Lets talk for a minute about irrational fears of the future, shall we? I attended a wedding reception recently and found myself drawn not to the beauty of the dress, the glow of the bride, or the quiet anticipation of the new groom. All of these elements were indeed present but they did not capture me as they usually do. I should say that they began to capture me until a thought wafted through my mind that I'd known this bride (read 'little girl') for ten years now. When I met her, she was thirteen. And now she was making one of life's most significant transitions--one that would invariably shape the trajectory of her life.
From that moment on, I couldn't think about this little girl...I mean bride. All I could think about was her mom (ahhh...I'm getting old...associating more with the mamma than the blushing bride...). I was transported to ten years hence at the wedding reception of one of my own little girls or a few years after that to the wedding reception of one of my precious sons and all I could imagine was--is despair too strong a word?--yes...maybe...how about gloom--that I might feel upon giving away a LARGE piece of me to another. I felt a sweep of anguish at the reflection of mistakes made, opportunities missed, you know, the general flub-ups that are incident in all of our fallen attempts to mother well.
How could this mother of the bride look so joyful and calm? I mean this gal didn't walk throughout the room greeting guests, she floated!! Incomprehensible! She reflected a pure undulated serenity that completely mystified me. And to complete this delightful juxtaposition between my feelings on their behalves and their own real feelings, I looked over to the father of the bride to see downright jubilation. He was visiting with my husband and threw his head back as he gestured to the photos of the wedding party--taken in something like -14 degrees! He was just delighted at the incongruence of the joyful faces in this photo-- quite literally as frozen in cold as they were now frozen in time.
Smiling faces in bitter cold. Joyful parents in letting their daughter go. How was this so? There is something that touches down deeply here. Anyhow...the next day in a tender moment spoken by a tired mom-of-bride, I learned that her joy came from feeling at peace with her own inner compass. She said that although she made a million mistakes and would love to go back and change another million things, she felt that her children all knew they were safe in coming to her and her husband whether blue with sadness or red with anger. Well that is not exactly what she said but you get my point...They tried their hardest, mended fences as they fell, failed and tried again. Sometimes succeeded. Never stopped trying. Gave roots and then gave wings.
In essence, my friend--the mother of the bride--was an engaged parent. And according to the theories of shame and vulnerability researcher and expert Brene Brown--engagement is the only true marker of a 'good' parent. I have no doubt that these parents of the bride did spend their share of time feeling the exquisite pain incident of transitioning through the beauty of life's changing seasons in our own and our loved one's lives. But after the pain comes an even greater joy, which I was privileged to see as the bride's father took his daughter in his arms for their first dance together as father and grown-up-married-daughter. Very sweet indeed.