Let they who cried raise their hands

*raises hand*

Happy tears. So many happy tears.

Why, you might ask? Well, the fiance is now the husband. My husband, to be exact. There are many like him, but this sharply-dressed, ever-surprising, and very loving man is mine.

I was going to go over the day in a little more detail, but I think a list of my favorite moments is better.

First, three of our close (and mutual) friends helped us get our reception area set up, and the gentlemen did so wearing their formal wear! (Our female friend was sensible and brought her dress to change into.) One friend, who I will refer to as the True Scotsman for his Scottish formal wear (yes, including a kilt!), masterminded putting our initials in lights on the stage. He also drove the other two to Safeway for Chinese food (“Chickadoodle, what do you want?” “…An eggroll?”) and some salad for lunch.

In return, I braided the True Scotsman’s hair. Well, actually, I do that anyway. Everytime. (“True Scotsman, where’s your hair tie? I’m braiding your hair.” *hands it over*)

The True Scotsman and our other two friends (Mr. Fancypants and Ms. Marvel-ous for this post) also got in on some of our pictures, including a few Sopranos-esque pictures in our dimly lit waiting studio. (Our photographers were fabulous, by the way, and every once in a while, we got “LIKE YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, GUYS!” during our photos.)

The ceremony is a favorite chunk of moments. From the walking in, to everyone expressing their support, to my now sister-in-law doing the reading, to the saying of the vows (“I think you just made everyone cry” –our officiant), to the kiss… it was wonderful. Seeing so many happy faces as we walked in and out made my day. Friends and family had come from miles away–some across the country, some I hadn’t seen in years–and it was like we’d never been apart.

In the quiet time we stole after signing our certificate, some appetizers were brought in for us, and the husband applied bandages to some blisters I’d gotten at the rehearsal dinner. (Normally, I’d have done it myself, but 15 pounds/several yards of very puffy dress and petticoats did make that a little more difficult.)

I tried to talk to everyone before dinner. I didn’t get to, but there were plenty of precious moments then, too, including a male friend (Very Tall Guy) expressing his desire to have my dress. (Not entirely sure he was kidding…) Another friend (Exuberance Personified) proceeded to rather lovingly hug-strangle the husband while proclaiming his happiness. I got to reconnect with the friends I hadn’t seen in so long. There were family pictures. I got to see two lovely young ladies who I’d watched when we were all younger, as well as their parents, who are amazing and wonderful people in their own right. A cousin’s toddler daughter was fascinated by my dress.

Dinner kind of flew by, though we did get to eat, which was, y’know, good. Unfortunately, my headache had resurfaced by that point, but about ten different people offered medicine of various kinds, and my oldest brother and a family friend double-teamed me with a shoulder and scalp massage, and my mom took my hair out of its pins. (Thankfully, we’d done all the “official” stuff by that point.) Before that, a friend (Blue-Haired Beauty) exclaimed from her table about writing on so many of the little strips left to give advice to us, “Guys, I think I have a problem…”. My dad and Ms. Marvel-ous gave rousing speeches, and I cried. Again.

We had our first dance and cut the cake (which was amazing, let me tell you). Then, the party really got into full swing. By some miracle of luck and a bit of collaboration, after we figured out that dancing on the stage wasn’t great (there were no speakers on the stage, and it was HOT), we were able to pull the tables on the ground aside to create a dance floor, and a lot of great dancing happened. My dad, as expected, totally got into it. Some friends danced with my cousins’ kids, which was adorable. Very Tall Guy and Ms. Marvel-ous pulled off a show-stopping and un-rehearsed “Shut Up and Dance” routine. A bunch of people joined us for the Cupid Shuffle. (And our amazing informal MC/DJ did a great job of rearranging our playlist to make it work. Can’t thank that guy enough…)

For as much fun as we were having, though, we were exhausted (I woke up at 5:30 that morning… and never managed to get back to sleep!), and when the towncar showed up 45 minutes early, the husband and I decided that everyone could enjoy the rest of the party, but we needed corgi pictures and sleep, and I needed a while to brush my hair out and get the pound or so of (quite gorgeous) makeup off my face.

Naturally, we didn’t make our escape unscathed–there were many noisemakers. The loving chorus of dying goose noises filled the night as we sped away, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes.

And now, we’re honeymooning in Victoria. (This time, we remembered not to bring apples across the border…) It’s been one hell of a journey, but, sitting next to the husband–my husband–I know it’s going to be one heaven of a marriage.

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I’m open, but I’m not THAT open…

Thrice this past week, I’ve been asked how soon I plan to get pregnant after I get married. (Yup, how soon plan. Me. The fiancé gets no say, apparently.)

One, I’ll admit I kinda walked into. Cooing over photos of my cousin’s children and then admitting a craving for tuna (which I haven’t had in forever) does kind of create a natural segue. It really was a “Wow, you really like kids! Are you planning on being a mom soon?” sort of thing. Okay. I can handle that. (My no was followed by the second question of if I already was pregnant. Pro-tip: DON’T FREAKING DO THIS. Not okay.)

The other happened as I was cooing over other photos. I quote, “Oh, I see where this is going: that’s why you’re getting married!”

Look, I get that it’s teasing. I’m not looking to play the victim or cry injustice here. But the implication that kids will take (or worse, already have taken) precedence over other qualities in a spouse really rankles.

Yes, I unapologetically go to mush over babies, and I like working with kids. I’ve always known that I want to be a mom someday. Honestly, I think the fiancé will make a great dad when we’re (yes, “we”! The fiancé gets a say!) good and ready. But I’m not just biding my time by programming–it’s a passion and I want to keep doing it, even after kids, and I don’t love the fiancé just because he could be (as a friend rather aptly put it) a “baby-enabler”. He is so much more than that. He is my partner in crime, my sounding board; he understands and accepts me. He’s a good cook, has an infectious smile and laugh, and plays a mean game of Scrabble. He gives the best hugs and, being far more aesthetically inclined than I, occasionally helps me pick out what to wear. We first bonded over composting and origami, and only later found out that we were compatible in terms of life and family goals, and while kids are a pretty important part of compatibility (you can’t really have half a kid, or only the good parts of a kid), again, I’m marrying him for everything else, too, and quite possibly everything else, first.

Also again, I get that it’s good-natured teasing. I really do. I’m not about to report either coworker for harassment or anything–in this case, it would be counter-productive. However, I have resolved to speak up next time. Not harshly or anything; just “Hey, I don’t appreciate the implication/you asking me about something this personal”. I know they’re good guys and will take it just fine. We all make mistakes. This is just a reminder to me that some have a deeper effect than they seem.

An open letter to my mom on Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,

First off, happy Mother’s Day.

I don’t remember the day I was born (duh) or the day you brought me home from the hospital (double-duh—I was only two days old!), but I’ve seen pictures. The one I remember most vividly is you holding me maybe minutes after I was born, but probably more like hours. I mean, I don’t know firsthand what I woman who’s just been through labor really looks like, but it looks like it was recent enough. Anyway, this is going to sound unglamorous, but I can see some of the blots of busted capillaries, and all I can say to that is wow. You loved me enough to bust those capillaries (and God only knows what else) laboring to actually get me out into this insane place we call the world after carrying me for nine months and before carrying me for another, I dunno, twelve until I learned how to walk.

I don’t have concrete memories of you until I’m about three or so, but I do remember fragments from before. I remember fall, especially cleaning for the holidays, with that special astringent lemony scent that only Soft Scrub has. I remember hearing Enya and Fiona Apple. I remember being warm and cozy, and feeling safe, and, most of all, loved.

I’m not going to go through every single memory I have of you, but what I will say is this: every one is a treasure. Okay, most of them. I say “most” because I know I did some stupid things that rightfully pissed you off, and you’re scary when you’re mad. (Seriously, the thought of you being angry still cows me at times because you’re good at the teacher-ly wall of fury thing.)

I’d like to think that you’re proud to say “That’s my Chickadoodle!” in a lot of ways. I know you are in some, anyway. Honestly, there are times when my fall-back option is to just ask myself, “What would Mom do in this situation?” Usually, I call and ask, but I’ve done this for snap decisions, too, and I’d say it’s served me well.

A lot of the time, though, I can look back and remember what you taught me without having to think. You taught me that it’s okay to ask for help. You taught me how to swaddle a baby (or, in my case, a baby doll). You taught me to never back down. You taught me to trust my instincts. You taught me to read twice and for God’s sake, show my work if I want to get any points. You taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes. You taught me how to bake coffee cake and French breakfast muffins. You taught me how to sew, and how to use that funny iron-on stuff that allows for much easier hemming.

You taught me a lot, and you’re not done teaching me yet. But more than that, like I said before, you love me, even when I’m not all that lovable. You go above and beyond, and someday, when I have kids, I hope that they’ll write things like this about me, and that they’ll look at you and say, “My grandma is awesome”. (It’s a ways off, yet, but I still hope it happens!)

I love you, Mom. Now, and every day. Always have, always will.

Your Chickadoodle.

The Case For Mothers’ Day

As we all know, Mother’s Day is this Sunday. So, of course, in anticipation of this, I have written a long-ish, sappy note that I will post here because the world really should know just how awesome my mom is.

However, this day is not just about one woman; not to me, at least. It’s about all the women who have taken on the role of a mother at some point in my life. Yes, my mother carried me for nine months and labored with and birthed me, and for that, she’s special; my number one mom by far. Nobody—nothing—could ever take the place my mom holds in my heart.

But that doesn’t mean that what the other women in my life have done for me isn’t special and wonderful. My aunts—whether they have children or not—have always been there for me. My grandmas (God rest my mom’s mom), too. It doesn’t matter whose kid you are; at family gatherings, we’re all just one big blob of relation, blood and otherwise. Some of my cousins are moms, too, and they’re older than me by enough that I can look to them for motherly advice, as well. (No, ladies, you are not old; just experienced. And I love you.)

And then, there are my friends’ moms. Some of them have known me since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Some of them have met me only once. I daresay that not all of them love me, or even know me all that well, but the ones that do have definitely treated me as their own, and that’s a wonderful feeling that I want to thank them for giving me.

There are so many wonderful moms in my life. How on earth can I celebrate just one? So, I propose that instead of a singular Mother’s Day, we celebrate Mothers’ Day. It’s exactly the same. Heck, your mom can be the only mom you celebrate. Or you can celebrate no mom at all! In fact, if there are any computer science people reading this, I propose we call this day Mother* Day. (To understand this in-joke, look up the meaning of “Kleene star”.)

In some circles, I’ve heard that celebrating anyone other than the mother(s) who birthed/adopted you, even if you are celebrating your own mother(s), is rude. It takes attention off your own mother, or you’re hogging someone else’s mom, or something. I don’t get it. (I do get that everyone has their own traditions, but really, jumping down someone’s throat because they invited a mother to an event out of kindness and love is going a bit overboard.) I also don’t get allowing only daughters to celebrate their mothers, which is another thing I’ve heard happens—are kids not allowed to celebrate the parent who doesn’t share their gender?

I’m not trying to say that we should scrap the concept of a day to celebrate mothers, or a day to celebrate fathers, or gender in general. I’m saying that I want to honor all these women (and when Father’s Day rolls around, all these men) who have taken on such pivotal roles in my life, and that I want to do it in such a way that it makes them comfortable and loved and respected. So, no, you don’t have to do it my way. Nobody does. But me? I will, anyway.

My boyfriend is not Mr. 300 Roses*, and I’m just fine with that

*Title refers somewhat obscurely to the South Korean drama Hotelier. Yes, I watch K-drama on occasion. Yes, you can make fun of me for it.

WARNING: The following post is one of those “crown freakin’ princess of snark” posts. Let it be known that this is what you get when you imply a lack of lavish gifts means my boyfriend isn’t worth it.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of comments from strangers on a necklace the boyfriend gave me for my birthday a couple years ago. Most of these exchanges go something like this:

Stranger: That’s a really pretty necklace!

Me: Oh, thanks!

Stranger: Where did you get it?

Me: My boyfriend made it for me.

Stranger: (in awe) He made it?

Me: Well, he didn’t stand over a forge or anything, but he picked out all the pieces and put it together himself.

Stranger: (looks slightly disappointed, slightly pitying) Oh.

In fact, a little while ago, I got an “Oh, yeah, you can get that charm anywhere.” Her tone and facial expression made her implications clear: my boyfriend doesn’t care about me though he got me a charm that means something to me, just because it’s mass-produced.

I’m sorry, ladies. I’m sorry that I’m forcing you to feel frustration that I won’t let myself feel, because clearly, this is something that upsets me. I’m sorry that my boyfriend is not giving me my due, that he doesn’t regularly buy me expensive jewelry and a dozen roses every three days so that they stay fresh. I’m sorry that I suffer this in silence, wearing a token of affection just to make him happy while clearly burning with shame on the inside.

Oh wait, no, I’m not.

You know, I really don’t give a damn. My boyfriend has much better things to do than stand over a forge for hours, let alone become a metal smith in the first place. He picked out the components of this necklace with me in mind, and that’s all that matters. Hell, I don’t really like expensive gifts. I’m always scared I’m going to lose or break them, so what use are they to me?

My boyfriend takes the time to figure out what gifts I want. It doesn’t matter how inexpensive they are—what matters is that he puts his heart into it, and I’d rather have something meaningful over something expensive any day.

I love this necklace. I love that the clasp is impractical and that it tries to fall off almost every time I wear it. I love that it gets stuck in my hair. I love that it’s silver and not gold. I love the pendant. I love that it’s not ostentatious. I love that, by keeping it close to my heart, I can keep my boyfriend close to my heart.

And, in my own incredibly snarky, self-serving, and quite likely more than slightly delusional way, I love feeling like our relationship is so awesome that some people just don’t get it.

I might not have all the answers, but I do have one

It’s said that one key to any successful relationship is having common interests. Of course, you don’t have to love or hate all the same things that the other person does. Disagreement is healthy, too. But some things, you just can’t sacrifice.

Before the boyfriend and I were together, our relationship basically consisted of, “You like to compost? So do I! We should get married!” I asked a friend for her blessing, there were witnesses—it was all quite serious (okay, seriously amusing) business. A similar thing happened with origami. And then, he asked me out, and we started focusing on the important things that were bringing us together.

Like bacon. (Well, it was another “you like/I like… MARRIAGE!” moment, at any rate.)

Suffice it to say, that has sort of become one of the taglines of our relationship. It mostly pertains to food (the song “Do You Like Waffles?” has been ruined forever), but it does extend into other arenas, as well. In a way, our silliness, itself, is a common interest, or rather, a common trait. We can be serious when we need to be, and we are, but it’s fun to imitate red pandas, and coo over bunnies, and make horrible puns. It’s fun to insist “because I’m a big, important computer scientist and I say so” when the playful argument at hand has absolutely nothing to do with computer science. It’s fun to be stunned into fits of laughter because I know my boyfriend is being ridiculous and I can’t think of anything else to say because I don’t understand what’s going on.

It’s not the only thing that keeps us together—not by a long shot—but when I think about it, it’s actually pretty important. Not only does it keep us happy, but it shows that we understand each other most of the time, and even when we don’t, it shows that we accept each other for who we are. That’s a pretty big thing, and it’s not always easy to do.

I won’t say that we have this whole relationship thing worked out. It’s a work in progress, and I suspect that in any relationship, it will always be to some degree. There’s always something that has yet to come to the surface. There’s always one more compromise to make. (He’s a night owl, I’m an early bird. He’s an introvert, I’m… an interesting case. He likes peas but not peppers, I like peppers but not peas.) But even then, it’s looking at what unites us, as opposed to what divides us. Call me crazy, but I think the world would be a better place if we all thought a little more like that.