Yep! That’s my feeling after the “giving away” of our third daughter last weekend. There’s joy and excitement and … relief. 🙂 And to clarify, it’s not that I was fearful she wouldn’t marry. I don’t believe that it’s God’s will that every single woman become a wife. And I also didn’t have anxiety that our middle daughter would somehow be left out of God’s plan for marriage. Much of my relief came from the release of being the Mother of the Bride. I realize that not everyone understands my angst about this role, but somehow through the years I allowed the perceived expectation and judgment from others to dictate my attitude toward planning and pulling off a wedding. At this point, I am not looking for sympathy or accolades. I’m just thankful for friends who helped me survive the three events, and for daughters who genuinely expressed appreciation.
So I’m taking a deep breath. It’s a sigh, of sorts. We have officially moved into a new season of parenting now that all three of our daughters are married. Recently, we laughed about this feeling with friends who are going to have their last daughter married in a few months. There’s something about giving away a daughter that says to her new hubby “she’s your problem now.” Oh goodness! I just laughed out loud as I typed that! For those who know me, I feel sure you are able to detect my sarcasm (as well as some reality) in that sentiment. Our daughters bring us so much joy. We have mostly delighted in parenting them. But I would be misrepresenting our lives if I said there was no drama in raising three girls close in age (3 1/2 years between the three). Having four emotional women in a house certainly created for some highly spirited moments. And I can’t deny that not only did I fail to patiently and gracefully assist in diffusing the day to day crises, I sometimes made it worse.
Therefore … Whew!
As I ponder the marriages of my three daughters, I’m so grateful. It’s not because they obtained three perfect husbands. Nor do I have a faulty expectation that our girls found their charming princes who will provide them with an everyday happily-ever-after. I’m not dreaming of some fairy-tale life for them, void of heartache or disappointment. (In my idealistic moments as their mama, I might wish that for them, but I’m too much of a realist to actually believe it would happen). In fact, I’m very aware that there’s much more unknown ahead than there is known. 31+ years of marriage has taught me that. Lasting love and a healthy marriage don’t come easily or cheaply. It’s not necessarily a romanticized view of married life that provides me with a thankful heart.
My thankfulness rises from this one thought: I can release them totally and permanently because Christ will hold them fast.
When we gave our daughters to their husbands, we were choosing several things for them. We were intentionally and finally letting them go. We were entrusting them to the men they chose. We were releasing our hold and our previous roles as their authority. As soon as they said their “I Dos”, our relationship forever changed. In the book “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards”, Dr Dobson mentioned a survey of adult children. He said that those who were surveyed revealed that their number one difficulty/concern was their parents’ inability to let them go. In God’s sovereign knowledge of this issue in marriage, He gave instructions from the very beginning about how it should look. The married couple is to leave their parents and cling to one another in such a way that they are no longer two individuals only, but are now unified as one. I love the idea of calling our adult children by one name. For instance, Erik and Amanda became AmErika. Kyle and Natalie became KyNa. I haven’t thought of a name for Lauren and Matt, but I guess Llama works! 🙂 Whether or not we combine their names into one, we are to view them as such. God said so.
So even though I may not have been the best MOB, I can give our married daughters (and their hubs) the perfect gift: release. Release to love and serve their husbands. Release to make decisions as a couple. Release to create a marriage that might look different than ours. Release to grow a family their way. Release to move away. Release to make their own decisions about how they’ll spend holidays and vacations and days off. Release to allow God to work in their hearts and sanctify their marriages and lives.
And there it is. Whew!
I’m relieved and thankful. Because I can trust that “He who began a good work … will complete it.”