I'm a mess. It's been 5 days and I'm exhausted, wondering, bleary-eyed, happy-sad, lost.
First and foremost, the event was spectacularly awesome. The day was storybook perfect with temperatures in the mid 70's and sun shining. After weeks and weeks of rain and cold temps, that the day dawned warm and clear was truly a gift. The whole weekend was perfectly gorgeous to boot. As the saying goes in Wisconsin: if you don't like the weather, wait a day. True to form, in the days since the wedding, it's been unbearably humid and hot (in the mid 90's) and today it's 54. So, truly, the wedding day was plucked from the heavens.
The event itself went off without a hitch, though the stress leading up to it was crippling. There are millions of details for a wedding that must be identified, listed, taken care of, and crossed off. On top of these are the ones you've forgotten, the ones that pop into your awareness in the middle of the night, the ones that you must somehow add to the next day's list that's already too long. Then there's the issue of getting the house ready and in order so that you're not embarrassed when 40 people show up the day after the wedding for the gift opening. And when I say house, I mean inside and out. Dusting, vacuuming, window-washing. Yard work: pulling weeds, mowing grass, hauling mulch. In the 2 weeks prior to the wedding, my husband and I nearly killed ourselves hauling mulch from the driveway into the flowerbeds. And by mulch, I mean 33 yards. For those of you who need a visual, think of an impossibly huge pile of mulch and then triple it. Seriously.
I arrived at the day sunburned, stiff-limbed, and severely sleep deprived. Our house was bustling with activity: all the bridesmaids and mothers were getting our hair and makeup done at our house. My mother-in-law had advised that I should try to let loose with some emotion prior to the BIG DAY, but I had been so busy, so go go go, that I hadn't been able to find a quiet moment to relax. She was right, of course. As were all the others who dispensed sage advice. But what I recognize now is that this is a solitary experience. Even though we may have all married our daughters off, we will each experience it individually.
My daughter is my oldest child, the first one to get married, my only daughter. I am deliriously happy for her and her new husband. They are perfect for each other and love one another fiercely. But I cried many times that day, mostly in unexpected, out-of-nowhere moments. In the shower: I thought, she's not going to be mine any more, she'll no longer be a McMahon. While getting my hair styled: "Dog Days Are Over," a song by Florence + The Machine, came on and I thought of the first time I heard this song - while watching Glee with my daughter - and how, because I'd like the song, she'd bought me the CD. In the moments before I was to be escorted down the aisle: an overwhelming thought, this is real, this is real.
There are no time-honored traditions for moms that allow us to acknowledge our emotions during this life-changing event. Fathers offer a toast before dinner, a minute or five where heartfelt words are spoken, shining a light on the father's love for his daughter. Fathers also have the father/daughter dance in which a song that is meaningful to both dad and daughter is played, and they twirl about the floor, displaying for the room, the world, their love and affection, their honest emotions.
I sat on the sidelines watching them dance to IZ's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," my heart swelling with love and pride while tears ran, unchecked, down my cheeks. In that moment I held my daughter in my heart, remembering words from my sister-in-law:
We raise and care for our children only to let them go when they are capable of caring for themselves; we hold their hands as they learn to walk only to let them go when they learn to run; we teach them to love and care for people so that when they find that love in another, they move away from us and live fully. But ultimately, we hold them in our hearts for all times and from there we never let them go. It is in this place that the joy of loving your child will abide and it is there that you will feel the tug that tells you it is time to pass your child, and all that she has become, to her chosen one.
I'm feeling a little raw, a little lost.