Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Well, it's been quite a whirlwind.
My son Jonathan and now-wife Caroline's wedding this past weekend seemingly snuck up on us, although the planning started a good 18 months ago. Until the date got really close, it didn't seem like reality (at least not to me).
And then, it suddenly was.
Planning a wedding is a job in and of itself, but when it's all done, it will no doubt leave you with a lifetime of warm and fuzzy feelings and beautiful memories.
I didn't have a big wedding; it wasn't exactly my thing (that, combined with family and financial situations which would have precluded it, even if I did want it). In spite of that, I'm so thrilled that this wedding took place and am still reveling in every wonderful, special moment of the celebration!
As the mother of the groom, my job was way different than that of the bride's mother, who was intricately and intimately involved in each minute detail. But I was thrilled to be part of so much of the prep work: the hunt for the wedding gown, the bridal shower, updates on the planning progress, the night-before rehearsal dinner for out-of-town guests and the wedding party, and finally, the all-important wedding day preparations at my home with a makeup artist and hairstylist to make us all red-carpet-ready.
Here are some things I experienced along the way. If you are, or will be, a mother-of-the-groom, you may experience similar things:
Family dinners will be dominated by "weddingspeak." Sure, you might discuss current life, but that life will be mostly trivialities (not really trivial, but compared to the wedding, they become so).
People will constantly ask, "Are you stressed?" You'll wonder why they're asking that. What's there to be stressed about anyway?
You'll start to see your son differently, remembering the time you said to him, "I may be the most important woman in your life right now, but one day, your wife will take my place." You'll remember when he started acting like a lovely gentleman and pulling the chair out for you in restaurants and helping you on with your coat, and you'll be pleased to see him doing that for his fiancée, too.
As the date of the wedding nears, you'll find yourself waking at 3 in the morning with your mind racing. Maybe you are stressed.
When the wedding week finally arrives, not only is your sleep not what it should be, but neither is your appetite. And when you work out at the gym, you keep thinking, "I sure hope I don't get hurt."
When people ask, "Are you stressed?" you'll finally admit that you might be, yes.
You'll begin to feel increasingly distracted and anxious and wonder why. "Oh, right," you'll say. "The wedding—it's in three days." You'll also feel very, very grateful for your daughter-in-law and for being alive to see your son get married. Because not every mother is.
You get very weepy, thinking back to the little boy who is now an almost-married man, wondering how it's possible that the years have passed so quickly since you last read him Goodnight Moon and watched him navigate kindergarten, play with his Legos, graduate middle school, go to the prom, apply to colleges, graduate, go to law school and get a very responsible job. You'll realize that although he is indeed a man, complete with an almost-wife, he is still a child to you. You wonder if that will ever change.
You'll tell your son "I love you" more than you usually do—and hope that you're not sounding too needy or desperate.
The night before the wedding, your speech at the rehearsal dinner will go something like this: "Whoever said a woman should marry a man who loves his mother was right. How he treats his mother will tell you everything you need to know. You are marrying someone who will love and cherish you and treat you with respect and kindness always." And you will grab a tissue to dab at your tears. Some people will imitate you.
You'll cry and hug some more, being careful not to smear your makeup on your son's collar as you pull him to you tightly, thanking him for not only making you a mom, but for making you a mother-in-law, too.
The morning of the wedding, you may get a call from your mom, telling you that she fell and is unable to come to the wedding. You'll cry silently, mourning the fact that she is the last of your son's grandparents and can't be there. You'll get another call from your sister telling you that your niece, who was in a car accident the day before, also can't come. They will both be OK, but they will be missed.
You realize once again that life is not only filled with celebrations and joys but sacrifices and tragedies as well. You must not let the last two get in the way of the first two.
The wedding will be magical, and you'll quickly realize what's been keeping your son and his fiancée so busy and focused for so long.
You will dance like a 20-something, but the next morning your arthritic knees will remind you that you're really 60-something and maybe you should have sat one or two out.
Your stress will almost disappear (but your sore knees will not), replaced by elation and happiness.
As you pick up your cell phone the next day to check your texts, you'll smile and finally exhale when you see one from your son, telling you that they have safely landed halfway across the world for their honeymoon.
You realize that although some things do change—that your son is now a married man, far away celebrating his honeymoon—he is, indeed, still your child.
This parenting thing never ends, and for that, you are grateful.
You'll start to feel stressed again about 15 days from now, waiting to get a text that their plane has safely touched down in New York.
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.