A letter to my daughter on her wedding day

Well, Mel, this is it. Your big day. The day you “officially” leave me and begin your life as Mrs. Scottie Cowger. — Yes, there are tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this. Not because I’m sad. I couldn’t be happier for you, but because…. Well, just because I always cry at these kinds of moments. You know that.

I’ve reflected a lot recently on the day you made me a momma. I was 19; I had little idea what I was doing. I remember thinking my life would never be the same. I was scared. Overwhelmed. And yet we managed.

You were the most adorable baby. One day your dad and I hopped in the pickup with you to go look at a used carpet we’d found listed for sale in the newspaper. You were just starting to crawl and we wanted carpet in the living room to protect your knees as you learned to motivate. I was certain that the couple selling the carpet would see how cute you were and give us a deal on our purchase. (We were a very young couple, and with me still in college, it wasn’t easy financially.) But they didn’t. As I remember it, they indeed thought you were cute…, but apparently not that cute.

Adorable, yes; easy, no. There was the reflux that had you sleeping in your car seat. We’d put you to sleep (sometimes quite a frustrating task — see the next paragraph) and then set you, carseat and all, in your crib. You looked a bit pathetic, and I felt a bit guilty, but Dr. Prokop said that’s what you needed. If he had told me to stand you on your head, I probably would have done it. What did I know? But it worked. Soon you outgrew the acid reflux and could go back to sleeping in your crib as a baby should.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you slept. Ugh. After supper every evening your dad and I would climb in the pickup with you snuggled between us in your carseat and drive the backroads around Barnard. And drive. And drive. And drive. Until our beautiful little girl had finally decided to go to sleep. It was the only way. We’d take you home, put you and your carseat in the crib (see paragraph above), and tiptoe out the door.

You were nearly two before you slept all night. When I look back on that now, though, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. When you’d wake me in the middle of the night with your cries, I’d change and feed you, and then I’d rock you and sing children’s tunes and lullabies. Often I’d fall asleep in the chair with you cradled in my arms and we’d spend the rest of the night there together.

There wasn’t anything your dad and I wouldn’t do for you. I remember him running from house to house all over much of Barnard one particular evening because you wanted a “dog dog” and we didn’t have any. Thank goodness for Rita Hilsabeck.

“Dog dogs” and “cow cow bonk.” Those were your favorite. You loved to go with your dad to Blairs’ farm to see the animals and play in the milk barn. Heck, you loved to go. To Rita and Eddie’s, to Ninny and Papa’s, to nearly anyone who would have you. You quickly won people over with your adorableness and your sweet disposition.

Baths in the sink, you in one side, Brad in the other. Losing you and family and friends searching frantically, only to find you asleep under the playpen in your bedroom. “Special nights” with you on one side of me and Whitney on the other, cuddled up in bed reading before bedtime. The day in first grade when you got glasses and were so excited because you could read the road signs and billboards. (I felt so guilty for not having known that you couldn’t.)

You loved school and flourished. You were a reader and made friends easily. You tried your hand at athletics and struggled (sorry that I didn’t have any athletic ability for you to inherit), but you enjoyed being involved. You were a great big sister to Whitney, and the two of you spent hours playing together. (Remember when we put him in a dress and put his curls in bows? — He’ll kill me for sharing that!) When you’d come to my classroom after school was out, you’d get paper and pencil and draw, write, or play school.

And then Scott came along and you became his second mother. When tests showed that at age three Scott needed speech therapy, you were adamant that he didn’t. You could understand him just fine. Yes, you could, but sometimes even I had to ask you or Whitney to interpret what he said for me!

Your high school years weren’t the easiest for you and me, but we got through them and came out on the other side, probably better for the struggles we endured. And then you gave us Brayton, a beautiful little boy. So smart. So inquisitive. So much fun. Thank you for sharing him with us.

All of a sudden Scottie Cowger started stopping by to join the men who’d gather in the garage to visit with my Scottie. (Boy, this “Scott” and “Scottie” stuff DOES get confusing, doesn’t it?!). I knew who he was — Cody’s older brother, but that was about all. Naive, I asked my Scottie one evening why he’d started stopping by. Well, to see Melanie, it seems. Huh?

And that was that. You smiled. You laughed. He seemed to fall quickly in love with you and with Brayton. And then before I knew it, you were a family. And so you have been for nearly eight years. Today, though, it becomes official.

Despite the rain falling this morning, today is going to be a beautiful day. It is the day you marry the love of your life, your best friend. And it is the day that Brayton officially gets his second dad.

Remember, Scottie:  No returns. She’s yours now. Her stories that go on and on. Her need to include every detail in everything she says. Her love for drama — and to tease you with it. (To be fair to her, she gets it from her Papa.) But I think you’ll want to keep her anyway. We can share.

I love you both. Congratulations on this most wonderful day.


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