be different this time, I am sure of that.  I am probably dating the first NICE guy in my life, he is wonderful to me and my daughter. She keeps running around telling everyone she is going to marry him. Which is kinda true in the package deal sort of way.

In a couple months, he is going to move into our house.  Which means some redecorating and resorting of things is underway.  Today we patched walls, and repainted the bedroom.  It was red. He hated red and wanted blue.  I can't imagine spending a Michigan 9 month winter staring at icy blue walls.  We compromised with green.  I thought that would be okay.  Got the room all painted and put our new furniture back in.  And the waterworks started.  Suddenly I feel like there is no room for my stuff, and I don't know where to put anything, and he hates everything I have, and everything I have worked so hard for to rebuild my life for my daughter and I after divorcing her father is going to be handed over to someone else . . .  And I realize it's my hormones talking and not him.  I'm weeping hysterically and he is trying to console me with promises of repainting it all back the way it was.  Poor guy.  He held me and did what he could.  But sometimes hormonal logic has a direct link to a woman's tear ducts, and really it all makes sense to us.

I realized today how scared I really am to let go.  It was amazingly difficult to get to where I am, which isn't that big a deal to a lot of people.  I have a steady job, I own my home, my daughter has a room with so many toys it is a little ridiculous.  We have food on the table.  These are things that were not always a guarantee when I was younger.  During my previous marriage life was so tumultuous I seldom knew what to expect, and afterward, my daughter and I had to hop through a few crummy living situations while I saved up the down payment for a house.  I left all the furniture in the divorce and have spent the last three years piecing my life back to a whole.  And the simple act of repainting a room together to something we can almost agree on seemed like a great idea until it happened.  And suddenly I am taking input from someone else, not making all the decisions alone, or with the help of a tiny person who thinks all the walls should be painted in purple glitter and teal crayon.  What a scary thought to love again.  To get so close to someone else that they can alter the tiny, safe, tranquil universe I have created. To recreate that space as a family, where decisions are made together. Looks so easy, and yet the emotions involved in allowing another voice, allowing someone to help me move things, fix things.  Letting someone in is apparently harder than in the movies.  Trust.  I can haz it.

And truth be told, it actually looks pretty nice in there without my tear goggles on