Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mothers and Weddings

When I was getting married (many many years ago), my mother took me shopping for a wedding dress. Since I had no interest in the dress, the wedding, or the marriage itself, it was entirely my mother's project and she was passionately invested in it. So while she was flying around the wedding-gown store, snatching dresses, throwing them down, criticizing gowns for not being good enough and me for not being interested enough, I had the following conversation with the store owner.

Store owner: Your mother-in-law is a very difficult person.
Me: Oh, it isn't my mother-in-law. It's my mother.
Store owner: Poor child! If this is how your mother treats you, I can't imagine what your mother-in-law should be like.

The point of this little anecdote is that often mothers have profoundly unhealthy attitudes to their daughters' weddings. This tendency is especially strong in cases of women who arrive at middle age with no life of their own. I often see my friends' mothers go completely nuts over their daughters' weddings. We live in a culture that repeats obssessively how a wedding is a most important day of a woman's life (which sounds prety scary. Does it mean that it's all downhill after that? That nothing of importance will ever happen to you again?). For the most part, women come out of weddings profoundly disappointed. The actuall wedding day turns into being all about the invitations, the menu, the center-piece, and the myriad little details that are boring, annoying , and have nothing to do with love and romance.

Women feel cheated out of this profound, crucial and life-changing experience that they were promised on a wedding day. So when their daughters get married, they see it as an opportunity to relive the experience and finally try to make it right. And, of course, it still doesn't work because they way weddings are traditionally envisioned, organized and experienced can only lead to disappontment and frustration.

Then again, there are always the granddaughters.


Kathy said...

You do always have the problem of parents who live life through their children.

Amanda said...

My fiance and I are going to be doing some things in our wedding to please our parents, but I will be DAMNED if I let them put in anything I outright agree with. I guess that's one of the pluses to caring just about the marriage part of it, and not so much the wedding-- you want me in a big poofy dress? Sure, as long as you pay for it and it looks good on me, what do I care?