When I was growing up we had a dog named Susie.
This is me & Susie at some point during the Reagan years, when everything was great except the quality of photographs:
When I was, oh, maybe five or six years old, Susie mysteriously disappeared for a bit. She was eventually discovered inside an unoccupied home on our street (she wasn't in there long, really . . . although I can't give you an accurate time estimate as this entire incident is heavily clouded by my six-year-old mind).
Upon Susie's safe return, my sister & I, sleuths that we were with our combined ten years of street smarts, immediately began compiling a list of names of those who had hearts so dark that they'd lock a small dog in an unoccupied house (which for some reason was open to the general public? It was 1985; times were different, I guess). At the top of our suspect list was the name of a young girl who lived on our street. I'd not had much direct contact with her, but I'd seen her cruising on her banana seat bike, &, I don't know, she'd looked at me the wrong way one day, & so I became convinced she was responsible for the time our dog Susie had spent in exile.
A few years ago, I married the prime suspect's brother, & Saturday, I had a front row seat as she took her own marriage vows. I have a few thoughts to share, & then, in honor of my sister-in-law, Deni, who reads the blog in hopes of seeing countless pictures of her niece & nephew, I will share with you countless pictures, the natural result of
a family wedding Henry donning a tux for the first time.
As an aside, I'll tell you that this heavy-on-the-pictures post couldn't have come at a more opportune time, for I may be done with words. Last week's post, if you recall, was inspired by a quote I pulled from Twitter, a quote by a man named Don Willett who sits on the Texas Supreme Court. When I posted a link to the blog on Twitter, I tagged him (as you can see in the photo below), & then, AND THEN, on Wednesday evening of last week I was notified that Justice Willett had not only retweeted the blog, he'd quoted me from the blog in the retweet (again, as you can see in the photo below . . . maybe, if it's not too small).
So I figure I am done. I mean where do I go from here? What do I say? Do I start alerting @HillaryClinton or @WhiteHouse hoping for a response?
I had a little internal meltdown for a bit Wednesday night, & we might talk more about that later but there is no room to waste anymore words on this matter in this post, because the pictures, they abound.
When I was a bride some five, almost six, years ago, I was stressed at times (admittedly mainly over the fact that I cannot control the weather). What I discovered over the last few days is that perhaps more stressful than your own wedding is a wedding in which your two children are to be participants. There were details to attend to & hair to be fixed & bowties to be straightened, but in the back of my mind was the constant refrain, What if they do something completely ridiculous? I mean yes, that question is always in the back of a mother's mind, but the panic level is amplified when a tuxedo has been purchased & the Lord & sacred marriage vows are involved; the significance of the moment is considerably weightier than the grocery aisle, no-we-don't-eat-poptarts, meltdown.
Wedding prep began early Friday morning (okay, it was about eleven-ish) with their luxurious bubble bath.
Some scenes from Friday evening's rehearsal:
Henry rehearsing being clueless about what's going on while simultaneously looking dapper & adorable . . . which he pulled off without a hitch during the wedding on Saturday.
The 'dinner' part of the rehearsal dinner took place outdoors on the banks of the Ouachita River. I am usually not a fan of eating outdoors. There's just too many variables in play when I'm trying to feed my kids without throwing in additional factors like wind, heat, rain, bugs, etc. Also, I am in general sometimes a fussy, particular person . . . but hey, at least I'm self-aware.
Despite my misgivings (which, I know, didn't matter at all since it wasn't my rehearsal dinner), it was pleasant. It was not too hot, not too cold while we feasted on a buffet of seafood. Best of all, Reagan ate catfish & maybe a few bites of asparagus, so I didn't even have to check her number & calculate insulin.
Trey holding his smile hoping Henry might glance my way:
Annnnd still no glance from Henry:
Reagan wanted to take a picture . . . & I am just going to go ahead & post this one of me I didn't realize she was taking because where I'm concerned, picture taking was all downhill from here Friday night:
This one makes the cut only because Reagan looks precious:
And it began to rain:
Henry photobombing the groomsmen's attempts at a group shot:
The wedding day finally arrived. I have to tell you when I woke Saturday morning, there were a few specific things on my mind (aside from COFFEE, of course, which is foremost on my mind each day when consciousness breaks). Actually, coffee was doubly on my mind Saturday morning, because in addition to wanting my first cup of the day, I was (1) excited about the wedding cake, (2) wondering if there'd be coffee at the reception, & (3) eager to get Henry in his tux.
A month or so ago my in-laws took Henry for his fitting & teased me with these pictures:
I know, I know. He's too much. I knew once the whole outfit was on him, bowtie & all, I'd just melt into the floor . . . but I waited as long as possible to dress him Saturday morning for two reasons: (1) he's two, so I mean, duh, but also, (2) once Henry's dressed, he knows he's headed somewhere & he wants to be there yesterday.
His ritual whine at the door once he's dressed:
I didn't attempt to do much to Reagan's hair at the house in hopes that this would happen once we arrived at the church:
Fixing hair is not really my thing. I mean after three decades of trial & error (& the invention of the flat iron) I've basically figured out how to tame mine most days of the week, but between my inability to do other people's hair & the bit of sass Reagan has developed lately, I was thrilled someone else took the reins & went after Reagan with a big bottle of Sexy Hair hairspray.
Once everyone was dressed & a few pictures were snapped (by the professional, not me), the kids were free to roam for a bit:
A little concert on stage:
Some shoe-tying lessons with Granddaddy . . . p.s., shoe manufactures: any shoe made to fit a two-year-old who's going to be participating in a wedding needs to involve velcro, not laces.
Still working on the laces:
(I should mention the wedding start time was two in the afternoon, also known as NAP TIME):
Whether in his pajamas or a tux, he will locate & eat the nearest banana:
A little fun in front of the stained glass:
This is one my sister took of me & Trey right before he escorted me to my seat right down in front where I was ideally situated to grab & subdue my children after they romped down the aisle.
So, for those who've been wondering, this is the dress I found in Dallas a few weeks ago . . . one of the two I found actually, but this is the one I decided to wear to the wedding. I wanted a dress I felt good about since I anticipated having to stand & wrestle Henry in front of the wedding guests. You want to be your best self when you manhandle your toddler in front of beloved friends & family.
Another my sister took as Trey attempted to persuade Henry to walk gracefully down the aisle while holding a tiny satin pillow.
I couldn't see the kids all that well from where I was, but I was told by countless people that Reagan did a superb job daintily scattering flower petals. Henry's walk down the aisle was not a solo one; Trey accompanied him, & Trey carried the tiny satin pillow.
If you've been wondering, I will tell you that there was indeed coffee at the reception:
After shameful amounts of beef, cake, & coffee were consumed by yours truly, I remembered I hadn't had anyone take a pic of the four of us . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .
The pictures are bad, bad, but they did send me into a fit of laugher as I scrolled through them on the ride home & saw my dad, who claims he, "didn't know we were taking pictures." And you know, apparently we didn't know either.
Henry says, "Give it up, Mom."
And so we did.
And then he did.
Back on off, ladies. Just back on off.
The family merriment didn't end with the wedding. I don't know if you noticed since no one on Facebook was posting much about it, but yesterday was Mother's Day. Despite wanting desperately to cling to my covers yesterday morning, I rose early & performed the whole hurried Sunday morning, eat, eat, eat your breakfast, brush, brush, brush your teeth, routine. Having driven over for Deni's wedding, Jessica & Maisie were conveniently here for Mother's Day, & they joined us for church & a late lunch.
When I say late, I mean we had a one o'clock reservation, so we thought it'd be a great idea to hang out at my dad & Trey's office for an hour after church.
Papa showed Henry how his notary stamp works (then, when Papa got up, Henry notarized Papa's chair).
The kids ran up & down the halls, no doubt delighting the young attorney who'd foolishly thought he might get a little work done on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
We moved the party into the conference room . . .
. . . where the kids refused to pose for pictures & we began taking selfies.
We did finally eat lunch, & not a moment too soon. Thankfully lunch was buffet-style, so once we were seated, we got some food in the babes' tummies post haste.
They were very still while eating their ice cream, so I took a few more pics:
Snogging before saying our goodbyes:
If the onslaught of photos has worn you down, well, dressing myself & the kids for them & taking them was no picnic either. This past weekend I showered (& shaved!) & put on all my make-up three days in a row. The fact that I spent most of the weekend wearing fancy clothes & a lot of mascara testifies to my dedication to being present for calendared family together time, because, p.s., my final grades are due today by noon, so it's not like I would've been watching the Gilmore girls all weekend had I been in my pajamas rather than shoes that give my calves an incredible workout.
Did you think I forgot about Susie? When I was in high school, Susie died, & with her she took the truth about who barricaded her inside the abandoned house. A few years after Susie's death, a friend of my sister's (who shall remain nameless) made a confession to Jessica regarding the unfortunate dog-in-abandoned-house incident, & finally, after years of living under a cloud of suspicion, Deni's good name was restored.
Perhaps not coincidentally, it wasn't so long after the aforementioned confession that cleared Deni that Trey & I began dating. Years later, when Trey & I married, Deni stood beside me, & Saturday, I found myself tearing up watching my kids, her niece & nephew, dawdle down the aisle before she made her grand entrance, which reinvigorated the tears I'd just managed to quash.
At the reception Saturday, I finally relaxed with cake & coffee (& beef & some cookies & lemon squares). I sat & I watched a roomful of people I've known for decades mill about, talking & laughing & hugging, & it occurred to me that what we'd all done, what we were doing, was more than dressing up in fancy clothes & eating fantastic cake.
A few weeks ago I was having a bad day & I went on a little tear on Facebook. I was going to summarize it for you, but I think I'll just quote myself because, you know, summarizing isn't my strong suit:
My head & my heart are in a dark place this afternoon, & nothing, not my hot coffee or the book I'm reading or the Gilmore girls, is distilling the fog. The obvious solution to this angst is to cut open a vein & just bleed all over my Facebook page, which, believe it or not, is something I usually resist doing (preferring to deal with my anger via humorous memes).
So here goes. If I were Satan, & I thought strategically about the most effective way to undermine a nation that was founded on, & has for two hundred years stood on, the principle of religious freedom, do you know what I would do? I would start small, at the bottom (sometimes referred to as the foundation), & go after the family, which is the most basic unit of civilization, & without which societies crumble.
I believe that today, Satan is smiling. The fruits of his labor appear to be ripening from sea to shining sea.
Ronald Reagan once said that, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." I repeat: ". . . at the dinner table," not at the ballot box or on Facebook or Twitter or in the courtroom or on the street. Christians, if you are, like me, looking at your kids today & worrying yourself silly over their future, borrow a strategy from Satan &, rather than trying to change the world, start small. Start at your dinner table.
No political party can or should do the restorative work that is currently needed. Don't tell your kids how to do it God's way; show them, & in so doing, show the world. Convince the world not with your words, but with the fruits of your labor.
Christians, get your act & your marriages together. Churches, don't gloss over the verses that cover divorce & remarriage. God has a lot to say about marriage, & a great many of His directives are applicable to heterosexuals, who, if you haven't noticed, aren't knocking it out of the park when it comes to marriage & family. Do you know what those children on the streets in Baltimore need, second only to their Heavenly Father? They need an earthly father, a family. The black family survived slavery in America intact, & yet has not withstood the onslaught of government checks that give daddy a pass.
It's been a slow trickle, a gradual erosion of the fundamental truths that (1) all life is precious, (2) sex (which is known to produce children) before (& outside of) marriage is forbidden by God for important reasons, not because He is arbitrarily cruel, (3) marriage is for life, & (4) without intact, functional families, civilizations crumble, literally, in some cases, brick & mortar are reduced to ash. You can't fix it from the top down; it must be built the same way it's being destroyed, from the bottom up. The government will be no help; political parties will be no help. No government check or social program or or jobs initiative can do what needs to be done by mom & dad at the dinner table.
Every time a family gathers to eat, to laugh, to pray, to witness vows, to welcome a baby, to celebrate Mothers, to bury a loved one, I know without a doubt that Satan is furious. When we persevere, we defy his persistence in achieving what I am certain is one of his top priorities, undermining the family unit.
George Bernard Shaw once said, "A happy family is but an earlier Heaven." I never imagined the mean girl down the street for whom I harbored (misplaced) ill will for years, & now her husband, would be a part of my little prelude to Heaven, but, in the wise words of Annelle Dupuy, "the Lord works in mysterious ways." Welcome to our family, Dow; we are every bit as awesome as we appear.
There are far more words in this post than I intended. I hope you'll forgive me for them & accept my ridiculous family photos as a token of my remorse. I'll return, the Lord willing, next week & it will officially be summer for me, after I turn in my final grades today (along with the big stack of signed & dated paperwork documenting everything I did & said this past semester). We'll chat about the usual - what I'm reading, what I want to read, who's getting on my nerves, & what problems are plaguing the Gilmore girls. Until then, I pray you cherish your family & are able to capture the joy they bring you in photos that are immeasurably better than ours.