Here is what I refer to as the “unpaid staff” for the wedding!! All of my sweet college friends! I cannot even describe what a blessing it was to have them! Something about the stress of the wedding and then having dear old friends and sweet family surrounding you brings peace. There is much comfort in our friendship with each other. There were several times throughout the weekend where one of them would slip her hand into mine and say, “you’re doing a great job!” They were constantly checking in on me and seeing if I was okay. They were always saying, “You are the first one to go through this. You have to show us the way.” That may be too high of a call for me but I will say this, surround yourself with love on the day your sweet daughter gets married! It will be something just for you.

I did not see Mandi much during that weekend. In fact I hardly saw her. But the night before her wedding I went down to her room and brought her into bed with Jeff and I. I needed to say goodbye. I needed to know she was still my girl. I needed one last sleep over. That night as she slept I saw her as she was when she was 5 and 10 and 15 years old. I allowed my mind to revisit her young self.  I kissed her and for the first time I understood why sometimes my own mom saw me as my younger self.  That night it was almost like I completed my mothering circle with her. I said goodbye to being her mother in the way I had always been and I decided I would work at just being her friend. I would give advice if she asked for it but I would try my hardest to just share life with this darling woman and fill her with my encouragement. I will always be her mother but I prayed that night that I would be exactly what she needed as she moved onward in life. I looked at her beautiful face that night and thanked God for giving me the chance to raise such a wonderful daughter. I prayed for her and held her hand wanting to send all my love to her down through my hand into her hand and right up to her heart. I am not sure if she ever felt it but I felt it. And then I realized maybe I was doing it all for myself in order to take care of my own mother heart. Does your child ever realize just how deeply they are loved? Do they know just how easily you would do anything for them?  Do they ever get that you would literally die for them without much thought? My guess is they don’t realize it but they will when they look into the eyes of their own child. I never realized it. I never got it. But I do now.

Tomorrow morning she will walk down to her wonderful husband and I will have to honor to see her take her vows to love him for the rest of her days.  I can hardly believe the time is here. Sooooo THIS is how my mom felt when I got married…..Who knew? I’m glad I did not feel all this emotion. She will change her name today to Amanda Hayes. I will miss sharing a name with her but I am happy that she will be starting her own family. She will be a wonderful wife. She has been a wonderful daughter, devoted friend and a loving sister. She means the world to me and I send her out into this world with ALL my love!!  PS. I would do it all again if I could…..