It’s been nineteen years since we stood in that little chapel and became a family. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was wearing a cream colored lace dress, and couldn’t hold still because my dream was finally coming true. I was getting a DAD. A real life Dad. One that would be there for me every single day of my life.
This one was special. Not only had he purchased my mom a ring, but he also bought a tiny gold band that he placed on me during the ceremony. My mom and I, we were a package deal and he knew it. This marriage wasn’t just a commitment to my mom, it was a commitment to me as well.
> I should clarify, my dad is not my biological father but he is MY dad and I will not refer to him in any other way. He has earned that title. So as you read Dad, keep that in mind.<
Today I sit here thinking about my parents and their marriage; because let’s face it, I was there from the Newlywed stage and on. I’ve thought back on all of the memories I have, the good, the bad, and the not so pretty. So many memories, and honestly so many life lessons they taught me, especially when it comes to marriage.
I’ve heard it said that girls with Daddy issues, tend to end up with some not so great fellows. But I think I am the exception to the rule, you see because of my unique situation I have been able to see marriage through young eyes, and because of that I think I have snagged me an amazing spouse.
My parents may have not found each other until I was almost nine years old, but their story has shaped me into who I am today. Without their example of love, forgiveness, gratitude, and kindness I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Their marriage is far from perfect, but here is what I have learned.
- When you know you are meant to be with someone, you know. Don’t question it. Just go with your gut. My parents proposal story is one that makes me giggle to this day, especially hearing it from my mother. It was a Thursday morning, and my dad called to ask her if she wanted to get married tomorrow. She declined saying that I had school. Oh my mother, the women who is always thinking logically. So he counter offered with a Saturday wedding, and she accepted. That was it. That night we went and bought rings, I went to school the next day, that night after school we drove to Reno, NV and they were married the next morning. They knew they weren’t meant to spend their lives together, so why wait? This is something I have tried to carry with me. To listen to my gut, and just go with it. When it feels right, don’t hesitate, don’t let the moment pass, just do it. Which is probably why I was engaged and married so quickly. But here I sit almost 8 years later happily married.
- Marriage is hard, but you fight like hell to make it work. The newlywed stage wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for my parents. I vividly remember burnt pizzas, smoke detectors going off, and a little yelling and crying. Merging two lives together isn’t easy. Everyone has their quirks, flaws, and ways of doing things. When you throw a new person into the mix, it will most definitely have growing pains. I remember thinking to myself, “why did you get married if you are just going to fight?” But my parents fought, they fought to make it work. Just because you know you are meant to be with someone, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and the second go around can be rough because you already have a target on your back. But they are both stubborn, and their love for one another has kept them fighting all these years. When you want something badly enough, you fight for it.
- You can find love in the most unexpected of places, even when you aren’t looking. My mother was content being single, thank you very much. She had an incredible job, a young daughter to take care of, and she was most definitely not looking to add anything to her life. But my grandmother (who I love dearly) had other plans. She met a nice looking man at the local drug store where she worked. She knew he was perfect for my mother. So she invited him over to the house, my mother was less than enthusiastic and refused to step foot inside the house. Instead she called my grandmother from inside the car and asked for her to send me outside. But my dad and grandma they didn’t give up. He showed up at her office to invite her to lunch, and she hid from him, but eventually she accepted. I’ve learned that love comes when we least expect it, mine came in the form of a handsome blonde haired boy who picked me up in a church parking lot because I had been crying. Did I expect this friend who listen to me sob about other boys to become my husband? No, but here I sit married to that blonde haired knight in shining armor.
- Love has nothing to do with DNA. My parents not only had to navigate being newlyweds, but they also had to figure out how to blend a family seamlessly. Just as my mom and I were a package deal, my dad came with two handsome young boys who lived a few states away with their mother. I can honestly tell you, that from day one my family was a family. My brothers were my brothers, not steps, not half’s, just my brothers. My parents have done an incredible job of making each one of us feel as if we are their biological children. My dad went as far as legally adopting me. My biological father didn’t want to be in the picture, so my dad he stepped up. My brothers have a mother of their own, but my mother has played a huge role in their lives. She loves them unconditionally. Their love has taught me that DNA doesn’t matter, unconditional love exists.
- Family is everything. Most importantly my parents have showed us that above all, family is everything. That it is the most important thing in your life, and to never take it for granted. Supporting one another is crucial in a marriage. Sometimes you have to be there (i.e ballet recitals, basketball games, track meets, plays, etc.) even when you don’t want to be. You show up because that’s what family’s do. They are there for one another in times of need, celebration, and everything in between. It’s not always pretty, you will have your differences, but showing up is the key.
My life is a little unconventional, but I am so grateful for the lessons my parents have taught me. Through them I have been able to navigate the waters of marriage. I have been able to take the examples I was shown, and merge them into my own life.
To my Mom and Dad. Thank you. Thank you for loving me. For raising me to be the person I am. I am forever grateful that you made the choice to run away and get married on a semi whim. My childhood was nothing short of magical and I owe it all to you. Happy Anniversary! Cheers to many more!