I first “met” Kelli when she commented on my blog back in 2008. That’s when she honestly shared her story here: she was the 39-year-old mother of two children (who are biracial like my daughter). She was happily married for 13 years, when, she says, “my husband relapsed into alcoholism very abruptly and left us in early 2006.”
Well, that sounded a bit familiar. Yet Kelli got back on her feet, worked hard, and parented like a super star. Fast forward a couple of years and “an old friend I used to work with stopped by to help me fix my computer. And… standing next to him in the kitchen, there were butterflies in my stomach.”
At first, Kelli was very cautious about introducing her friend, Mark, to her kids. But over time, she saw how incredibly patient and steady he was. “He was raised by a stepfather so he knows this relationship from different angles,” she says.
So, when Kelli and Mark got married in September — in Central Washington, in a meadow overlooking the North Cascade Mountain range — “we started off with a statement about this marriage being not just the joining of two people, but really the start of a family.”
Kelli’s children — who are five and nine — “walked me down the aisle and they were the only people to stand up with us.” Also, Mark spoke directly to her kids in his vows — “which I hadn’t known he was going to do, promising to love them, and care for them financially and emotionally, and raise them to the best of his ability into adulthood and for always.”
Today, Mark is the stay-at-home parent who brings the kids to school and picks them up. “Mark really chose them just like he chose me,” adds Kelli. “Step parenting is a thankless job, in some ways.”
That’s not to say that everything was sunshine from Day One. When Kelli first told her daughter about getting married, “she initially reacted with shock and upset. I just told her it’s OK to have very mixed feelings. She, like her Mom, struggles with transition.”
While their ceremony — which they prepared themselves, with amazing creativity — was very thoughtful, it wasn’t all serious. We did ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ in the moment of the vows to determine who goes first, and I highly recommend this method.”
They also read their vows from handmade books — which Kelli found on Etsy.com — and “we can take them out and read them again, on special evenings or anniversaries. And we have!”
I love the idea of writing down your vows in a book, so you can look back and read them again (or, have them read to you!)… Don’t you?
Photos by Joshua Trupin
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