Here we are. The week of the wedding. There was not a lot of fanfare leading up to this time. Not a ton of planning. The engagement was announced less than six months ago and in that span, life and also death, were given room to occur. The wedding preparations did not move everything else to the side. In fact, the arrangements really just began in earnest a couple of weeks ago. The brides are very aware that their marriage is what is their priority and the wedding is about being surrounded by the people they love most, as they dedicate their lives to one another. Not much more. This completely evolved mindset is so admirable to me. Yet, I’m pretty sure it’s the reason why I feel so surprised that here we are already!
I feel like I’ve been jumping youthfully on a trampoline, only to wake up this week and realize I’m being catapulted into a new dimension of life, aging rapidly as I soar through time towards my daughter’s wedding. And it’s a little discombobulating because I’m not stepping onto this new stage with one foot in front of the other, as I did the first day of Freshman year, after the extensive college searches and hoopla. Last week I was a younger mom and this week…all signs say I’m OLDER. I’m the mother of a bride. I’m about to have a married kid and daughter-in-law.
For the past few days, everything has seemed symbolic to me, sending me signs that I am officially not a mother of young children anymore. It started with the snow storm last week. Towards evening I decide to help some of my favorite trees who are bowing dangerously low under their weight of snow and ice. I spend a good amount of time gently beating the snow off of each one of them until they can stand upright on their own. As I admire my work, darkness falls over my house and the world becomes deliciously peaceful and still, with soft snowflakes dropping down on me, and the warmth of the insulated sky comforting me.
I think back to all of those years that my kids would spend hours in the snow, sledding, making elaborate snow caves, igloos, snowpeople and creating imaginary games. I used to yearn for the day when I could stay inside reading by the fire, instead of shlepping out the snow clothes, bundling everyone up, and braving the elements that they never seemed to notice. This evening, I look around desperately for those kids. It’s hard not to call to them. I want them out here with me. I know they’d appreciate what I am appreciating. But no one is around. They’re all too old.
So, I make my own snow angel. And I remain lying in the snow, with flakes floating into my eyes, realizing that I am here. My mother-in-law used to remind me to enjoy the chaos of a household of young children because one day I’d miss it. I did believe her and with the reminder, I would do my best to appreciate the joys. But today is the day that I realize I’ve walked through one field of life into another field, and that those past times are truly over. All I’m left with is nostalgia.
And anticipation for my daughter’s wedding in a few days. My children will all be together for the first time in about a year and a half. The power of that is not lost on me, nor on them. For the past couple of days, they’ve been sharing the memories of their childhood with one another and talking about how much they miss each other.
Life cycle events are swirling around me this week. Over the past two days I attended a baby naming and I comforted a mourner. Three days ago I enjoyed a wonderful kindergarten assembly, and pictured my daughter on the stage, 15 years earlier in that same assembly. And all I want to do now is to bless her in the same way the parents in the audience were blessing their young ones. It is hard for me to grasp the reality that she is not the five year old who is so vivid in my mind; she is an adult. The reality feels less possible than the memory.
When my daughter came out to me a few years ago as a transgender girl, I’m not sure I would have used the word lucky to describe her. I worriedly played different possible scenarios over and over in my mind, as I thought about what her future might be. Then again, when she got sick a year ago, I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought lucky when thinking about her possible fate. But today I see how fortune smiles upon her. What I had failed to imagine, was the possible scenario that she would find true, respectful, mature, joyful, romantic love, and would get married within five years of coming out. She wasn’t always legally allowed to do that where she lives. The window now is open and my heart is filled with pure gratitude.
It’s understandable to me why my daughter and her fiancée, who have both lived many years beyond their chronological ages, feel the need to make their union legal. They know that we cannot predict what will happen. And they know that wherever their future journey does take them, that they need to ensure they’re on it together.
I also realize, as I savor my nostalgia for the memories I’m leaving behind, that I like the older version of myself. I picture myself gently closing a gate behind me and then moving gloriously forward into my next stage of life, that I’m anticipating will be filled with joy and love. I realize that I am not the same mother I was when my daughter was in kindergarten. I have grown, as well. I find gratitude much more easily now. I am comfortable not knowing the outcomes of our experiences in a way I was not years ago. I am less fearful of challenging times and I am able to reframe my perspective to meet my needs for joy, faith, and life-balance. I am less judgmental about if things are good or bad, or if people are right or wrong. I learn from everyone and occasionally people learn from me.
I do savor my memories. I’m also excited for the potential of this new phase I’m entering. I especially celebrate where I am right now. Here. Honoring love.