An Engaged Daughter’s Perspective

This morning, we had a post from Erika’s mother Nena about getting engaged just before her daughter. Now we have a post from Erika about grappling with her mom’s remarriage and learning to find joy in it. But even more than that, Erika got married this weekend. (And Nena’s one year anniversary is next weekend, congratulations ladies!) She talks about how she found something to look up to in her mom’s new marriage, and how grateful she is for that.

Two Christmases ago, I received a phone call as my then boyfriend (now fiancé!) and I were leaving his parents\’ house to go to mine for Christmas Eve dinner. On the phone was my mom’s boyfriend, calling to ask for permission to propose to my momma. Of course I said yes! They had been dating for four years at the time, it was the day before Christmas, he made my mom and my family incredibly happy, I liked his kids (whom I had only met a few times), and…I liked him. So with eager anticipation, we waltzed down to my mom’s house and waited for it to occur.

On Christmas morning, while he had planted himself perfectly in front of the tree to dole out presents to everyone, we all kept our eyes on a little black box hidden halfway down the tree in the branches. One hour into opening presents, already down on his knees, he took out the box, and asked my mom to marry him. She was so cute—she looked at all of us and said, “Are you ok with this?”  We replied, “Yes, yes, of course we are, he already asked us.”  And then we popped champagne as she in turn said yes!

Now, that was the fairytale part—the four years leading up to it weren’t so joyful for me.

Still reeling from my parents ending their twenty-two year marriage, my mom began dating a year after the divorce. And while she had been lonely for a long time and was finally ready to begin dating, I wasn’t ready for it and I certainly wasn’t ready to hear about. It was weird, it was strange, and I felt this little brat of a child bubble up inside of me, semi-determined to shed my unhappiness onto my mother. And how incredibly unfair of me it was. I was terrified. I remember bringing three friends with me to meet him for the first time because I couldn’t do it alone. I was still sorting out my relationship with my own father (it’s better now) and my heart had no idea how to compute what was happening. I wasn’t unpleasant around them all the time, but I sure doled out my share of unhappiness, nastiness, and an e-mail that should have never been sent.

But after attending their wedding last Thanksgiving weekend on a beautiful snowy day in Yosemite, with only our immediate families in attendance, I realized that being one big happy family is so much better than not having him in our lives. So in a way this post is an apology to my mother for being a total sh** at times over the past four years. (I think she even called me that once, and if she didn’t, she should have.) But it’s also a thank you—for her patience in letting my brain and heart sort it all out, for allowing me the time to talk with her about it even when she was sick of it, and for letting me form my own relationship with him in my own time.

As I am currently three days away from my own marriage, I am proud of our family and I’m thrilled to be marrying my man. My mother and her husband are one of those couples that is a great role model for people just starting their married lives—the way they talk to each other, respect each other, socialize, yet have their own interests. They also put their relationship and marriage first and check in regularly with each other. A lot of these qualities were ones that my man and I already had in our relationship before we got to know theirs, but it’s inspiring to be around two people in a healthy marriage. Especially when that marriage happened much later in life and we’re just beginning our journey.

Mom, I love you, and I love him for you, and for our family, and the fact that it gives all of us hope that love is always out there, no matter what you’ve been through or how old you are. The two of you are a marvelous couple and my man and I just love hanging out with you. Thank you for bringing him into our lives because he has added so much love, laughter and richness, something I certainly didn’t assume would happen. We are all better for it, and I’m glad you both have someone to grow old with. I love you.

Photos by: Erika’s Personal Collection

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  • MEI

    Family week is on fire! Such beautiful posts today, Erika & Nena.

  • carrie

    Love this post too! You ladies have me smiling today, and maybe a little teary eyed. Congrats to all of you and your new families!

  • I love that we get to hear both parts of this story! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Marina

    Awwwwwwww, making me teary. So wonderful.

  • mimi

    Thanks for this. I see myself in your post, except my resentment and “little brat of a child” was directed towards my younger siblings who were all getting engaged while I was feeling destined to be the spinster oldest sister. Fast forward a couple years and I’m now happily living with my boyfriend, who I met just a few weeks after the last sibling engagement. Even though I’m the oldest, I’m learning from their experiences. Congratulations to your family!

  • It is so lovely that you have a role model in your mother’s second marriage. So often us kids of divorce are turned off of marriage; between grandparents and parents for my husband and I we count 6 divorces, so we had a hard time feeling secure in our own choice to get married. Your last paragraph is so sweet.

  • It’s so weird when your parent starts dating. Or, uh, drunken “it’s complated” in my mother’s case. I think for me it’s easier because my dad is dead and my mom is young enough that it only makes sense that she try to find a new happiness. But it’s really really weird.

    • It is totally weird. I feel you on this Morgan. But the weird thing is my mom didn’t even date, or at least that I know about ;). Her man was the first and only person she ever introduced us to and that was hard enough.

  • This makes me so happy. I can’t quite put my finger on why but I am sitting at my desk and grinning like an idiot.

  • Liz

    What absolutely lovely stories, from both sides. Thank you so much for sharing. Sniff.

    • Thank you thank you all of you for the love. I’m so glad that we made some of you smile and cry. Thanks for reading our story!

  • I loved this post and reading through the two perspectives was really great. My dad and stepmom married on thanksgiving weekend in 2004 after nine years of being together. I was thankful that by the time they made things official all of the terrible teenage reaction years were behind us and I could just celebrate them. There are still moments though, even at 31, that I feel myself turning into that 16 year old when I deal with my stepmom, but I think I’ve made peace with those moments and allow them in every once and a while. This is a perfect timing post as well because my mom will be bringing her new boyfriend to thanksgiving at my grandmother’s tomorrow and I need to be reminded to act like a grownup! Congratulations on your marriage!

    • I know what you mean! With my dad’s relationship after my parents’ divorce it was really, really hard because it was the relationship that ended my parents’ marriage. Talk about awkward! It was years before I could look my (now) stepmom in the eye and actually smile. Privately my dad and she called me and my sister “The Sullen Sisters” because of our behavior around her. We didn’t say rude things, maybe because we weren’t nasty teenagers by this point, but we definitely made it clear how we felt about her.

      Six years later, and two after my mom’s remarriage, which was much less hard to handle, I LOVE my stepmom and can see how much better this relationship is than my parents’ had been. Their marriage, and my mom’s marriage made it easier for me to contemplate my own. My sisters and I have a great time with her and my dad, and I couldn’t be happier with my extended family. But it took a loooong time to get here.

      • Huge kudos to you Meredyth for your changed perspective. That sounds like an incredibly hard situation so I’m impressed on how you feel now. I have a good friend who father got married to the woman he cheated on her mother with. And my friend has never once had a bitter note in her voice when talking about it. Its amazing and she’s a total inspiration.

        And congrats to both of your parents!

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  • Nelson Moss

    I am looking for help (on a lot of things) but specifically: my ONLY daughter is getting married for the firs and hopefully only time at the age of 34. Her fiance asked me for her hand in marriage in Decemebr 2011 and the wedding is in October 2012. My daughters Mother (Marcie) and I have been divorced for over 20 years and both remarried but spent some of the most memorable days, at least of my life, during the last 6 months of her life; she passed away in May of 2011.

    We are planning a spendid wedding and at this point all I have asked is that my daughter hire a wedding planner as she does not live in my city or one in which she has relatives but went to school and lives and will be wed in her “new city”,

    She did not plan to have engagement announcements in the newspaper but I though we should in my and my first wife’s home town where we grew up, went to schools, college, married, and first lived. In addition, I thought my current hometwon and her Mother’s before she died as well as my daughters as she has spent most of her adult life there.

    I have spoken to my daughter about this and she seems excited that “Daddy” took the initiative and is interested. I have not spoken to the wedding planner yet but will do so if that is the proper thing to do. I am wondering about the proper etiquette for the announcement – if it matters, my current wife and my deceased wife’s husband don’t know each other and neither one is liked by my deceased wife’s family but they get along fine with me.

    GOSH, How did life get so complicated ?