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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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marriage

Romance at the Waffle House

My valentines and I went to Waffle House for our special dinner this weekend. I’d seen something on social media about how Waffle Houses everywhere were taking reservations and dimming the lights on Valentine’s Day.

Well, it turns out it wasn’t Waffle Houses everywhere, and it wasn’t necessarily the romantic experience I’d dreamed up. This particular one refused to do the whole reservations thing.

There was no romantic music. No flowers. No candlelight…

But candlelight would’ve been wasted anyways. Because it was broad daylight for our dining experience at 4:30 in the afternoon. The sun was so high in the sky the waitress even raised the sunshades — which gave us a fine view of the carwash across the highway.

And there we sat in the stark reality of our twelve-year relationship — eating short order food at octogenarian hours with kindergarten boys flanking us as they fought over booth or counter service.

They were whiney. I was worn out (from a frenzied half-day full of student excuses about how their essays didn’t print and their late grades shouldn’t count…)

The students lost. And the counter won. Only because I was tired of listening to them. (All of them) Plus the counter was closest. And the waitress was eyeballing us warily, with weary shoulders begging us to make a flipping decision.

So I did.

We sat, Boy… Mom… Boy… Dad… and random-teenaged-towhead-with-his-red-MAGA-hat. Nothing says romance more than MAGA. He was by himself. I rest my case.

The MAGA minor left pretty quickly (not long after Mike sat next to him) and soon it was just Mike and me and the boys. They were in solid kindergarten form, chatting about number patterns and bald eagles and whether or not electronics come from nature and how God is probably a boy because it sounds like a Boy Name.

With our food order delivered, and the restaurant clearly between shifts and empty, save us, all three employees took a break. They sat at the counter adjacent to ours, to play on their phones and eat their eggs and ketchup.

As we sat at the counter, dipping toast in sunny eggs and stirring butter into creamy grits, the boys chattered away and the Waffle House crew cut up in a short-order family sort of way. All was cozy and smelled like hash browns.

And then our waitress opened a video on her phone that shouted, “Hey, you old BITCH!” super loud, and she turned about as splotchy as her short-order cook’s ketchup-clad eggs and begged our forgiveness and we all laughed and laughed about it.

Our boys joined in… without having a clue what they were laughing about. They’d been too busy telling us how penguins camouflage themselves.

“We’re school teachers,” Mike told our horrified waitress. “We hear it all the time.”

“Just now, today,” I reassured — because I’m certain somebody with printer issues and a late grade called me that today.

And then our waitress asked my husband about the football team and her — and our — favorite Clemson Tiger, and told us all about how she waits on his family often and how humble and kind they all are. Then she asked me about the boys and if they were indeed twins and if so, were they identical.

And then I looked out the window and saw a woman — with a bouquet of roses riding shotgun in her sedan and strapped in with a seat belt — talking illegally on her phone while blowing smoke out her cracked window. And as the smoke evaporated into the fly-away spit from the carwash across the way, tiny fluorescent rainbows glinted in the motes of the late afternoon sun.

And I realized how perfect this little Valentine dinner was… a perfect little metaphor of our marriage. Rainbows and roses in the distance, full plates in front of us. And love and laughter all around.

Our marriage is cozy and smells more like coffee and kindergarten carnage, than hash browns, but I am one blessed woman. Married to a man who knows I love syrupy sweet on my waffles, not on overly-expensive grand romantic gestures. (That’s why he proposed to my dog the same time he proposed to me…)

Yes, I am one blessed woman.

Now if all the MAGA hats would just leave, all would be right with the world.

Goats, Origami, and Vows

cranes

Today is Mike’s and my seven-year wedding anniversary. Our wedding was a lot like us – eclectic and quirky.

We wed on a goat farm under a giant oak next to a babbling creek. A thousand paper cranes bore witness, along with about fifty of our most cherished family and friends.

There was a belt of active thunderstorms all day long (we got rain on our wedding day – excellent luck, I hear), but a donut hole of blue skies kept our ceremony dry — or as dry as a muggy, mid-July night in Georgia can possibly be.

One of my favorite wedding photos is of Mike and me from behind, his hand at the small of my back, while sweat pearls on my shoulders and beads on my spine. It’s not glamorous, by any means. But it’s real. Like our love.

hot

We put the wedding together in a few, quick weeks. You heard right — weeks, not months. SIX Weeks to be exact.

Mike proposed on Memorial Day (to my dog, by the way) and we didn’t want to wait until the following summer, so we crossed our fingers and made it happen. Apparently we thrive in chaos. I guess it was our trial run for raising twin boys. If we could pull off venue and invitations, dress and catering, cake and honeymoon — the whole nine yards — in a month-and-a-half, we could handle anything.

So yes, Mike proposed to my dachshund. I guess he knows how much I loved the little wiener (No, that’s not an Asian joke!). And while he didn’t EXACTLY propose to her, somehow in my misguided and vodka-fogged, post-Memorial Day party brain, I thought he was talking to her when he dropped on one knee beside me on the love seat. I very nearly missed the question, the question I’d been anticipating for a while. (We’d been dating quite exclusively and seriously for four years, after all.) Sometimes I’m a dumbass.

craneseverywhere

Anyways, once all that got cleared up and I said yes, the game clock began. We knew we had virtually no time, but we also knew we wanted all of our choices to mean something. (Sounds ironic, coming from a woman who thought her future husband chose her dog, but still…)

I knew I wanted cranes: 1000 origami cranes, to be exact. As a nod to Mike’s Asian heritage. 1000 origami cranes threaded with fishing line for the illusion of flight, and strung here, there and yonder-where.

And I wanted a post-Edwardian era gown — the time period of Downton Abbey’s glory; the time period of Agatha Christie’s country house mysteries; the time period of my beloved grandmother’s youth. Those were my two wishes. The rest could fall as it may.

edwardian

The dress came easy. I found it online. When it came, it fit perfectly. The only dress I ever tried on. I felt delicious and decadent — like Lady Mary or Clarissa Dalloway. So the dress came easy.

The cranes… eh, not so much. Anything mathematical is not my forte. And origami, whether it actually is or is not, felt mathematical to me – all those congruent right triangles and bisected angles. I just couldn’t seem to grasp it.

That is until my seven-year-old nephew Jackson taught us how to make them over a veeeeerrrryyy long weekend in Scottsdale. Jackson is an origami wizard. He can craft the Taj Mahal, if given ten minutes and a tissue. He tutored us patiently and precisely, and with a lot of help and some martini time outs (for me, not him), I finally mastered it. Which meant we only had approximately 999 more to go before game time.

Now the goat farm was, quite simply, destiny. For some odd and glorious reason, goats have played a pivotal role in Mike’s and my courtship, from the goat raffle (yes, you read right) I was running when I met him that first football season (we’re weird ‘round these parts) to the charming and bizarre Goats on the Roof general store we visited one Spring Break, we sort of have a weird and wonderful connection with bearded billies. Combine that with the fact that Bethany’s best friend’s family has a goat farm and BAM! Goat farm, it was — complete with tire swing.

tireswing

The rest feels like a blur. A big, glorious purple and gold blur– Mike’s college colors and our chosen palette. The ring bearer’s “pillow” was a prized football. We used books and borrowed vases for centerpieces. I found the perfect shoes – which were plain and simple pumps, laced up and layered in all sorts of awesomeness via Etsy.

Family from near and far arrived to help steam dresses, arrange flowers, decorate the venue, cook Korean BBQ, and participate in the ceremony. One niece played the violin; another read e.e. cummings. My nephews lit the lanterns; Mike’s carried the rings. My brother-in-law, a film editor in Hollywood, shot the video.

Everything, I mean everything, just folded together into a masterpiece. Like our 1000 cranes, we layered, creased, pressed and adjusted until, “Voila!” — dream nuptials in a nanosecond.

football

My girls were my bridesmaids, and while I don’t necessarily recommend the turbulent and tumultuous past required to use your very own daughters in your bridal party, I must say… I must explain… well… when I try to voice what it felt like — having them stand there at the altar with me, supporting and loving me, supporting and loving Mike; opening their arms and hearts and lives to allow him to join our intimate little clan of incandescence and joy… words fail me. I’m at a loss. Let’s just say, it was THE special ingredient, THE added love element that made the wedding as absolutely perfect as perfect can be.

meandthegirls

There are so many other tiny tidbits I could share, including my grandmother’s posthumous contribution, our extended Peters metaphor, hangover knavery, and inadvertent F bombs, but I think I should quit while I’m ahead.

Let’s just say that as Mike and I celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary, I was reminded of how unbelievably blessed we truly are. Our wedding was perfect because of our families. Correction… Family. Our nuclear and extended crews melded into a giant conglomeration of love and crazy and talent — and helped us pull off the impossible: a wedding in six weeks.

And on that sublime and sultry July night seven years ago, we were folded, pressed, and pleated into a multilayered, multifaceted masterpiece of a fine, new family.

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