Oh, Baby!

I mentioned recently that I’ve been making an effort to journal things for which I’m grateful. Sometimes I have to dig really deep, especially considering the events of the past year and now those of the past week. Sometimes, finding a reason to be grateful is so easy! Take for example, that day recently when my oldest boy, Jaeger stopped over with his girlfriend, Camping Girl. Considering how little I’ve written here over the past couple of years, I may not have mentioned the lovely Camping Girl before. She is lovely. He loves her. She loves him. And we adore her. For quite some time, it’s been so easy for us to see they are right for each other.

Jaeger has made some remarks recently that have led us to believe a marriage proposal was in the works. Jack and I have talked about it periodically, wondering when we might finally hear some news of wedding bells. One Sunday, not long before Christmas, Jaeger and C.G. let us know they’d be stopping by that afternoon. I invited them to stay for dinner and when they arrived, homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs were cooking on the stove. We were all gathered around the island in the kitchen, chatting and waiting for the pasta to finish cooking when Jaeger whipped something white out of his back pocket. The small white thing unfurled before my eyes and I realized an announcement was being made! Though it wasn’t the announcement we’d been expecting.

We’re going to be grandparents!

It wasn’t the wedding announcement we’d been expecting, but instead, a BABY announcement! We are going to be grandparents! I can’t remember exactly how I reacted, but I remember bolting over to the other side of the island to throw my arms around both Jaeger and C.G. I cried. I exclaimed that I was so excited. I must have exclaimed it several times because Jaeger finally laughed and said, “Are you so excited, Mom?”

I am going to be a GRANDMOTHER! I am so ready for this! I am going to spoil this kid rotten! Well, maybe not rotten but there will definitely be some spoiling going on. I may have already bought a baby toy.

A few people have asked me what I’ll be called when the baby arrives. Will I be “Nanna” like my mom was? That would be really cool, but I’m thinking that this may not be a decision I’ll make myself. When my parents’ first grandchild, my niece came along, my siblings and I began to refer to my parents as Grandma and Grandpa – until my niece started talking. And she called them Nanna and Boppa. I remember Jack saying, “I’m not referring to your dad as Boppa! It’s embarrassing.” But it stuck. My dad was Boppa and he was darn proud of it.

I have a friend who is Nonna to her grandkids. Another friend’s kids call her dad, Bumpa. Heck, my own nephew couldn’t pronounce my name when he was young, and although he is now in his twenties, he and his siblings still call me Dewey. So I think I’ll be open to whatever this little one wants to call me. But in case I’m asked to choose, I’m open to suggestions if you’ve got ’em!

And P.S. A proposal was actually in the works. To make a long story short, the news of the baby beat Jaeger to the punch. Like I said, we’re thrilled. Jaeger says they’ll work on planning a wedding after they settle in with the baby, who is scheduled to arrive in late July. Lots of good stuff to look forward to around here!

They Said I Do!

Our baby girl is married!

Chesney was a gorgeous bride, absolutely radiant. Farm Boy was so handsome, literally beaming every time he looked at his bride. I felt as if I might burst with the joy I felt for my daughter and new son-in-law.

Also, can I just say? My family cleans up nice!

Oh, how I prayed about this day, and not just the usual prayers for a young couple committing their lives to one another. I stacked prayers on top of prayers because while planning a wedding can be stressful during the best of times, no one could have imagined a year ago when they were engaged, what it would mean to do so during a pandemic.

Last spring after having already set the date, the venue informed us that due to the pandemic it now had to operate at a lower capacity. Lucky for us it’s a large venue and our guest list fell comfortably below those restrictions. Many guests declined their invitations from the start, but we were happily surprised that most others were still willing to attend. We worked with the staff at the venue to plan extra spacing between tables, making use of both the upper and main levels. We planned to seat guests either by household, or small numbers of those in the same bubble. The invitations stated that everyone should plan to wear a mask and we bought extras just in case, along with a multitude of hand-sanitizer.

Their wedding day would surely look different than what they’d dreamed, but Chesney and Farm Boy handled themselves with immense grace and patience (with just a few tears shed) along the way.

But as the November wedding date loomed closer, the impact of COVID-19 was rapidly increasing in our state. Three days before the wedding, our governor was to announce new restrictions. I sat on the edge of my seat the afternoon of the press conference, waiting to hear whether this would require us to cancel with only three days to go, or if we could somehow go forward. All along the way, the venue held us to the scheduled date, because as they explained, they were still allowed to be open. And we truly sympathized when the owner explained that if they rescheduled or refunded everyone who asked, they would go out of business. Long ago I told my daughter that while we’d already invested significantly in this wedding, money isn’t everything. If they wanted to cancel, we’d figure it out. Jack and I maintained this stance even now, but Chesney and Farm Boy decided to just roll with things as best they could.

As it turned out, there would be new restrictions for weddings and receptions, but not until just after our event. Still, I didn’t feel good about things. The governor had simply drawn a line in the sand. On the date of this wedding, we could gather a couple hundred people together in an enclosed space. Just a short time later it would no longer be allowed. I could not stop thinking about how the virus didn’t care about dates. People would still be at risk at this wedding. And in the days just ahead, upwards of forty guests called to tell us they weren’t coming. Some had already been personally impacted by the virus, others simply didn’t feel safe coming. At this point, I’d have been happy if our immediate families could just be there, but a good number of guests weren’t backing out. I felt like we were on a freight train racing out of control.

I’ve always been champion worrier, but now I was experiencing true and severe anxiety. That evening after the governor’s announcement, my brain kept reminding me we were being selfish to forge ahead. The remaining hours of that day dragged on for me and I lost the ability to focus on anything else. I began to feel a burning sensation in my chest which traveled up my throat and into my mouth. I was convinced I had the virus and I can’t describe the devastation I felt at the thought of missing my daughter’s wedding day. I frantically searched online for locations where I could be tested, but without displaying any of the typical symptoms, I couldn’t get a test before the wedding day. I kept all of this to myself until I burst out crying, telling Jack my worst fears.

Jack assured me I didn’t have the virus, but I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t sleep that night and woke up in the morning with the burning feeling still raging in my chest. Then I had a revelation … and took something to ease the effects of heartburn. Voilà! I quickly felt so much better. I had literally worried myself sick.

I felt a bit less anxious the day before, and on the day of the wedding I forced myself to pack my anxieties away in a dark corner of my brain. While my fears never truly went away, I’m happy to say that I was able to rejoice in and fully celebrate my daughter’s wedding day.

In the end, the number of guests who attended was just over a hundred, about half of the number we’d invited. People were really good about keeping masks on. We had to forgo hugging and handshakes, which was hard for a hugger like me. Some people left right after the ceremony, and some as soon as they’d finished dinner. Some of us still danced and it was FUN! But the whole thing wound down by around ten o’clock. Those who stuck it out told us how much fun it was, how good the food was, how happy they were to help us celebrate this amazing event.

Most importantly, my prayers were answered ten-fold. In spite of it all, my daughter got to marry the love of her life. The newlyweds were truly happy. I’ve said something to Chesney and Farm Boy many times throughout this year, and in my toast at the wedding reception, I said it again. If Friday the thirteenth is suspicious during a normal year, in a year like 2020 when we celebrated their wedding day, it can only be a magical day filled with blessings for the years ahead.

A Wedding Will Go On

It was just about this time last year that my baby girl got engaged.

Early this year, I enjoyed spending a day with the Chesney and Farm Boy, touring potential wedding venues. After seeing several very different options, they picked a beautiful barn venue, (so fitting,) and set the date for November 13th, 2020.

Much excitement and anticipation followed as we looked forward to the day that was sure to arrive before we could blink. And then?

We found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic.

Not surprisingly, this has made wedding planning a bit of a challenge. Being the mother of the bride, I’ve been heavily involved in the planning of this wedding. Being the parents of the bride, Jack and I also have a financial investment in the big day. We’ve all spent much of this year increasingly worrying and discussing how, or whether to proceed. We considered at-risk family members and friends who wouldn’t be able to attend plus the fact that more than the typical number of guests might decline an invitation. After much thought, the kids told us they had decided it would be best to postpone the wedding to a later date.

Funny thing. It wasn’t quite so simple. As it turned out, the venue wouldn’t allow them to reschedule. And because of the payment requirements, we had already paid in full. So we could cancel, but we wouldn’t get our money back.

That all sounds so bad, I know. Believe me, my initial reaction was, “Oh yeah? I work for two lawyers! So think again!”

But in the long run, the kids and I had a phone conversation with the venue owner. It was honest and it was good. The owner explained that with a slowdown in new business due to COVID-19, and if they allowed everyone who had already booked a date to reschedule, they simply couldn’t accommodate all of the changes and were in danger of going out of business. I couldn’t help but sympathize with her position. She explained that under our governor’s requirements, the venue is allowed to be open. They are following the requirements in regards to social distancing and masks. And since it is such a large space, one that our guest list won’t come close to filling up, we will easily be able to create the necessary distancing between guests. And in the end, the owner offered to allow us to reschedule (only) between January and March if we really felt we couldn’t stick with the November date. She asked us to talk it over and let her know, but that she would hold the initial date until she heard back from us.

The kids discussed it with us and with Farm Boy’s parents. We told them that if they wanted to cancel, we would fully support them. (Though if they did cancel, we would lose a chunk of change that we might not be able to offer again towards a future wedding.) Farm Boy’s parents were reluctant about holding the wedding during a pandemic, but upon hearing the options, told the kids that they would be in attendance if the wedding went on as originally planned.

Finally, realizing that not much is likely to change in regards to the pandemic between November 2020 and March 2021, and not wanting to put their lives on hold for another year or more, the kids decided to make the best of the situation and keep the original date. And I knew exactly why my daughter wants to spend the rest of her life with Farm Boy when he said, “I am going to be there on November 13th, and I am going to marry you, whether or not anyone else shows up.”

And so the wedding shall go on. The kids have resigned themselves to the fact that their special day won’t look exactly as they had dreamed it would. Everything requires some extra thought, from the catering, to how to serve dessert. We have purchased disposable masks and hand sanitizers in bulk. Making a seating plan will require some extra thought. But we are doing this. Will it be different? Definitely. Will it be something people will remember? I’m quite sure. While I’m saddened by the ones who won’t be able to join us, I’m actually quite surprised at the number of people who have told us they are excited and planning to be there.

In the end, all that matters is that my daughter and my future son-in-law are able to commit their lives to one another, and that they are happy.

And yes, we are well aware that November 13th, 2020 is Friday the Thirteenth. For a bride who was born on the thirteenth of April, and who wore the number thirteen proudly on her sports jerseys, there are no suspicions of bad luck. Besides, if Friday the Thirteenth is suspect during a normal year, I’m banking it holds some kind of magic during this crazy year.