We just wrapped up an emotional, joyful, exhausting weekend–our almost 30-year-old daughter is married.
My daughter and now son-in-law wanted a destination wedding; that is what we did. Before we left, the Digital Marketing Strategist for Families Connect, LLC asked me if I thought I’d cry. I paused a moment, and said I didn’t think so. Emotions of joy don’t tend to evoke tears for me. But what, with a bit of reflection, are the thoughts and emotions accompanying a threshold life event like this?
Passing the Baton
Parents know we pass through stages with our children. Obviously, as infants they are totally dependent on us; our goal is to nourish and love them.
Later begins the gradual process of letting go. First day at school. First date. First night driving alone. Off to college. Step by step, more and more independence.
The wedding felt like a culmination of this process. I’ve been letting go, but before my daughter’s wedding I still believed I stood behind, first line of defense (with my wife), in support if needed. I’m still there; but I’m second in line. A new man is on the scene to love and care for my daughter; his job now first and foremost, ahead of me.
That feels good. That feels like it should be. No doubt, the fact that I greatly admire my son-in-law helps. I’m glad he’s now first line of support for my daughter.
A Continuum of Caring
The wedding also is a vivid reminder that we live our lives in a process moving from dependence to independence and back again. Stasis is the illusion; process is the reality. Sandwiching my daughter are our granddaughter and our parents.
Attending the wedding was our perfect, beautiful four-month-old granddaughter. Surrounded in loving care by her parents, of course; and also her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, her cousins and everyone attending the wedding, best as I can tell. She is now completely dependent upon this community of love for her well-being, and she is in good hands.
Our living parents also were able to attend. It wasn’t easy, but they were there. These grown-ups who raised us and cared for us and ushered us into independent lives: they now need help.
My favorite part of the Episcopal baptismal liturgy, which I believe has universal application, is when the priest asks if all those who witness the baptism will do all in their power to support the person being baptized. The congregation replies, usually heartily, “We will.”
That is the sentiment I felt we shared at our daughter’s wedding. Friends and family, assembled for this special occasion, were there to affirm support for these people marrying one another.
The Central Reality
Independence is an illusion. In isolation, physical or emotional, none thrives. Relatedness is the ultimate reality. Whether we are infants, newly-married brides, or great-grandparents fortunate enough to attend a grandchild’s wedding, outside of loving relationships there is no well-being.
My emotions: joy and gratitude for this community of caring for my daughter and her husband.
And, by the way, that’s actually why Families Connect exists: to nourish and support life-giving relationships.
Did you know you can privately share all of your wedding day memories with guests, as well as friends and family, through the Families Connect app? Sign up today for free and start sharing your favorite milestones.