Thoughts After a Wedding
My little boy just had a birthday; he turned 30. Not only that; he got married in February to a bright, lovely young woman, has a great job and a close circle of friends, and seems to have the world by the tail. As his mom, I am delighted for him, and proud of him. You’d think I’d be able to relax and turn my energies to other matters, wouldn’t you? But I’m finding it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
My son’s wedding was an amazing event, as beautiful to look at as something from the pages of a magazine. The wonderful thing, though, was that it felt like a down-home family party. The bride and groom spent a year planning this celebration, and it showed; I enjoyed every single moment. And dancing with my son was something I’ll remember forever.
Here’s the funny part, though. As my husband and I drove home from Las Vegas through the Nevada desert, I watched the muted colors and intriguing forms of the landscape flow past my window and found that I had some very complicated feelings. “I feel,” I told my husband, “like the lady in the fancy hat who shows up with a bottle of champagne to launch a ship. There’s a lot of music and confetti; she smashes her bottle on the bow of the ship and watches it glide slowly into the sea. As she continues to watch, it turns and steams away, beginning its journey toward the horizon. Here I am with my fancy hat and broken bottle, feeling completely obsolete.”
For years, I’ve told parents that our job is to nurture our children on their path to adulthood, that we don’t get to keep them and that it’s important to prepare them to make good decisions about how to live a healthy and happy life. And I believe that. I enjoyed being a mom, even when it was challenging. I celebrated the milestones of high school graduation, college graduation, and even law school graduation.
But something about that joyful, amazing wedding brought reality home to me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. My son’s task now is to turn his impressive energies toward his own family and future. My job is to love him and his wife, to offer support and encouragement (when asked, of course), and to accept that I am now playing a minor role in my son’s life. Oh, the love and connection are still there and I hope they always will be. But it feels very different—and it should.
I used to be a bit smug about this stuff. I shook my head at all the moms who couldn’t let go, who were intrusive and controlling, who criticized their child’s partner and disapproved of his or her choices. So here’s the funny part: letting go is harder than it looks. Being a mom has been the central fact of my existence for 30 years. I am delighted that my son no longer “needs” me to do everything for him—but I miss being needed.
Parenting isn’t easy. It’s difficult to keep a strong connection with your kids, to teach them what they need to know, and to model the sort of character and skills you want them to have. Every parent I know gets frustrated and discouraged, wishes the job were easier, and dreams of a day without noisy, argumentative teenagers or whining toddlers. Well, folks, that’s where I live now. And I have one thing to say to you: Enjoy it and make the best of every opportunity. Smile more; slow down. Take photos. Savor your children’s presence in your life. I am grateful for every moment of motherhood, every memory—even the painful ones. It all went by far too quickly.
| Posted by | Wednesday, April 23, 2014|