Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother of the Bride

A week ago we were in Guatemala for our daughter's wedding. We traveled together with our sons and daughter-in-law, and our daughter's good friend to meet Carrie and her maid of honor in Antigua, Guatemala. We had been planning this journey for a long time.
Five years ago Carrie fell in love with Guatemala. She had gone there for spring term with Bethel University. She had been stuying spanish all through junior high, high school and college and was anxious to try speaking in a spanish speaking country. I encouraged her to go, wanting her to have many experiences in college, not realizing that Guatemala would steal her heart.
That first trip led to three more, and finally to a job teaching in a bi-lingual school there. Two years ago she met Mardo at a church there. After dating for a year she invited him to visit Minnesota, and they came home. We enjoyed getting to know Mardo, and soon realized that Mardo would probably become a member of our family. Mardo came again at Christmastime, and shortly after the new year he asked Carrie to marry him.
So for the last 4 months we have been planning a wedding, and our trip to Guatemala. Carrie and I spent many hours talking, planning, shopping, and making things for the wedding. I soon realized that as mother of the bride, my main role was to listen to Carrie. It wasn't my job to make decisions about the wedding but to help Carrie sort through her dreams, see her options and give her alternatives. I'm not sure that I was always successful in being a good listener, but I tried. I tried to be there to give a helping hand, but not take over.
Two weeks before the wedding Carrie left for Guatemala, to finalize details there. After she left I finished programs and decorations, packed her wedding dress, and made final plans for the rest of the family to travel there. On May 2 we boarded the first of 3 airplanes to travel to Guatemala.  After traveling all day we arrived in Guatemala City.  Carrie met us at the airport and the wedding week began.
As mother of the bride my job that week was to support Carrie, and to be the liaison between her and the rest of the family. Since spanish is the language spoken in Guatemala, and Carrie was the only one in our family who could really speak spanish, she had the additional burden of interpreter for all of us. I think it was very stressful for her as she tried to coordinate some activities for us to do and also do all the little things that need to be done in the last days before a wedding.  There were a few moments of frustration for both of us, and a few tears, but when wedding day came it was forgotten. Carrie was ready to get married, and it was a day of happiness, peace, and joy. I am so thankful for a moment alone with her as we walked to the market early that morning to buy roses to decorate the aisle. I loved just being with her.
In the hours before the wedding I helped Carrie get dressed. I decorated the reception tables, and put the flowers down the aisle for the wedding. I tried to just be there for Carrie, to smooth out wrinkles and take care of details so that she could focus on just getting herself ready.
And when the ceremony started I sat back and enjoyed the wedding. My doughter was a beautiful bride, and Mardo was so happy to be marrying her. I know that he will love her, cherish her, and take care of her and I am happy for them both.
I have now exchanged my "mother of the bride" role for a new role - "mother-in-law." It is one that I am familiar with, since my oldest son has been married for 9 years. I welcome Mardo as another son, and look forward to a richer future as our family continues to grow. I look forward to being my daughter's friend more than being mom, and realize that my greatest responsibilities continue regardless of whether I am mom, mother of the bride, or mother-in-law: to love my children and to pray for them always.

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