Love me when it hurts

“If we really want this thing to work we gotta go to war….” Avant, ‘When It Hurts

I better start asking “will you love me when it hurts,” because it’s hurting more and more. This blended family thing is an experiment in futility ; or at least it seems so sometimes. Inevitably,  no matter how much we profess to be all about “ours,” the “mine mentality ” seems to be underlying every decision.

If I thought children were unwilling pawns in relationship chess before, I’m certain of it now. Except I forgot to figure in the other pieces playing the board. The castle, or career and financial dealings . The Knights, our siblings. The bishops, in-laws and family elders. And though there’s only one king and one queen on this board, they often play on opposing sides instead of as a ruling, supporting pair.

Frankly,  I’m not sure I want to spend life in a game of strategic action. I’ve got apps for that. But honestly,  if the extended family is constantly invited in to cause strife and further divide, there’s no winning.  It’s one thing to confide in someone – to seek a listening ear that doesn’t connect to a wagging tongue. It’s another to entertain intrusion,  confusion and, ultimately isolation.

I’m ready to lay my piece down and declare game over. I can’t see putting children through an endless, destructive game.

Remembering Project Mama to Mrs.:This I vow

When we said “I do,” we said much more. Our lives had been so different, and yet the people we’d become independently still seemed so harmonious together.

It’s kind of like that Musiq Soulchild:
“The answer is yes. When two or three years from now you start having some doubts about if this love will last, the answer is yes. I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you. You don’t have to guess. The answer is yes…”

We elected to skip the traditional vows, spent time researching model statements of other couples. In the end, though, we decided to let our hearts speak. Hubs drafted his vows to me by text during down time at work. I replied with my own. We polished them, careful not to change one another’s voice.

And when finally we e-mailed the officiant with our scripts, they projected our story and our carefully determined promises.

Rachelle’s: It has been quite a journey to get to this moment. At times the path seemed endless. But God saw fit to answer prayer and allow our separate paths to converge again. Here, today, we continue together on a single path. And now, in front of the people we most cherish, I vow to always encourage and support you, to love you for who you are and who you will become, to be your comforter when you need it, your strength when you feel weak, and your confidant when you need a listening ear. I vow to be your cheerleader, your friend, your lover, your prayer partner. You are my gift from God, my companion on this journey forevermore.

Rob’s: Two hearts destined to be together; separated, to meet again. Here I stand before you with a promise to honor, cherish, and love you for the rest of our lives. To be the best husband I can. For I’m not perfect, but I promise I will do my best. You are my past, my present, my now, my future, my forever.

Project Mama to “Mrs.”: a picture is worth (take 2)

The photos arrived via e-mail link while hubs and I were on our last few days of the postponed family honeymoon. What a special present for us, the newlyweds, still celebrating our “I do” in picturesque Myrtle Beach.

Excited, we clicked on the links from my cell phone, squinting at each picture as it flashed before us in a slide show. The pictures stopped. The end. My eyes began to well with tears. What was this? Surely this is not it?

I reran the wedding in my head:

Cam should’ve been by my side on my special day. Freshly suited in his new peacock strap, he could’ve been discretely tucked into my bouquet and at the ready to capture the fleeting moments of my wedding. But he sat alone, abandoned in my father’s trunk. He wasn’t welcome to join me down the isle. He was unavailable to capture the stunning vignettes I saw playing out around me in the rush of activity following the ceremony.

I was comforted by the shutter clicks I heard as we recited our vows. I saw the many cameras of my guests as we greeted them near the bell for the first time as the Smiths.

I’m told I was yelling throughout the posed picture taking – – barking out complaints and orders that were ignored (except of course in post-commentary about my poor behavior by new in-laws who clearly don’t know me).

I obliged when told to walk across shifting gravel to a cement square in the shade of our beautiful chapel. I smiled even as our elders stumbled as they tried to get to the same solid rock. I assumed – – against a building feeling of dread – – that the resulting images would have complimentary backgrounds. Why else would such a dangerous and inconvenient spot have been chosen? There must’ve been something seen in the shaded light, or the reflective quality of the glass building. After several switches of people, I grew fed up with the location and insisted we move on. I was chastised for not being trusting.

Eventually, I demanded someone retrieve Cam.

The resulting sequence of photos confirm my concern: oddly placed people cautiously balancing themselves while holding forced smiles – some with heels sinking into the gravel, some smushed awkwardly too close to remain on the stepping stones. The chapel stood off center in each image, with its wooden framing distracting the eye. Later group photos taken in a spot of my chosing include a simple rustic brick wall that blends into a soft background and showcases the of people. But those first photos are the ones that have my grandparents featured. The framed portrait of our beloved guests mocks me from my father’s living room wall – a poor display of my special day.

Our online gallery is incomplete. That blessing of the rings – when the minister held up our rings and prayed for our union? Missing. The guitar strumming of my brother as I came down the isle? Lost. The interactions between our four new siblings? Apparently not taken. But there are shots of my silk florals in abundance.

It seems odd, but I remember each posed picture. In the blur that was our day, there were many orchestrated images. They’re not in the gallery we were given.

I e-mailed a note of disappointment to the photographer clearinghouse we paid for the six hours of photography. The replying rep assured me these were “editor’s picks” and not the wealth of images taken. Except if these are the images deemed editor’s picks, that made them the best photos from the photographer’s work. The disc of all our images, the response continued, would come by mail. Surely the photos I thought were there would be included?

Impatiently, I wait. My efforts to have hope -to be positive – however, is thwarted.

Project Mama to “Mrs.”: a picture is worth

I’m reminded, unfortunately, that you really do get what you pay for. And “cheap” is just that. Now quality and bargain? Those are different things entirely. Semantics.

I called in early December to inquire about wedding photographers.
Before I was engaged.
Before I had a ring.
Before I confirmed a ceremony date and location.

Knowing me, this should come as no surprise – – pictures are everything when it comes to memory catching. Words pale in comparison to a photograph freezing a moment – a feeling – for all time. Images have power.

It’s why the “I’d marry you in the backyard in my drawers” line was sweet but was never a viable option for my nuptials.

It’s why I outfitted Cam with his own wedding day strap to match the groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Rob and I spent an hour critiquing photographs on the website of the photographer clearinghouse we’d chosen to contract through. That one? Too blurry. That? Odd angles and cropping. That? Perfection – – just look at the expressions. And that? I need a photo just like that of me. We rated each photo that popped up to tell the liaison exactly what we hoped to get from our own photographer.

Weeks after we paid the required 50 percent of our contract fee, I called to ask if a photographer had been chosen based on our style preferences. It was already mid February. I was told “not yet” and, growing frustrated and worried, asked “What if I don’t like who you’ve chosen? We’re running out of time.” I was assured all would be okay. I was skeptical.

Two weeks before our day, we drove out to meet our photographer at a cafe. I presented her with a shot list I’d found on theknot.com (with stars for must haves and lines drawn through what I didn’t require). We told her what we’d planned – our color scheme and theme; of special touches added into this family-merging ceremony. She was the first to know how our day would play out. I stressed several times that our 75-maximum guests were all VIPs (family and friends). Even the DJ was a brother of sorts to us. I named critical people who we had to have photographed – an aunt battling unpredictable health, grandparents and great grandparents, and siblings. She was amiable and receptive – – seemingly excited to help us preserve our day.

I left the meeting confident I’d be given hundreds of beautiful captures of every minute detail I’d meticulously prepared.

But

Project Mama to “Mrs.”: Wedding Day Rewind

Three months of planning elapsed in record time. It seemed like every day involved a search for inspiration and, once found, a search for ways to make something amazing of my own. I’d browsed through countless wedding magazines (admittedly ogling over the way photos were captured, not at the subjects) while contemplating my color scheme and a thematic symbol to tie everything on my day together.
I settled on peacock feathers because of the plumes’ beauty when caught in light. Then, gold and hues of green mingle with purples and blues in such harmony that it’s breathtaking. Everything selected in our wedding – – our gold and green ties, our sashes, our flowers and table decor – – nodded towards this blend of color.

And, of course, I had to incorporate the feathers themselves, as hubs and I loved the idea of two feathers caught in the winds of life but somehow crossing paths.

It was also important to ensure our babies were part of the ceremony. Enter my research of blended family wedding traditions. The kids loved being able to mix their colored sand in our family heart. (Now we need a hearth at home to display it on.)

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful. Enough said.

My baby brother, Art, played his guitar for me as I walked down the isle with Daddy. The beautiful cords of “Share My Life” (Kem) filled the glass and wood chapel. Rob chose the song specifically for that moment.


“Hakuna Matata: No worries” announced our family of six to our intimate reception group. Family (and friends who’ve become them) greeted us with bubbles – these little iridescent spheres shimmered overhead before floating down around us.

We missed our first dance as a couple. There was no Father-Daughter dance (though I wanted one and had picked music for it). But, there was line dancing. In five inch heels, this was not easy despite being wondrously fun.

Under special arrangement with the Marine Corps Museum event staff, we had pictures taken in the charmingly rustic tavern.

Guests ate from our decadent buffet (hubs and I missed it in our mingling) and savored strawberry, lemon, and vanilla cupcakes.

When we slipped away together as husband and wife, there was a simultaneous sigh followed by an indescribable excitement. We did it! We actually pulled off the biggest public event of our lives. And we’re officially a family of half a dozen… whoa, that’s a lot of people.

Lo Hicimos!

We’ve reached the end of the episode, hit each of the three landmarks, and we did it! Yes, Project Mama to Mrs. has finally come to an end. Or is it a beginning?

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