A New Name

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"A New Name" by Michelle Hamel (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2019 Michelle Hamel. All rights reserved.

About 11 months of planning culminated in one amazing August day. On August 11, my son Andrew pledged his life to his new bride, Liz. Andrew is our second child of our eight living children, and the first of our crew to get married.

The wedding day itself was amazing! The temperature was in the high 70s, the humidity was low, and the skies were clear. It felt like an extra gift from God.

The ceremony was perfect. We all thought Liz would cry, but other than a couple of times that her eyes welled up, there were no tears that escaped. There was just pure joy on her face as she frequently looked over at Andrew … she smiled with her mouth and her eyes! It was really beautiful to see.

I didn’t cry either, although I thought I would. The whole thing felt so surreal. Several times during Mass I found myself saying in my head, “Your son is getting married. Andrew is really getting married. This is happening.” There was just so much to take in!

And even though we had 11 months of planning, it all went by so quickly. The 24 hours before the wedding were stuffed full of final touches, errands, moving more items over to the apartment that Andrew and Liz would move into on their wedding night, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and of course, all the craziness of the wedding-day preparation with hair, makeup, and making sure everyone stayed fed and hydrated.

The night before the wedding, Andrew, with his groomsmen, slept in his new apartment for the first time. I forgot to acknowledge that the night before the rehearsal dinner would be the last time he slept under our roof as our child. I wish I would have appreciated the moment a little more. Andrew mentioned it as he was leaving on the night of the rehearsal dinner to hang out with the guys. It was more of an offhand comment and ended with a shrug. It reminded me of my own wedding day. … I was so excited about everything that I forgot to enjoy sleeping in my childhood room just one more time.

So many milestones of life are meaningful but pass by without us remembering to acknowledge them until they are gone.

And even though I had 11 months leading up to it, the night of the wedding and reception, I realized that everything had truly changed in just a few short hours. My son now belonged to Liz. My role in his life has forever changed. Change certainly isn’t a bad thing in this case. It’s quite the contrary. I love Liz. She is an amazing person. She is beautiful, both inside and out, and one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people I know.

But even good change can be hard.

Even though I didn’t cry at the wedding, my tears came when I walked into Andrew’s half-empty room two days after the wedding. His bureau is still there with some of his clothes. And his banjo was still leaning against the wall … a whimsical purchase he made several months ago that he is teaching himself to play. I wasn’t expecting the emotions that bubbled up inside me after only taking a few steps into the room. The pockets of grief always catch me by surprise. I have SO much happiness and joy that I feel over the wedding, but there is still some grief because our “normal” has ended. I will just miss knowing he is home, although usually holed up in his room. I will miss the random conversations and spontaneous game nights. I will miss that our house will no longer be the only gathering place for our older crew. I will miss hearing their laughter every weekend … and I will probably even miss their squabbling just because it meant they were there.

For almost 27 years I have been a wife, for 26 years I have been a mom, and now I add a new name: mother-in-law. And even though I have been getting to know Liz over the last two years, it felt that everything was new. There was a paradigm shift that night. I felt a bit awkward and I’m sure it will take a while for all of us to fit into our new roles. I’m praying that I will be a good mother-in-law. I’m praying that I can be loving and supportive … but not cross that line into being “too much.” I want to give them space as a couple, yet make sure they know they are always welcome into our home as they start a new home for themselves.

I know it will take time. And I keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the prize … someday, God willing, there will be grandbabies!


Copyright 2019 Michelle Hamel

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About Author

Michelle Hamel is a cradle Catholic who tries to keep up with the chaos of raising eight kids with her high-school sweetheart. She spends her days trying to make sure everyone feels loved and squeezing in Adoration visits. She is especially grateful for her bonus babies as she navigates the lands of teenagers and young adults. Michelle blogs about faith and family at Normal Chaos.

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations! I’ve been a mother-in-law for 3 years now and it was an adjustment, but when I see my children with their spouses I appreciate how well they chose. I love watching them grow as a couple too, and now as parents.

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