Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Priest, a Mother and a Bride Walk into a Bar

It might seem like the opening line to a joke, but the only way it would be funny is if someone finished with the line-take my mother, please!

I love my mother, don't get me wrong. We have our good days, and our bad...and just so you know I tend to write on the bad...but we seem to have gotten stuck in the phase of teenage adolescence (at least they believe that I am) and we can't escape it.

My mom has always wanted me to behave a certain way, we'll call it the "good daughter" way. Stand up straight, smile for god sakes, wear only appropriate clothing (no cleavage, belly or anything too short) don't argue, don't pierce or tattoo, don't drink, don't argue, make time for your family, no driving with anyone under the age of 21, do what you're told, don't have sex until you're married, don't argue and finally why can't you be like (insert name of specified cousin, peer, other particular idol that my mother was certain was a better daughter than I was).

Well I blew all of that right out of the water. (My favorites were when she wanted me to be like someone in high school that I knew was a kiss ass to parents but had the worst reputation- well which one is more important to you, be like her, or get VD for graduation??) The funny thing was I always thought that I was being the good daughter. I wasn't some wild child sneaking out, getting drunk, going to parties, and that was even in college. I did what I was told because it had been ingrained in me for so long that it took years before I realized that I needed to be sure that my own needs and wants were being met. Since I have done this, well the good daughter doesn't visit so much, at least the way my mother tells it.

Over time I have killed her with embarrassment again and again. I dated a man that I met on the Internet. I eventually moved in with this man before getting married, I refused to coerce my boyfriend to get married, and now I want to plan my own wedding. Horrors!

It wasn't always like this. I remember when I was growing up she'd tell me stories from her own wedding. How she didn't get to choose anything that she wanted- her parents did it all. She didn't get to have any close girlfriends as her bridesmaids, it was all her sisters and cousins. She didn't get to go out and have a girls night, she had to stay in and make paper flowers for the car, even walking down the aisle my grandfather asked her if she really wanted to do this repeatedly- all because my dad wasn't originally catholic (he converted to marry mom). The night before their wedding they missed the rehearsal because they were sent off running errands and they wouldn't redo the rehearsal because it wasn't necessary. Mom told me that she was so upset that she tried to convince my father to just run off and elope to Niagara Falls. In the end they didn't only because one of my dad's aunts had flown in from England and they didn't want to disappoint her.

I took all of those stories to mean that when it came time for my wedding that she'd be understanding and want to work with me in the manner that her parents didn't. Instead right out of the starting gate they just kind of did their own thing. Looking at reception sites without us, never asking how big a wedding we wanted- just assuming that we'd want a big 300 person wedding, and now pressure to have the catholic ceremony when I really want to have a garden wedding and grief because I chose friends first to be in my wedding party instead of cousins.

There's a little part of me that's hurt she can't see how much its all upsetting me. The first month after our engagement I wasn't eating much, defiantly wasn't sleeping and nothing I seemed to do or say with my fiance would make me feel like she was listening.

A month after we got engaged my dad and I were driving to yet another site, and he finally asked me what did I see for my wedding. Parents that don't try to take over was on the tip of my tongue, but I went the other road.

I want to enjoy my engagement, I want to plan a wedding that's practical and reflective of my fiance and myself. I want my parents to be willing to have open and honest discussions with me about budgets, ceremonies and guest lists instead of flying off the handle and giving me the silent treatment for weeks on end because they don't like what I have to say. I want my dad to walk me down the aisle- so eloping isn't a possibility, and I want our friends and family to surround us while we pledge to marry one another.

The funny thing is- I understand exactly how my mother felt during her wedding, now if only I could remind her of how she felt then maybe we could get somewhere instead of circling each other in this cage death match we seem to have going.

Oh well, if we had the cage match maybe we could sell tickets. It would pay for the cost of the wedding and a great honeymoon to boot.

So, now back to the joke. I'm on my way to meet with my parents priest. My parents arranged the informal meeting because they wanted to hear exactly what was involved in Pre-Cana (that my friends is another blog all in of itself!) and I suspect because they want to have an audience to guilt me further into having a Catholic Mass Wedding. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm being set up for an exorcism. I cast thee ungrateful bride out! We'll have to see.

Shiny Happy Bride-to-be! Yeah Right

Ah, the new bride; joyful, radiant, filled with complete bliss! Single women envy them, and want to be them. Nothing more weighing on their minds that the mission to find the perfect dress, and how to make their day the ‘bestest’ ever!

But there’s a dark underbelly to this time for some newly engaged brides (and grooms to be). Conflicts wrought with emotion, anger, fear or even misery and it has nothing to do with wanting to lose weight to fit into that dress.

How many brides out there have found yourselves stuck in this situation? Your significant other of however long proposes, you accept and it’s all bubbly and shiny joy. Oh happy day, you’re getting married! You tell your parents, your friends, your loved ones and can’t wait to have them celebrate with you, only to have the cold cynicism wash over you.

“He’s not good enough”, “you’re too young”, “you’re just settling”, “he’s not/ she’s not (insert your parents religion here)”, and you find yourself arguing or defending your choice of a future mate.

You might find yourself in a plight like mine. I’m 31 years old and my boyfriend of 4 years proposes and I joyfully accept. My parents are not exactly flowing on the happiness for me, but joyful to anyone else they tell. We start the wedding planning, and fiancĂ© and I tell them our vision of getting married in a garden or outdoor setting and my dear sweet very catholic mother flips out. Suddenly instead of joyful new bride to be, I’m the shameful, family embarrassment; the one tearing out my poor parents hearts and stomping on everything that they worship when all I want to do is to celebrate what I believe.

When did this become so hard? When did emotional bloodletting become the new norm in family wedding celebrations and how come I missed the memo?!

I’m not sure exactly why my mother is so surprised. This non- catholic me has been around for a very long time; more than 15 years, but my mother hasn’t wanted to see it. I haven’t gone to church in years, except when attending a funeral or a wedding, and even then I remain respectfully quiet and non participatory. I don’t have a new religion that I wish to turn towards, I’m simply choosing not to continue in the one that my parents have chosen for me. I think that she would rather have heard that I’d dabbled in prostitution or was a heroin addict with no intention of getting clean.

Well maybe not, but my beliefs, my wishes weren’t being considered, just the age old reason for doing anything- “What would the neighbors/family/world think?!”

Heaven forbid that anything is done for personal pleasure, or for our own wishes. That is too selfish. Instead we should do things to please others, and walk the road that they choose for us, because who wants to be the lone person swimming against the crowd.

I do. (There look I’m already practicing my lines for getting married.) I was raised, I thought, to believe in myself. I want to walk the path of my own choosing and I want to do it in a white dress (of my own choosing). The question is how to get there without carrying years and years of guilt, while still keeping family ties. How unfortunate that the SAT’s prepared me to expect analogies and multiple choice. Looks like I’ll have to hope to make up points on my essay and hope against hope that there won’t be too much math involved.

Happy Anniversary- The Birth of the Sarcastic Bride

Happy Anniversary!

Its been 1 month today since my boyfriend surprised me on my birthday with a proposal. I have been feeling family pressure for years to “make him come up to snuff”, and even lately have been hearing that “he’s never going to marry you, you should just move on.” This all came after the many discussions clearly disguised as emotional jabs to the gut in the form of “ you’re not getting any younger”, or “you’re starting to look your age”, or my personal favorite “he’s your last chance”. The verbal gut checks over the years have actually created layers upon layers of sarcastic replies, and even forced me to create automatic responses to the questions with too many tongue in cheek responses; none of which of course I can let fly in public. So I retreat to the Internet, the Glorious anonimity of the ether, and use you dear phantom reader as my physciatrist. Because there ain't no way that I'm getting through with planning this wedding without help!