We decided to marry in a church. The Catholic Church we both grew up attending; the one my husband's parents were so involved with; where we were both baptized, and then our daughter after us. A beautiful, sentimental location for both of us -- but it came at a few creative costs.
Beatles music during the processional? No, not allowed. The presence of our fur baby as ring bearer? No. Way. And let's just say the fact that my maid of honor was a male didn't go unnoticed by the priest. Thank you, Father, I know he's a man.
So it didn't come as a shock when we weren't allowed to write our own vows.
And as distraught as this made me at the time, it's OK, because I'm not confident I would have been able to express what my love for my partner was then. Of course, we were in love. And I would likely have written something beautiful about promising to make his favorite crepes every Saturday morning; and at the time I would have so strongly meant it. But I would have broken that superfluous vow as soon as my daughter was born -- if not well before. And now, as a new parent, the parameters of what love means to me go so much deeper than pancakes. The sleepless nights, anxieties and sacrifices that make up new parenthood are trying at times; and the way you love your partner through them give so much more meaning to the word than I could have comprehended that beautiful October day, in that Catholic Church.
I now have a better understanding of the definition of love as it pertains to a marriage; and it is an incredibly organic one -- likely to forever change throughout the various chapters of life.
But today, in this current chapter, here is how I'd write our vows -- between new parents:
Today, I promise you this:
You are my family: I will laugh with you in times of joy, and hold your hand tight during times of worry.
I will let you learn how to parent; to make your mistakes and learn quickly to be the best you can be at this tough job, because I trust you, your mind and most importantly, your heart.
I will never judge your parental instinct, or call you overprotective; there is no such thing.
I will kiss you and hug you tight, despite last night's spit-up on your shirt.
I will take the late shift, forfeiting my own sleep for yours, because I want you to feel human again, after too many sleepless nights.
I promise to disregard anything you say in sleep-deprived frustration in the middle of the night, because I know it wasn't you talking.
I will be patient, and give you time -- to adjust to our new life, our new roles, your new body.
I will encourage you to find balance -- to take care of yourself so you can take care of our most prized possession.
I promise to stick with you during this funny time of transition; one that is consumed by things other than "us" -- more important things; little people, that are so intrinsically linked to our love story.
I will tell you, wife, that you look beautiful, even though you haven't washed your hair in days; and I will believe it to be true.
I will tell you it's OK when you give up the fight to nurse, because I know it won't define how you are as a mother -- not even a little.
And as for you, husband, I will cherish your love of our daughter; I promise to trust that you will catch her, but will know when to let her fall.
Let us be partners, teammates, co-captains, and friends on this journey called parenthood, today and all of the days that follow.