So breathe it in and breathe it out
And listen to your heartbeat
There’s a wonder in the here and now
And I don’t want you to miss the miracle of the moment
Steven Curtis Chapman
In a recent yoga class, the fantastically beautiful, kind, encouraging instructor said something that resonated deeply with me “don’t loose your breath during the transitions” (https://theyogaproject.com).
If you are not familiar with yoga, it is a series of movements and positions all connected with mindful breathing. Purposeful breathing is the most significant element of any yoga practice. When practicing yoga focusing on yoga breathing or ‘Ujjayi’ breathing keeps you in the moment, forgetting the ‘self’. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states “the self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness”. This concept . . . not loosing your breath during the transitions . . . can be directly applied to the art of living well and navigating life’s transitions with grace. Learning to appreciate and respect the full spectrum of human emotions with less fear is a challenge; however, recognizing each emotion and listening to the direction it is leading is an act of self-acceptance and conscious living. I remind myself often that emotions need to move or be expressed. My latest transition proved more challenging than I imagined . . . my precious daughter getting MARRIED!
Finding Peace in the Role of ‘Mom of the Bride’
It is with the hope of giving another Mom permission to accept and feel the entire experience of the transition of your daughter becoming a married women that I am sharing my experience. Interweaving my daughter’s love story with some bits of ‘wisdom’ that I discovered through the process. Any major transition is best approached with the idea that opening a new door requires grieving the door you are closing. This blog will describe this transition through interwoven stages of grief, acceptance and joy!
When your daughter’s meets the love of her life and tells you ‘Mom, you know when you know’ . . . . then you meet your future son-in-law and you agree, it seems like the emotions surrounding this change would be more on what most of us would consider the positive side. You know what I mean . . . joy, happiness, excitement anticipation, love, contentment. After all, what more could you want for your daughter than a man who loves her completely, helps her find balance, loves life, can cook, laughs with a full heart, and has faith in the Creator of all things great and small? Like many significant transitions in life, your daughter getting married might have a bitter sweet quality. For me some unexpected emotions like sadness, futility, anxiety and a kinda floating around feeling (untethered?) came and went throughout her engagement and wedding.
Grieving (it is okay and normal!)
As your children grow, you delight in their accomplishments and try to savor every moment. After pouring everything you have . . . . love, constant adjustments through child development, patience, physical energy, emotional turmoil, and pride . . . you realize that your role as a caregiving parent is almost complete. You will always be her Mom, but her highest loyalty will be to her husband. How can you be the Mom that you daughter needs during this season of change while being on the stepping stones of a new phase in your life too? Somewhere in this process, I decided to be willing to feel it all and remember to stay in the ‘miracle of the moment’. What is there to grieve?
And If it Brings You Tears, Then Taste Them As They Fall
- Until now, your daughter’s care and protection was entrusted to you and her father (or in our case, her Poppa).
- A new ‘we’ is being created. . . . although her family of origin will hopefully remain significant, her highest loyalty will be to her husband and the family they create.
- There is something weirdly archaic that feels like you are ‘handing over’ your daughter or as the traditional wedding vow says “who gives this woman to be married”. This stems from antiquated times in history when women really were their father’s property and a dowry was given to the groom or the grooms family.
- Her life flashes in front of you from her first moments . . . . it went by so quickly . . . you want a rewind. Remember and cherish it all!
- Let’s face it . . . your daughter getting married is a reminder that you are entering a new phase of your life. Your role of ‘Mom’ has been changing all along and with a marriage being planned. . .a true test of letting go is underway.
- In order to truly ‘let her go’, to encourage her to walk into a new forever, requires that an invisible door is closed so that a new one can open.
Acceptance . . . it Comes in Waves!
From your daughter’s announcement of ‘I have found the one’, to her engagement, showers, bachelorette celebration and her joyful wedding day . . . acceptance comes in waves. When Chris asked my husband Chuck to go to dinner alone in May of 2014, I told Chuck that Chris asking him to go to dinner alone could only be for one reason . . . he was going to ask for Chuck’s blessing to marry MacKenzie. Chuck continued to be skeptical and in a fog of disbelief yet this was indeed the purpose of the ‘man to man’ dinner. All went smoothly. Chuck and I were fortunate to be part of Chris and MacKenzie’s engagement at the Eiffel Tower in Paris in July of 2015. What a wonderful evening and joyful event! A little more acceptance . . . our tomboy Mackenzie has grown into a beautiful young woman who is ready to begin her life with her closest friend.
You may find yourself with a strong dose of surrealism as the wedding date nears. Perfectly normal. You may have a little difficulty staying in the moment . . . normal again . . .just refocus on the here and now, practice deep breathing with two feet planted squarely on the ground!
Joy and Celebration
When MacKenzie was quite young Chuck and I put money in savings for MacKenzie’s possible future wedding. Remember that bit about letting go . . . giving your daughter and fiancé a budget that they manage allows you to stay out of the details of planning. MacKenzie and Chris found a great venue in Fort Worth, in the fall of 2014; however, in the early Spring of 2015 Kenzie announced to me ‘Mom, I think I want to get married in Paris’. No not Paris, Texas but Paris, France! WOW . . . . this was very unexpected! My response, ‘honey you must be tired. Take a nap and call me back’.
It took both the bride and groom’s families a little while to adjust to this change BUT Mackenzie and Chris had their budget and were able to stay within those financial limits. My daughter is quite persistent and creative. She decided she wanted a very small wedding and heading to Paris, France for the “I do’s” accomplished this goal.
MacKenzie choose Fête in France (http://feteinfrance.com) as her wedding planners and they attended
to every detail with professional excellence leaving the bride, groom and their guests free to enjoy all festivities. Happy Hour at Bar Du Central (http://www.barducentralparis.com) was arranged prior to the rehearsal dinner which took place at Restaurant 58 in the Eiffel Tower (http://www.restaurants-toureiffel.com/restaurant-58-tour-eiffel-paris). All went smoothly throughout the evening of the rehearsal celebration. The wedding party and many guests stayed at Best Western Trianon Rive Gauche (http://www.hoteltrianonrivegauche.com). The hotel staff took extra care to accommodate guests and support the wedding party on the day of the wedding.
The wedding ceremony took place at the American Church of Paris (http://acparis.org) which although a large sanctuary, still felt intimate for a small wedding. The Church was already decorated for Christmas, so not many additional decorations were necessary.
The reception venue was a small yacht with Yachts de Paris (http://www.yachtsdeparis.fr) which toured the River Siene through Paris on a beautiful December night . . . seeing Paris at night in this fashion was truly spectacular. The reception began with a lovely Apéritif, followed by a fabulous dinner, toasts to the honored newlyweds, cake cutting (along with celebratory flames), a bottle of Starka with special meaning (http://cr.middlebury.edu/bulgakov/public_html/starka.html), dancing and many special moments to be cherished for a lifetime. It’s a love story!
Suggestions for a the “Mom of the Bride”
- Be willing to feel the full range of emotions regarding your daughter’s engagement and wedding.
- Do go down memory lane, reliving all the magical moments of raising your amazing daughter.
- Talk, talk, talk to your supportive friends and family.
- Let the tears come, don’t be afraid . . . share them with your spouse, close friends and family.
- Let your daughter know that you are available to help and stay supportive.
- Remember that the role parents play in weddings has changed . . . be flexible!
- Provide a budget for your daughter and future son-in-law then ‘let go’. This takes much of the emotion out of the planning and places the responsibility of budgeting in their court providing an intimacy building experience for them.
- When tempted to get overly involved, tell yourself ‘this is my daughter’s wedding’! Trust her to make wise decisions with the money you have entrusted to her and her future husband.
- Finally . . . enjoy every moment!