Oh, to put into words our wedding coming up this week. This day when we *officially* become a bigger family.
Those that read this often or know me well know that I am sentimental. And that is me. That is why I have a tattoo of a heart of my wrist – I wear my heart on my sleeve.
Next Saturday is the day that we become a family of three, and Liam, my beautiful son, is walking me down the aisle.
We have been a small family, he and I.
Years of love and years of grand adventures.
I say this often – adventure. Because that is how we embrace life. Finding the ordinary joys. And loving it. Appreciating it.
The way he would wake up and in a momentary fit of rage, would throw his pacifier and red monkey out of his crib. Then, immediately regretting the loss of his dearest friends, would cry for them. I’d get him, and his face would still be wrinkled and we’d just cuddle.
Dressed as a knight, storming the great castles of the co-op. Sometimes we’d be cowboys and robbers. And I remember how I surprised him with a real horseback riding lesson in Wisconsin Dells and he was so excited he didn’t even speak for the whole hour. His jar dropped, speechless in the slow walking movement of Banjo, the horse.
Climbing trees and conquering the world, we did it all. We were partners as he went to Edgewood classes with me, attending his first college orientation at the age of four, because Mom was going back to school (and couldnt afford a sitter). We’d get out of an exam together, after he had colored quietly for two hours, and we’d make a mad dash for the playground.
It’s been us.
And while I occasionally dated, I never really introduced Liam to anyone, or at least in any official capacity. Never wanted a person to go in and out of his life, knowing he was watching me, knowing he would learn about love from me. I wanted it to be secure. To be safe.
And then I met Chad. And it was so different.
It felt right, intuitive, right from the start. I’ve said this before, but Chad and I knew by our fourth date that we’d get married someday. It was shortly thereafter that I introduced Liam to Chad. We built an epic fort that night, ordered pizza, and we watched Spiderman under the blankets.
Liam embraced the idea of “Mom’s boyfriend” in the best way a six year old could – by teasing me about it. “Mom LOVES Chad!” It was the most embarrassing insult he could muster as we played Monopoly together, trying to shake me out of buying more houses.
Just like Chad and me, it was intuitive with Chad and Liam. So easy to joke. So easy for Chad to head out to the garage and ask Liam if he wants to come out and help him fix the bikes. For Nerf battles to ensue. For silly bedtime stories to happen.
Parenting is so hard. Definitely the best, but the hardest thing I have (or will) ever do, I think. And stepping into a child’s life at the age of six and assuming a new role is hard. Not having those years of learning the nuances of this tiny person, the memories that bond you, the tricks of the trade that help with bedtime or angry moments. He became a stepparent, and did it, has done it, with such grace.
We have new adventures now. The two of them have their own adventures now. New pictures and stories of their own.
Laughs and jokes that they own together. Share together. And it’s so beautiful. Truly I never imagined this. Our tiny family has grown.
Liam picks up Chad-isms, and makes the same jokes at the dinner table. I can see the influence, and I am truly, deeply proud of what this has become. Letting this person in, embracing the much larger adventure of love itself.
I wasn’t just Mallory. We were always package deal. Liam and me. Nuances, and sentimental hearts, cowboy hats, and camera in hand. And I see why I never fully let another person I dated in – it was so special, and someone had to see the magic of raising a kid. Not the burden. Not the hardship. Because we, in our laughter and knight costumes, have a special connection. Chad saw that, and we saw the magic in him. And we chose each other.
Liam and I have had so many adventures. So many trips. Sword fights and play dough castles.
We’ll still have our photos, our adventures, our jokes and laughs. Our cuddles and stories late at night. Our birthday trips to Chicago, and I’ll happily pretend to be every other character in the Mission Impossible/Indiana Jones drama that he’s concocted in an afternoon. It’s us, and that will never go away. But now I consider us lucky that we have Chad – an excellent smore maker, soccer player, fort builder, and StepDad. We are a bigger us.
This week, before the ceremony in front of our family and friends, we will have a private one, with only us, where we will honor this moment. Share our promises together, and respect this big day, where we officially become a family of three.
Later, Liam will walk me down the aisle, hand in hand, and after we are proclaimed husband and wife, the three of us will walk down together. A new family. A bigger family.
In our promises to love and commit to each other, I am so thankful for all that we have had. Because it all brought us here, on the shores of Lake Michigan, saying ‘I do’ to this.