Last weekend my husband, Joe, and I renewed our wedding vows. This special mass held each year at our church was the same weekend we were celebrating 16 years together, and later this year we will be married for ten. When we read about it in the church bulletin I was pleased that he was just excited as I was. He even went online to “sign us up” so that we’d get a commemorative certificate. Well, that’s about where his excitement ended. I tend to forget that Joe is a pretty simple guy who doesn’t need rose petals and horns to announce his love. I on the other hand…
I got to work on my wardrobe. The Web site specifically said, no wedding attire. They must know me. So I followed other traditions instead. I wanted something old (my mom’s classic beaded wool cardigan), something new (my shoes), something borrowed (a darling dress from my friend) and something blue (a sapphire ring I bought on our honeymoon). I also wore a cross pendant and a tie tack as a pin- they were my parent’s wedding gifts to each other and I am a sentimental fool. I got each of the kids a small gift to thank them for sharing in our special day. I had something for Joe too. I had jokingly asked if he bought me a corsage (I was only half-kidding). This day was going to perfectly celebrate our love.
Except that Joe had to take a class via Webinar that was only offered that morning and had to work right up until it was time to get dressed and leave. So between applying make-up and curling my hair I poured cereal for the kids, helped them dress, found missing shoes- you know, mom stuff. My son did not want gel in his hair and screamed a holy fit over it. There are few days out of the year that I dictate my children’s outfits- today was one of them! When Joe did come in to get dressed my daughter was using our bathroom mirror, my son was pushing his gelled hair down, and I was just zipping up my dress. As we danced around each other in the small space of the bathroom I barely glanced at the shirt he had chosen and thought, oh good, my favorite! But there was no magical moment of him seeing me all ready like a man does when he sees his bride come down the aisle. I’m not even sure he had noticed I was dressed yet. This was not going as planned! To sum up the chaos, I hadn’t made time in the week for any primping, so I was slapping on clear nail polish as Joe herded the kids into the car. I grabbed some bunny graham cracker snacks, a bottle of water, and raced against the clock which was already not on my side.
The mass was longer than usual but two bathroom breaks and the snacks made for two fairly well behaved children. After the fifth “is it time yet?” from the kids, it was. We stood with all of the married couples, facing each other, and joined hands. Spontaneously, the kids shifted in their seats to also put their hands on ours. It was right then that my heart melted. I realized all the frustrations of the morning; that IS our love. Joe works hard to balance providing for our family and making time to “be” with the family and I am happiest when I am in mom mode, being needed by my little people (and Joe too). This is who we are now. Long gone are the days of quiet, of control, of planning things just so. Thank God for that too. Life with kids, and careers, and stuff, is busy and sometimes disorganized or frustrating, but we’re together and we’re usually laughing. Joe and I are blessed to have these two terrific kids and we are blessed to have such a strong friendship and love that make us great teammates. All that we have grown and built over the last ten years is our fun, chaotic, joyful life. We renewed our vows to each other, barely holding back the happy tears. Yep, even my stoic man. It was more heartfelt than I had even imagined it could be.
After we went to the brief reception for cake and our certificate, we had to hurry home to get to a birthday party. Our few minutes of reveling in our love was done (for now). We walked to the car and I realized that I wasn’t actually wearing something new. At the last minute I borrowed shoes from my niece instead of using the ones I had bought. I panicked for half a second, then realized how silly I was being. I absolutely did not need to follow any age-old traditions to make my day perfect. This helped me let go of the perfection I had tried to create and helped me appreciate all of the wonderful imperfections of the day. This was OUR perfect.
I know, it is easier said than done (I live it every day). But embracing the imperfections that make my family so wonderfully us sure helps keep my stress under control and helps me make the most of what really matters most.