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Dad + Mom

Today, I celebrate the day that my parents got married.

Marriage isn’t always easy. They’ve both shared that with me on separate occasions as we’ve talked about my future, and I’ve witnessed it in their frustrations, arguments, and moments of annoyed silence. 

So today, I want to give them a tribute that talks about real marriage- their marriage. I want to be honest for a minute about what marriage is and congratulate them on a job well done.

Why the congratulations? Because my dad has told the same jokes for my entire life, sometimes changing a word here or there for effect, and my mom has patiently listened to them. And because my mom has this weird way of ordering food, and my dad sits there and lets her ask them to sautee the vegetables BEFORE they put it into the omelet for the 89th time.

Why the congratulations? Because my dad was injured in a routine fire with the Detroit Fire Department and forced into early retirement, having to take odd jobs here and there to keep our family above water, and my mom never complained about not being able to buy the newest and cutest things for herself. And because my mom had lung surgery when I was a little girl, and my dad spent months making us lunches and cutting off sandwich crusts and organizing sleepovers.

Why the congratulations? Because my mom took a babysitting job and my dad worked extra hours to take us to Disney World. Because we were poor, but we never knew that we were poor, because my parents made everything special. We never knew that the cheese in our fridge was government cheese- we just knew that it made the best grilled cheese sandwiches, and all of the neighborhood kids would come over to eat them on summer afternoons.

Why the congratulations?  Because you guys made it through huge fights that would have ended the normal couple. You worked through sickness and low-funds and family drama and all of the til-death-do-us-part moments that everybody seems to forget about.

Congratulations because you guys made every birthday, every Christmas, every valentine’s day special. Congratulations for the bedtime stories and kissed knees and late night snacks and warm hugs.

Congratulations because you have 3 daughters who are strong and confident and in healthy, loving relationships- both romantic and not romantic- because they had a strong, confident and healthy relationship to pattern it after. Congratulations because you have 7 grandchildren who come to your home for advice, shelter, to laugh, take walks, water plants, color, cry, take naps in grandma’s bed, or eat pancakes.

Congratulations because during the struggle and arguments and how-are-we-going-to-pay-for-this moments, you built a home where we felt safe. Where we could be ourselves. Where we could thrive.

That’s what you did. That’s what your love did. We’re all just products of it- and not even just us- but the countless others who call you mom, dad, or friend. We are the result of you sticking it out and making it work, even when it seemed to be unworkable.

On the days when you wanted to quit- and I’m sure there were many- you didn’t. Maybe it was for us, maybe it was for you, or maybe it was because you’re both somehow singlehandedly the most stubborn people that I know. But whatever the reason, everyone around you was quitting, and you refused. That wasn’t an option.

There were days when you loved each other, but didn’t like each other, and you never made that our problem. We never saw the raging fights or frustrated thoughts. You weren’t fake, that’s not it at all. You just protected us from things that weren’t meant for us. We knew that you fought, but we weren’t in the fight. Thank you for that. Thank you for letting us be kids.

So today, I say congratulations. You guys weren’t perfect. But you taught me how to love, and you taught me how to keep loving. And one day, some man will benefit from the way that you’ve shown me what love is. And all of those til-death-do-us-parts will meet their match, once again. I’ll be able to laugh at the “lacks” because I saw you guys do it. And I’ll be able to give my kids what you gave me: hope.

I’ve seen lots of loves fade. I’ve seen lots of couples give up.

But not you.

Congratulations on your anniversary, dad and mom.

I love you guys. So much.

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