On July 5th, sixteen years ago, my husband and I stood at the front of my parent’s church surrounded by family and friends and publicly proclaimed our commitment to one another. I had grand visions of what our wedding anniversaries would be like. Perhaps trips to exotic destinations. Or, a new ring for a milestone anniversary. My visions certainly didn’t include spending our anniversary dancing in public, without a care in the world, to Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” with our tween and teen laughing. More on that shortly.
The three years we were married before we started a family, we marked our anniversaries with fanfare and spontaneity. High-priced concert tickets to see a favorite band perform? Let’s do it! Last minute flight to New York City to see the sights? Sure, why not? However, as we began having children and as they started getting older, a shift occurred in my perception of what our anniversaries should look like. They are still about us and our marriage, but they are also about the products of our marriage: our kids.
Going back to where our family began
With kids, I traded in my exotic anniversary vacation locations for a destination that I treasure more dearly. We have established a tradition of traveling to Nashville, TN, around the date of our anniversary. Nashville is where my family of origin lives and also the city in which we were married. It’s a chance for the kids to spend time with their extended family. However, we also go back to the church where we were married and reflect on how far we’ve come in our marriage and as a family.
While there, we always take a set of photos in the same spot we stood on July 5, 2003. One photo of the two of us together. One photo with the kids. One photo with the extended family. My hope is that as they grow up and look back at the photos we’ve taken of them with us at the church through the years, they will understand that our family truly began on that muggy July afternoon in 2003.
Daddy and Mama got married again
On our 10th anniversary, my newlywed desire to upgrade my ring when we reached this milestone was replaced by a desire to upgrade our commitment to one another and our family. We renewed our marriage vows in front of our family and friends two days before we moved to Oklahoma City from Indianapolis, IN in 2014. We were leaving behind a community we loved deeply and beginning a new chapter of our lives in unfamiliar surroundings, among people we did not know.
It seemed appropriate to mark this particular anniversary with a reaffirmation of our commitment to stand with one another no matter what lay ahead for us with this move. This time, however, our children (ages 8, 5, and 2 at the time) stood at the front of the church with us. Our five-year-old informed everyone that her daddy and mama were getting married again—explaining a vow renewal to a five-year-old is challenging. Each of us held a container of sand in different colors and poured a layer into a single jar, symbolically unifying us a family.
“Everybody Dance Now!”
How else would we celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary this year but with our kids? Which brings me back to why I was embarrassing my kids by doing the Running Man and the Butterfly on our anniversary. As luck would have it, the Oklahoma City Myriad Gardens hosted a free, family-friendly 1990’s Hip Hop Dance Party on that day. We are a family that loves music and dance, so it was the perfect way to celebrate.
I made a couple of stops at local thrift stores in Moore to find items for the family to wear for the dance party. To my surprise, the kids completely embraced the idea of dressing the part of 90’s hip hop dancers. The girls even entered the kids’ Best Costume Contest. The deejay played songs that we had danced to as boyfriend and girlfriend so many years ago before we were married and before kids. They loved seeing us enjoying ourselves together and saw that they were a part of that joy for us.
How do you celebrate your wedding anniversary now that you have kids? Are there traditions that you have established as a family to honor that special day?