Flowers are waking up down South. Like Springtime starting flags they wave in my favorite time of the year. Wedding season is just around the corner, y’all!
Every bride-to-be below the Mason-Dixon has just entered the most grueling sprint of her life. Unfathomable hours of prep lay ahead. But God willing, and the Creek don’t rise, it culminates in the most perfect day of her life.
My husband laughs, but for me, receiving our first “Save the Date” stirs the same emotions he feels when “Gooooooo Dawgs! Sic ‘Em!” screams out of Sanford Stadium for the first time each fall.
I love everything about weddings. The romance, the flowers, the food, the fun. It’s something most little girls dream of all their lives. And I, for one, feel blessed and lucky every time I’m invited to share the splendor.
Marriage is a monumental commitment, especially down South where a girl’s wedding and college funds are often started the same day. We love a good party. And out-doing the Joneses doesn’t come cheap.
We’re also a sentimental breed. We pass family traditions down like DNA. It’s just what we do. I once attended a noon wedding that started at 12:15. Heaven forbid. It eventually went off without a hitch and during the cocktail hour we all laughed to learn the delay was due to great-grandmama’s blue hanky being forgotten in the hotel room.
My husband and I both come from big southern broods. Bless our mamas – they were popping out babies for over ten years. Sadly, the ridiculously fertile family tradition didn’t pass down to us.
For years we struggled with infertility. Fighting that demoralizing battle led me to a nightly ritual I’ve come to cherish. Every night I pray for my babies. Before I ever held them in my arms, I prayed for them.
Now, with those old prayers doubly answered, I pray for the women they will become. I pray for the strength and knowledge needed to raise them right. It may sound strange to some, but I also pray for their future spouses. Because I just love LOVE.
As a romance novelist I study and write about it everyday. Bad love is addictive. Good love is hard to find. Vanilla love only lasts if it’s chocolate or wine. For my little girls, I want a lifetime of the good stuff. Which is why I pray for a spouse who will love them as selflessly as their father and I have. That’s a Herculean task.
It took five years of wedded bliss for our babies to arrive. Those were tough years The Mister and I might not have survived had our roots not run so deeply. Together, we fought hard for our girls. When we finally won it only seemed right to celebrate by starting a new family tradition.
Many of my friends received a “push prize” when their babes arrived, a tongue-in-cheek reward for the whole ‘Miracle of Life’ making experience. I’ve ogled jewels and cars and designer bags. I’ve envied bigger houses and exotic babymoons. But at the end of the day, it was all just…stuff. It didn’t carry much weight after the new wore off.
I needed something with a little more umph to celebrate the victory over my life’s largest battle.
What seemed perfectly spot-on is what The Mister and I call my “Baby Bands”.
For each child, I add a single band to the collection worn on my left hand. Nestled beside the diamonds that symbolize my commitment to her father, will be her own special ring representing my commitment to mother the heck out of her for as long as God lets me.
I rarely meet a diamond I don’t like. So it was odd to find myself staring into Tiffany’s spotless glass cases and have nothing strike my fancy. Maybe it’s that southern need for sentimentality or just me wanting to be different, but I felt my rings needed to be more.
When my patient, loving, and indulgent husband suggested a dash of color might be the perfect addition a light bulb turned on upstairs. I slid a sparkly band of diamonds and brilliant blue sapphires on my finger and all was right with the world.
Aside from being my eldest’s birthstone, the blue color also allows the ring to serve another purpose. A grander purpose, if you will, down the road.
Yes, my Baby Band is a gift. But it’s not truly mine. It’s just a loaner.
This ring will be worn everyday. As I watch her grow, I will clasp it tightly or twirl it around my finger and continue to pray for her and her future spouse.
When my prayers are answered, and she finds the person God put on this earth to love her into her golden years as selflessly as I have loved her beginnings, this ring will become a gift from us to her. A gift prayed over and cherished all the days of her life.
Years ago, I walked down the aisle with my great-grandmama’s sixpence in my shoe. Years from now, my girls will walk down the aisle wearing that same toe-pinching penny.
On that day, my Baby Band becomes her wedding band. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
A gift that honors the very best of old southern and new family traditions.