Yes, that piece of paper matters

In less than a week, my first born son is getting married.  For most parents, this is an exciting day.  I am no different.

My son and his partner have been together for a number of years and I adore her.  They have a beautiful little girl and a great relationship that many could only hope for.  There is no doubt in my mind that they belong together.  They truly have each other’s back.

When my son told me they were getting married, like any good Mom, I pulled him aside and asked him if he was sure about this.  Not because I had any doubts but because this is my job.  He told me “Mom, I have no doubt that she is the one.”  Knowing my son, I know how profound these words were coming from him.

A number of weeks ago, they asked me if I would speak at the wedding.  You would think, after over 40 speaking gigs in the last couple of years, that this would be a piece of cake.  Not so.  In all honesty, I don’t think I can do it.  As a matter of fact, I know I can’t.  My blubbering idiot hat is not one that I relish wearing, particularly not in public.

I have a unique bond with this kid.  I was only 21 when I had him and we grew up together.  For a number of years it was me and him against the world.  He is wicked smart, funnier than hell and can melt my heart no matter how angry I am.  His entrance in this world completely changed the path of my life.  I truly can’t imagine life without him and I will NEVER forget the overwhelming feeling of pure love that washed over me the first time he was put in my arms.  If only we could all feel that way every day.

The kid is great at managing his own life and doesn’t need a lot of guidance from Mom unless he wants it and this is how it should be.  We are close and we are friends.

I rarely pull the Mom card these days.  Today is one of those days.

I have learned a few things over the years, some of them the hard way.  Like anyone else If I had it to do over there are things that I would do differently.  I don’t believe in regrets because you can’t change yesterday but you can share your lessons and hope they help someone else.  Because of that, I am sharing this intensely personal message with anyone who cares to read it.

Dear Chris,

That piece of paper does make a difference.  In less than a week, you are giving your heart to one amazing young woman.  You are committing to her being your one and only forever.  This is truly a beautiful thing.

In our almost 29 years together, I have never sugar coated the real world and I am not going to start now.  It is a beautiful world but you have to be present and work at it to experience that beauty.  It is far easier to get caught up in day-to-day stresses and lose sight of what really matters.  I know this first hand.

So today, my son, a little Mom wisdom to take into your next chapter:

  1. She comes first. Before your family, friends, hobbies, toys or whatever.  This is your person and this is a two way street.  Don’t ever make her feel like she is “less than” anything else in your life.
  2. Marriage is hard. We all wish it could be romantic and sexy and fun all of the time.  The reality is that it is work to stay meaningful and like anything else in life will have peaks and valleys.  Never stop working at it.
  3. Love alone is not enough. Don’t lie.  Be trustworthy and be faithful.    Lack of trust will erode even the biggest love.  Do what you say you are going to do in all things.
  4. Don’t fight dirty. Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship.  The key is to work through these issues without residual damage.  Harsh words, even if forgiven, are never ever forgotten and are a cancer in a relationship.
  5. Don’t let it get stale. Any good woman (and Rachel is a good woman) doesn’t need expensive gifts or grand gestures.  Sometimes the grandest gestures are really the little things.  Don’t just get her flowers because it’s Valentines Day and Hallmark dictates that you should.  Get her flowers just because it’s Tuesday and you were thinking of her.  Send her a random text telling her you think she is amazing.  Tell her how hot she looks in those yoga pants even though it is 7am and her hair is sticking up.  Don’t ever let her forget how special she is to you or how much you love her.
  6. You don’t always get to have it your way and neither does she.  When you can’t get on the same page, find a place in the middle that you can both live with.  While neither one of you may come out of that completely happy, you will be able to move forward because you had a voice.  Always consider both sides.
  7. Communicate. Communicate! One of the biggest causes of conflict in marriage is lack of communication.  Resentments build, assumptions are made and all of a sudden the problem is insurmountable.  We all fall down sometimes and we all make mistakes.  Never stop talking.
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The job is always there.  Daily stress is always there.  There are always ups and downs.  It is all in how you deal with it.  In the big scheme of things, what is truly important are the two beautiful ladies in front of you.  Don’t ever lose sight of what really matters because those other things around you always work themselves out.
  9. Be the man that I raised you to be. I raised you to treat a woman as your equal, to be honest, kind, considerate, helpful and compassionate.  I raised you to be the rock for your family, protect them like no other and always put them first.  I am damned proud that you are living up to those expectations.  I wish there were more men like you on this planet.
  10. Love her and love her hard. You have made a choice.  She is the one.  You are putting a ring on it.  Make sure you show her your love EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  11. Don’t stop Growing. Life is a journey and there are lessons every day.  Every one of those lessons make you a better and stronger man.  Don’t miss the lessons.

If you want a woman and wife who will fiercely and unequivocally stand by your side always you will keep these things at the forefront of your daily life.  It is not enough that you are doing them now.  You have to do them always.  Both of you.

Kid, you are the reason that I believe in unconditional love.  I will never find the right words to tell you how much you mean to me or how proud I am.  Those feelings are too big for words.

So today, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart, I anticipate your special day with your lovely bride.  I wish you an amazing journey together full of all the amazing things that life has to offer.

Never, ever lose the love!

Love, Mom

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