Life is a number game

numbers1Numbers

What are these little things we see everywhere?

Numbers

They create a sense of accomplishment,

A sense of self

A sense of self worth.

Value

Place

Location

numbers8Numbers define our lives more than we realize.

Our income

Our debt

Our giving

numbers2They define our self

Our weight

Our height

Our clothing size

They define our home

How much

What area

How many rooms

numbers4They define our accomplishments

What place

What grade point average

How many followers we have

How many likes we get.

But why do we give numbers so much worth in our lives?

numbers0

Because we learn to from the moment we are born. As a mother, I can remember the first questions I would be asked about my pregnancies. What is your due date? How far along? How many weeks? How long until you know the gender? How many are there? How many will you have? All of these questions require a value, a number.

Then, once you have your child, the first things people want to know about a baby are their height and weight. (Numbers)

Then time and date (numbers)

Then weeks/months/years (numbers)

How many words? (Numbers)

We are measured by numbers from the very beginning. We learn that these numbers hold value. They define who we are. People see us as the skinny or fat baby, the tall or short child, the rich or poor person based on numbers.

numbers6

We try so hard to change these numbers. To make them different. To make them better. Being better or best means having the highest or the lowest number (depending on what you are talking about). Being better or the best means comparing yourself to others. We should always caution ourselves from being too quick to compare ourselves to others. When we do that to our children we can create a world of hurt.

As a mom, I often find myself saying that the first or the second or the third child did x, y, or z at such and such an age. Then, I find myself saying this to another parent when we compare our children. It is like a three ring circus of “well, my child was walking at 10 months old. How about yours?” And “Oh! Well, my child could read at the age of 2.” Followed quickly by an occasional, “Well, my child was playing Mozart at three.” And so on. It really makes me sad to think I have done that about and to my children. I Am trying not to do that anymore. I try to use names and their character to describe them, but sometimes that is hard in a society of numbers.

numbers7

Motherhood and life are filled with so many numbers. At one point in my own life running seemed like a good idea. How hard could it be, right? So, I signed up for a 5K. I never practiced, never warmed up, and just showed up to run. I came in last place. It took me 47 minutes to run that 5K and it was the most grueling 47 minutes of my life.

Why? Because I let that get to me. I let those numbers give me value. I have learned that those numbers only hold value in that they pushed me to run faster and farther, and to understand that it takes practice to improve my running numbers.

numbers3As parents we wanted to choose a sport for our boys that would help them find their values: hard work, dedication, teamwork, good sportsmanship, etc.. The sport we chose for them is all about the numbers : track and field.

numbers11Talk about numbers, this sport is about how fast, what place, and how far. We chose it because the one thing I did learn from that race was that I could better myself from that time. Track & Field is a sport that doesn’t compare you to someone else. Well, it doesn’t if you do it right. As coaches and parents we are constantly telling our runners to do THEIR best. Not to worry about the other runner’s best, but to focus on what they can do to beat themselves. We push them in practice to stretch, run, jump and throw better every time. This dedication has lead to personal bests for many of our runners, and even a showing at the Junior Olympics.

The numbers here show our runners that they have grown. That their hard work is paying off. That dedication and focus will lead to great rewards. This lesson is not just for running or jumping or throwing, but it will play out in life.

If they focus on the task at hand, do what they have learned to do and dedicate themselves to it, they will find that they are capable of growing at any task.

Numbers. They mean so much, but also, so little.

A number can never compare to the worth a person feels inside. The sense of accomplishment and wonder someone feels as they rise above a challenge and grow from it. No number can ever replace that feeling.

numbers5So I challenge you. Move forward with fewer numbers. Credit yourself for what you can do, and find your non-number worth. What makes you fully you? How do you find your non-number worth? For me, it is how happy my children are, what they believe they can do, the joy in my marriage, and what I know I am capable of. Numbers do not need to define any of that!

be free to love yourself for you
be free to love yourself for you

Leave a comment and help others find ways to find their worth as well!

Keeping the fun in our house

With the process of finding a house, getting ours on the market, and just life in general. The boys have felt off balance. We are trying to find a balance for them in this crazy busy life.

a snow mamaOne thing we let them continue to do is jump up and go outside with their friends when they knock on the door. There are a few kids in the neighborhood that all play together, and this playing outside is so awesome for the boys. Playing outside is crucial to mental and emotional health in a child, and this outdoor play is so energizing for our boys!

 

 

a minecraft mamaWe also have removed most of their toys from the house right now. This means that boredom can set in easily. Each boy has a special “Treasure” box where they kept their favorite toys. a boys treasureThese boxes are now in their bedrooms, where they can dig in and find a special toy. They love that their treasures are close at hand, and safe. I love that they can play.

a star wars mamaMy boys also love to create. In the past they have created art work and adorned the walls of our house with their creative energy. For over a year our dining room was labeled “The Bat Cave” on construction paper cut in the shape of a bat.a bat cave mamaTheir bedroom was the movie theater, and there was a “Coming soon to a theater near you” poster in the hall. There was also a “Minecraft” Enderdragon a end for mamamade out of several pieces of construction paper on the wall. a stop sign mamaThey need this creative outlet. We now encourage journal writing with pictures, and origami.   They are planning out their creations for our new home.

We also managed to keep their crazy video games in the house, a video gamebut keep them from being a focal point of the entertainment area. We packed away the games they play rarely, kept the new ones from Christmas, and made sure their iPod’s and Kindle’s were accessible.

a baseball mamaAll of this is important to keeping them happy, and keeping our house looking ready at any moment for someone who may want to make it their home. We do not know what the next chapter will look like, but what I do know is that it will be filled with love, creativity, energy, a lot of video games, and boys. We are not in the market to pretend we don’t have kids, we are in the market to be certain our boys have what they need to be happy, and the tools they need to be successful! We also are looking forward to finding our future home.

So what is your story? How did you keep your children entertained while trying to make your house ready for sale or moving?

 

The house we love…making home a house again.

the homePreparing our home for sale has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat equity. We have spent nights over the last few weeks spending 2-4 hours a night painting, packing, staging, organizing, and rethinking our home. This home has done so much for us.

The next family who enters here as home will have freshly painted walls, a storage system in the garage, a deck out back, and new plumbing. They will also have the beauty that this old house puts forth. The walls of this home are bright, and spacious, and have held my children’s pictures, my children’s drawings, and my children’s school work. Now they are holding art that will help people see it’s potential. I am falling in love with this home again, but for the potential it has for its next owner.

The boys have packed away many of their belongings, prizes, and treasures. They have helped paint, helped pack and helped clean. They are as excited as we are about making this move. I will admit I was worried about the stress of a move on them, but they are handling it with understanding, and excitement. We have even taken them to a few open  houses. We want them to understand that we are not moving into every house we look at, but one of them may be it.

punch listLast week I broke emotionally and physically about this house. I had made a list with our Realtor of what she recommended we change to make it appeal to a large audience of buyers. The list was not crazy, just details like paint color, removing a lot of our “stuff” and setting the stage for a welcoming home.  I set a timeline for me. No one else imposed this timeline. And I was setting a super fast pace.  This punch list was consuming my life.

I needed my village.

I needed others to help me see the light at the end.

I sent a text and asked them to come over and lured them in with food.

They all responded, and Friday night I was out getting supplies. I grabbed a few extra rollers, drop cloths, paint trays, and sand paper. Saturday I fuel the bodyheaded to the super market to get food. Normally, I would grab the food whole, bring it home, and prep it. Today, I went for pre-cut fruit, veggies, and cheese. I also grabbed some guacamole, salsa, water, juice boxes for the kids, Arnold Palmer for my dad and brother (but really we all drink them) and hummus. I wanted to be sure there was plenty of filling mostly healthy food at the table so that no one would over indulge in something and feel bad. We also have a few diabetics in.the family so I needed to be sure we had protein and veggies. splurging on cut fruits and veggies and cheese meant that we could get right to work on the house. I think it was worth the little added expense! Plus, no dishes!

part fo the funWe had a busy day of fun and stress for sure! We were able to paint both of the boys bedrooms, the hallway, the stairway, part of the basement, move our packed boxes into the garage for moving to storage, and repair two sections of wall that needed to be patched. We even created a coat closet out of a linen closet that was not being used because of a new linen closet in the bathroom. We got a lot done. All I saw were the things we hadn’t finished.  I saw things we couldn’t finish. I saw a list that kept growing. I went to bed feeling overwhelmed.

I woke up with a sense of, “We can do this. Where is my list? Let’s check some things off.” I was ready to go again. I had forgotten that the most important thing for me to do is rest. I was burning the candle at both ends and unable to finish a task. I am choosing to rest a bit more, and that may mean it takes a little bit longer to get listed, but it is worth it.

We are not finished, but we are really close. stay tuned for pictures of our newly re-imagined house!Home heart

Perception of my mom…

My moms favorite flower is a yellow rose. Ironically, it symbolizes friendship, which I am so grateful we have.
My moms favorite flower is a yellow rose. Ironically, it symbolizes friendship, which I am so grateful we have.

Perception.

~the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
~a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
~intuitive understanding and insight.
The way a person sees an event or actions.
Each person has their own perception. No two people see things the same way. How boring would the world be if we did? Somehow in our own perceptions we need to be able to bend our view to the views of others.
Sometimes even our friends can teach us a thing or two about perception.
In having a conversation with my friend about parents I realized each of us was raised in a different way.
My friend unfortunately lost her father at the age of 13. It was and still is devastating. He was her daddy. He loved her the way only a dad can love a daughter. He protected her, and guided her. She misses him. I could never begin to comprehend losing my father like that, because I didn’t. That does not mean I can’t be friends with her. It means I have to bend my view to reflect hers in moments of intense emotional conversations.
not great pictures of either of us, but 12 hours apart, we are wearing the same outfit. Subconsciously I remembered what she wore, and picked it when I got dressed the next day. this happens way too often.
not great pictures of either of us, but 12 hours apart, we are wearing the same outfit. Subconsciously I remembered what she wore, and picked it when I got dressed the next day. this happens way too often.

We started talking about life while she was nursing her daughter. It hit a spot with me. I love my mother dearly. We are both teachers, we both have the same personality, and we both even end up wearing the same outfit on occasion. Very often we end up wearing the same color pallet on the same day, and even comment how we almost wore something else, and we both say the same thing. We have a bond that is close. Psychologist Erik Erickson would say this bond was formed while nursing. The whole Trust vs. Mistrust stage of life.   Unfortunately, my mother tried, and was unable to breastfeed me. She never told me. She never harped on it. She didn’t have the internet to search for my symptoms, find a friend, complain to the world and then get support. She just fed me. Breast or bottle, she fed me. Thankfully, because I am here. I only know this as an adult because I asked when in school we talked about breast vs. bottle. I asked again as an adult nursing my first child.  I wanted to know if nursing felt for her the way it felt for me.

I had sleep apnea as an infant. This meant that I stopped breathing in my sleep. To this day, I have problems breathing through my nose. This obstruction would make nursing difficult for sure because while you nurse, your nose is your primary source of oxygen.  My mother spent months sleeping upright in a recliner, with me on her chest, so that I wouldn’t stop breathing in my sleep. She sacrificed her own mental health for my life. During the day, she walked around with a smile on her face. She brought me to preschool and dance and the zoo. She is my mom. She did what she needed to do. She never once brought this up. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized what my mom sacrificed for me to live.
As a teen, and even into young adulthood I resented her for a long time for nursing my sister and brother and not me. I have even gone as far as to blame my weight issues on her lack of breastfeeding efforts to her face. The say “Ignorance is bliss” I say that “they” (whomever they are) do not realize how powerful knowledge is. How powerful empathy is. The depths of knowledge we gain as we age are unlimited.
I gained perception…
I know better now.
I was her first.
She tried, and cried, and decided to love me to life. I choked when I nursed. I cannot imagine how much that scared her. So, she held me, slept upright with me,  sang to me, and fed me a bottle. In turn,  I survived and was loved. As a parent now, I would wish nothing else for my own children. The love a mother brings is special. It is different than other love. The pressure we have as moms today is huge. I imagine the pressure then was no different. Just different.
Perception…
As I journey further into motherhood, and teaching, I realize that the moments my mother frustrates me the most, are the moments she is holding me up to be certain I don’t fall. I often revert to teenage brat who does not need my mom to tell me how to do it. The moments she is choosing to speak up, are the moments I am screaming with my fingers in my ears “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”. The moments she tries to show me how to do something, I am three and screaming “I do it myself!”  And yet, she keeps talking, she keeps holding, and she keeps showing.  After all, that is what our moms do.
I wish I could do it over.
I wish I could grab that three year old, swoop her off her feet and say, “Do you see your mommy crying in the car? That is because she has to go to work and leave you with her parents and she just wants to be with you!”
I wish I could grab that 13 year old brat by the shoulders and say , ” you are so ungrateful!” ” your mother is working two jobs full time and finishing her Masters degree and she dry walled a room in the basement while your father is ill so you could have your ‘privacy’ you so desperately asked for!” “Thank her, love her, do you know what she sacrificed for you?”
But I can’t.
I thank her now. I drive her to the doctors when she needs a ride, or just a companion.  I talk with her on the phone for hours about nothing because we both need a bent ear.  I buy her books for school because we both love them, she buys them for me as well. I go on vacation with her because I can. We drink “Blue Drinks” and dance in the pool. I want to be with her now, because I overlooked all of those years. I did not want to be with her, I resented her presence because unfortunately that is what children do when they are teenagers. We both are a lot alike. Stubborn and brave.
Perception
Now I choose to spend my time loving my parents. Being present. Making phone calls. Just listening. Why? Because I get it. I don’t get it. But I get it. As our perception changes, so do our parents and our children. In reality, we change.
This picture is the one I see when I think of my mom and me. She loved and does love me. I see it here, and I see it in everything we do.
This picture is the one I see when I think of my mom and me. She loved and does love me. I see it here, and I see it in everything we do.

welcome home

when we can just unwind and be still
when we can just unwind and be still

I know I have talked a lot about this vacation. To be honest this has been something we have been dreaming about. Being here is like being home.

Why is that important? It is important because we aren’t at home. Cell phone service is spotty, businesses close down between 9-10 at night, and well, we are all together.

When we are here there is no practice. There is no homework. There are no lesson plans. There is no work. There is just us. As I sit in the living room with the family, and the boys are watching a TV show I feel a sense of peace.

seriously so excited to be this close to the ocean!
seriously so excited to be this close to the ocean!

This is what I want my home to be. Peaceful, contained, cutoff from the world. Just being together. On the other side of our glass is the pool, and just beyond the pool is the ocean. my favorite place, 2 minutes from my door.

beautiful  artwork representing what this place was built for.
beautiful artwork representing what this place was built for.

While we sit here there are mother sea turtles nesting on the beach. I love that the boys get to relax, and at the same time they are able to learn. We can spark a passion for nurturing others in this place.

Their passion may not be not may it never be turtle conservation. It may be education, or medicine, or standing up as a spokesperson for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I love that our home away from home is a place where they can grow. I also fee like I can grow. Our last time here is a very distant memory for me, and I am glad for that.

My relationship with my husband was bad. We weren’t seeing eye to eye. We decided to divorce here in this place. That never happened(thankfully!) , however the emotions of that made for a sour taste about this place. As I entered everything seemed different.
I came “home” with different eyes. We are happy, and so this place can’t bring us down. Now, we aren’t perfect, we struggle daily, but what I learned from that experience is that every day is a struggle.

we have come so far with a lot of really hard work
we have come so far with a lot of really hard work

Home is where the heart is. Truthfully, we could be anywhere, but as long as we are in it together, we are home.

Respect

  
Respect
We want it.

We expect it.

But do we show it? 

Respect is not something we are born with. It is something learned.

Respect is not innate.  
As I sit here I my room, and my children are settling in for the night, I am reflecting on our day. The biggest thing I am remembering is the fun. We had a laid back fun day. That fun however has a large shadow. That shadow is the lack of respect I see around us. 

I watch as people literally walk into others. Children run through the halls at other people. A woman drags a stroller into someone else’s  legs. Strangers giving me looks for “disciplining” my own children (AKA: reminding them of the boundaries we have set). 

It is not just on vacation, but everywhere I look. I see children being bribed by their parents to behave, adults being down right rude to others, and doors being closed in people’s faces. 
Why are we here? What has happened to the fabric of our society if this is “ok”. I cringe every time I see my children do any of these things. We talk to them, tell them, remind them, but do we show them? Do we model these behaviors we are begging them for?
When I take a step back I find that I am constantly demanding my children to do this or do that. I very rarely say please. I know better. I was raised by parents from the south. Manners are expected! For some reason, I don’t say it to my children as much as I should. 
But what do we do to change this? For me personally I have been intentional about displaying manners for my children. For you? Hold the door, offer to help, excuse yourself, slow down! Whatever it is that works for you. Maybe even what you expect respect to look like. Be present in the moment and see the people whom your actions are affecting.  No, not the person you just swore at under your breath. No, not the guy you have a certain finger to for cutting you off. No, not even the person you cut off because they cut you off. Look down. That child sees everything. Takes in everything. Wants to be your everything. Be sure you are the example you want them to lead. 

Revamping Mama

this is a statue in our hotel, it is from Africa, and reminds me of how any mother holds their child.
this is a statue in our hotel, it is from Africa, and reminds me of how any mother holds their child.

As we travel for our vacation my husband likes to drive. I am sure it is some masculine testosterone thing about leading his family and being in charge. To me, it is him feeling comfortable. Safe. So I let him. Besides while he is driving I can read.

I have met many people who tell me how carsick they get it they read in the car. (and as of his reading this, I discovered my husband is one of them!) I feel very blessed to not be one of those people. I love to read, and long car rides are a great place to escape and do it.

I brought 6 books for this vacation, and I may need more because I am through 2 already, and we just arrived!
The one I started yesterday has me captivated. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am afraid for it to end. You know that feeling when a book ends and you wonder what happens next. I get as engrossed with the characters in the books I read as I do with my best friends. I am emotionally invested for better or worse, These characters have me.

This book is captivating me.
This book is captivating me.

This story is about a mother.
About a daughter.
About relationships.
It weaves in and out. Every chapter from the point of view of a character, almost every character in the book having a chance to share their perspective.

from the floor of our hotel.
from the floor of our hotel.

The mother works with elephants. Why is this important? It is important because as a mom I have a child who is obsessed with Elephants. We went to the zoo every day to watch them eat and get bathed. We have books, stuffed animals, drawings, mugs, mobiles, blankets, t-shirts, etc… With elephants. His room is painted elephant grey.  We know elephants. When I chose this book, I had no idea that this was going to be such a major topic. There was a reason this book spoke to me louder than the four I had in my hand at the bookstore that day. This book is speaking to me louder than any other. The relationships jump out at me.

A mother elephant has a strong connection with her calf, and elephants as a whole are a matriarchal society. The mom is in charge. The details in this story are gripping me to see the mom I once was and the mom I want to be again.

staring our the window at the ocean.
staring our the window at the ocean.

The hustle and bustle of life take away my ability to be patient. I have no tolerance for silly or crazy actions in my house. Sword fights? Forget it. Painting? Too messy. Legos? Well ok, Legos are everywhere. I used to be the mom whose house had crafts everywhere, trips to the beach and the zoo. Picnics in the backyard. Walks to the playground. I will admit, as my oldest aged, I tired of these things. For him everything had to be routine. If we did something once it had to be part of the routine every day. It became harder to manage his needs and raise a second and then third child. His demands for everything to be the same were becoming more and more unrealistic. And so, I became unable to enjoy those things with him, or any of them. Selfish? Maybe. Worn thin? For sure. Matured? Probably not.

I have all these questions running around my head. Can I be a good mother if I am bored with childish activities? Can I function as a mom if I have more energy for teaching than I do for playing with my boys? I don’t know. Am I the mom I want them to remember? No.

What I do know is that for the last year or so I have been trying to rediscover my love with the “mundane”. To tap in to my child side while maintaining my authority and their respect. We travel to the beach or the zoo. Aquariums and museums. I will let them get soaking wet at track practice in the sprinklers (and then soothe their rashes when we get home). I am playing video games with them, letting them share in picking the music in the car, and doing more of letting them make choices. Trying desperately to put a hold on their childhood while it is still reasonable to do so.

I am also starting to help them be independent. I should have done this a while ago with the oldest, but I didn’t. Am I a bad mom? No. I just wasn’t ready to let go. I wasn’t ready to let them make a mess, make mistakes or even make the decision that I had failed them as a mom. I wanted them grown up, but dependent on me. So they had to be still, not speak unless spoken to, no toys got played with. You can’t have a mess. This wasn’t helping them. It really wasn’t helping me.

this quote hit hard
this quote hit hard

I have to remember that my job as their mom is to teach them love, kindness, respect, compassion (for others), and joy. I am working on this (although it is a true uphill battle sometimes)! I am picking my battles, finding the joy in their chaos, and learning what they love. There is a fine line between loving your child with love, and loving your child with disciple and boundaries, sometimes that line is impossible to see. We as a family needed to find an escape from our current routine.

Track was probably the best thing for this because we were together. Their father and I assisted in coaching and were able to give each child attention and love in a way we hadn’t before. We supported them, raised them up, believed in them, kept them focused on their goals, and allowed them to make choices. They in turn felt respected, respected us, and had fun.

A few weeks ago the boys and I visited the zoo for a nighttime zoo event called “born to breastfeed.” It was a night about mothers and breastfeeding. Women supporting women. And I was drawn to the elephants. These three elephants have lived in the zoo for a long time. The same ones my oldest loved when we could go to the zoo every day. I reminded him of bringing him to the zoo every day and he said, “you did?! I don’t remember that!” My heart broke a little. I want them to have memories. Good ones, and ones that they ( like an elephant) will never forget.

As we journey through this vacation together, I am trying to remind myself to stop, breathe deep, and let the children I am raising remind me how to be a kid again. Tonight that meant getting in the pool and going down the water slide. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Taking Care of Mama

realizing how important image is to me.
realizing how important image is to me.

This week I have had a few transformations that have been important to me. One is, after years of teeth that were stained from medication, I had my front teeth bonded. This experience was intense, but totally worth it as I have a smile now that I am not afraid to show and it did not break the bank to get it done. Feeling free to smile after years of hiding it back is amazing, and I am still getting used to it!

heather business card

The other transformation is my hair. This is not a new experience. My hair stylist Heather is awesome. She is honest, knows the seasons and her clients well, and is always willing to do the best for her clients hair care. I try to cut my hair every 3 months or so. I know it is time to see her when I need a ponytail holder for my hair every day! A few years ago I started adding color (a combination of low lights and high lights, and always a little trim. When I first started visiting her it was for haircuts to donate. Now I maintain a style. A little color, a trim a wash, and a blow dry can make you feel like a model for days!

seriously so excited!
seriously so excited!

For me this feeling is important as I am trying to feel better about myself in everything. I am running eating healthy and dressing nicer. I want to be beautiful for my husband (even if he thinks I am, I want to feel it). We work at our marriage every day, and every day it is work. We have had our moments, every marriage does. I believe there aren’t many exceptions. Right now we are preparing for a trip to a place we went to a few years ago, this trip will be a much different experience. We are in a better place now, but it wasn’t easy, however, that is a story for another day. Right now it is important for my family to have time together, but also, for me to spend time with my husband.

After almost 13 years of marriage things can sometimes get monotonous. You eat the same food, you watch the same shows, and you talk about the same things. The daily “grind” can make it hard to see the person you married sitting across from you. Sometimes you see instead a checklist of things that need to be done. When you are never home because of activities for the kids, work, friends, church, and family commitments, you need a moment to stop. It is nice to get away from the “real” world and spend time together. We planned this trip a while ago, and we are excited to be spending a week at the beach.

One of the things we have been doing to get ready is to take better care of ourselves. We do this not just for ourselves, but for each other as well. We have changed the way we eat, the way we sleep, and the way we communicate. Going on vacation will be a fun and exciting way to reward our hard work. Don’t worry, we have packed our running gear and our protein shakes and a plan for sharing the workout load. We also, have plans to spend time together as well.

I most look forward to sitting on the beach or on the deck of our room, looking out at the water and just being there together. I also look forward to running in a new place. Feeling the sand in my toes, searching for coral, and being with my boys. steve and me

I am finding that I need certain things to prepare myself for a vacation. A list for packing. A family for loving. Something to keep us busy. A way for me to feel beautiful as I head to the ocean for fun! I am most grateful that I get this opportunity with my love.

Love and Marriage

Sunday morning Steve and the boys and I headed to his mothers church for 8:30 mass. It was interesting as her church building has become home to a new  church affiliated with the Lebanese Catholic Church know as Maronite Catholic. The service is similar to those we have been to in the past, but also, different.

The reason we were here this morning was wonderful. Steve’s mom and dad had their vows renewed during the mass. Their Father was wonderfully accommodating, and even had Steve and his brother and sister serve as witnesses. The “ceremony” during mass was to bless their marriage, and renew their vows. It was beautiful to be a witness to.

the happy still couple
the happy still couple

This did not originally register with me, but then Steve’s dad said something unique. He was excited about it being his wedding day, and said “how amazing that (she) got to be married in her church with her pastor? I feel so blessed.” What an amazing testament to love. He was so excited about how happy she was that he was talking about the day like it was hers.  Let’s be honest, it was. She was the bride, she planned it, she asked the priest, she did the leg work. He was happy to do it for her. For them.

I will be honest, vow renewals have never been something that I thought highly of. I just had this naive concept that if you were married, you were married. Why did you need another party? I was wrong. so wrong. Vow renewal is important to couples who have been together a long time, couples who have renewed their love for each other, been through a tragedy and seen the love that supported them through it. It is a testament to love, a testament to marriage that lasts. A testament to family.

After the ceremony we ate at Steve’s mother’s house and like a typical Sunday, there was a lot of food! while we snacked, we were watching old home videos. My father -in-law is king of the video camera. He captured everything from lazy Sunday afternoons, to holidays, to special events, to sporting events, to family fun. One of those special events was my wedding.

My wedding…

my "Aunt" and a very good friend singing a duet at our wedding (The Prayer)such beautiful voices, and so wonderful to hear again like this!
my “Aunt” and a very good friend singing a duet at our wedding (The Prayer)such beautiful voices, and so wonderful to hear again like this!

Stephen and I have been married for almost 13 years. I have NEVER seen a video of our wedding ceremony. EVER!!! so on this Sunday afternoon, we were watching Steve’s brother use the toilet, and then, in a blink, it was our wedding. Me in my pearly bow dress, Steve in a tux and a tiny goatee (no beard like today) and hair. It was a snippet of our day, but I cried, I sobbed, I was so emotional over a day, in our history.

And I was reminded why I love him, why I stay when things get rough, why we fight for us. Every member of Steve’s family said what a beautiful ceremony it was, and what  party we had after. How nice it was to be together with everyone. We had over 200 guests, and over half were his family. As I watched the part of the ceremony where Steve wiped a tear from my eye before kissing me, I remembered it, like it had just happened. How I was embarrassed and in love in that one moment.

I know we are blessed to be together, blessed to have a love that has lasted even this long, and what a blessing it is to be a couple who fights for each other through it all. Even when times get rough, I remember this:

our first dance
our first dance

And I remember why, and I am willing to keep fighting.

Love your loved ones while they are here. The videos we watched had many happy memories. They also included many family members and friends who have gone before. These moments made the whole day come into perspective. The moments we have, the love we share, and the people we are blessed with are never a guarantee.