There are certain titles, names and monikers that you never shed. Many know this all too well and can recall times when an embarrassing childhood nickname was unexpectedly screamed in a public space. Others blush when someone discovers old social media handles that reek of past lives and youthful mistakes.

Labels and designations can evoke a multitude of emotions and are often quite difficult to shake. But every now and then a title you wouldn’t mind accepting comes along…titles like “Nobel Prize-winning” or “Oscar-nominated”. Many of us gladly carry titles like “Teacher of the Year” or “valedictorian”. For me, that prize-winning, always rewarding label is “Mom”. I no longer have the title of “wife” for now, but I’ll always be “mom”. This is why my next statement might shock you.

I still wear my wedding ring. Proudly.

My ring is extremely important to me. While peripheral circumstances may be presumably more complex, I delight in the opportunity to speak about this token that holds such a dear place in my heart. What better place to begin but at the beginning?

As we grew more serious in the dating phase of our lives, talks about “the ring” began to pop up. He knew how impassioned I was regarding all things design. You see, when designing is a part of you, it becomes another title you carry with you forever. Creating was something I breathed, and he respected that. I never dreamed about being surprised with some ring a man chose for me. I wanted to be a pivotal part of the process. From blueprint to form, the construction of my ring needed to come from me, and he obliged.

Along with design, jewelry has also been something I’ve loved all my life. From the age of about 11 or 12, I started collecting pearls, and that collection grew tremendously in size and in sophistication as I matured. I amassed a collection of several beautiful pieces in various styles. I had the unfortunate experience of having my collection stolen at age 24, and it was devastating. Jewelry, more than shoes or bags, has always held a special place in my heart because you can pass it down from generation to generation. Electronics malfunction. Clothing wears and tears. But you inherit your grandmother’s jewelry, and that’s an invaluable treasure.

As we began designing the ring—even before we were engaged—we became pregnant with our first child. The ring became a kind of precursor to the family we were becoming! For me, maybe for us, part of being married was being a family and having these two beautiful boys. There is a general assumption that wedding rings mean the same thing for everyone who wears them, that the ring conjures up visions of white tulle, bouquets and sprinkled rose petals. When I stare at this ring, now worn on my right hand and different finger, I see the family I was blessed to create more than nuptials. I see a reminder that I got to select the father of my two children and build a life which will connect us all for at least the next 18 years. I see a distant vision that may include my ex and his partner, along with myself and whomever at our sons’ graduations, maybe even their weddings.

My ring is symbolic of many things. At its best, it is a symbol of our intentions. It is a wearable time capsule, rousing memories of the best of us, and emotions from which I don’t need (or want) to disconnect. This beautiful piece of jewelry shifts in meaning from hand to hand. On my left, the necessary ending of one chapter. On my right, all the things I never want to undo: my family unit. The essence of it all doesn’t have to be diminished; it simply needs its new space.

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