Below is a speech given by my 12-year-old daughter, Claire, at our wedding. She told me months beforehand that she wanted to say something, but she wanted it to be a surprise to all the guests. She also wanted to surprise her dad, Chris. At the reception, she stood up in front of everyone, without any fear, and gave this final toast.
For a long time it was just my mom and my two younger brothers, Austin and Tommy. But a year and a half ago, that changed when Chris – my dad! – came into our lives.
Of course, he wasn’t my dad right away. He was just my mom’s friend and then her boyfriend. Actually, early in the pandemic, I heard my mom talking on the phone every night and I wondered, “who is she talking to until like 1 o’clock in the morning?” But my mom didn’t tell me at first. Then, one day, she was talking on the phone and I asked her who she was talking to and she said it was MS. BECKY’S BROTHER! I was only in 5th grade, so I didn’t really understand everything, but I asked her, “MOM, do you like-like him?”
She said she did! So the next night, I decided to sneak and listen at her bedroom door. They talked for three hours! I thought, “oh wow, my mom has a boyfriend!”
I began to know Chris. My mom would call him every day and we would talk about what was going on in our lives. I could see my mom’s face light up every time she would call him and how he would laugh about my jokes even though they were bad. He seemed nice and funny. At first my mom having a new partner made me feel unsure, because everything was happening so fast. I knew Chris a little bit but I didn’t know everything about him. I wondered if he liked us? Or if he liked to bake? Would he help us with our homework when we needed it?
A day before Easter my mom got a call and went outside. She showed up a few minutes later and Chris was there, standing in the doorway!
We had so much fun with Chris and each day I spent with him it felt more like he was becoming a part of our family. We came to Maine many times, and we went on hikes and runs together. He helped me with my Spanish homework and helped me do virtual school. He helped me with my anxiety and all the hard stuff. He learned how to spot me on back handsprings and did backflips with me in the pool. He ate all the cupcakes that I made and said I was a great baker.
Every day, he did all the things that a dad would do. I don’t know when he became my dad, but I know that now, he is my dad. And he will always be my dad.
And also, I know he loves my mom. He always does the dishes. If my mom tries to do the dishes, it is not allowed in our house! My dad says, “no, no, no, that’s not your job” and then he does the dishes. They run together every morning, and then my dad always makes my mom’s coffee.
My parents kiss in the kitchen and I think, “woo! Man oh man, that’s LOVE right there!”
When my dad decided to propose to my mom, he told me the night before. My brothers didn’t know, so I had to keep it a big secret! I was so excited I couldn’t sleep! I’d never felt that excited and happy before.
I see my parents in love and it makes me want to find someone to marry someday who is an equal partner and who shows compassion to everyone. And someone who thinks that I’m beautiful and smart.
I love that my parents love each other. I don’t even really mind how much they kiss in the kitchen anymore. I’ll always love my parents unless….they decide to chaperone the next middle school dance. In which case I will never talk to them again.
I love you mom and dad.
Image Credit: Sharyn Peavey Photography.