My oldest son is getting married Saturday. It is a time for great reflection. Who am I kidding? It is a time for a flurry of appointments, shopping, phone calls, swiping of the credit card (don’t worry, I pay off the balance every month) and stress. There is happiness and joy somewhere amidst all that, too. I’m just sure of it. In any case, here are just a few observations I’ve made on this and other topics near and dear to the hearts of mothers-of-older-children. Not there yet? No worries. It will sneak up on you more quickly than you think.
If you wait long enough someone else will take your kid to Disneyland, on their dime, and (but not related) your kid will discover the merits of hygiene for his or herself.
If the worst thing your kid wants to do is wear his hair like Shaggy in Scooby-Doo or dye her hair bright red with Kool-Aid, twice, then consider yourself lucky. Everybody loves Shaggy. And Kool-Aid e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y fades. I’m sure red dye is better taken externally than internally anyway, so everybody wins (unless you live in Hurricane, UT).
It’s harder than climbing Everest, but avoid criticizing bad fashion/makeup choices. Just bite down on your tongue until you induce bleeding. Generally, if you say it out loud, your kid will be more determined than ever to maintain whatever particular style haunts you long after he or she would if you just waited for his or her best friend to mention that it’s totally not cool.
Sometimes it takes two-and-a-half years.
There are still worse things.
Refrain from cursing your child with payback via his or her own children some day. Said children will be your grandchildren, so don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. (Note: I have always heard this as “cut off your head to spit your face.” No doing things half-way around here.) This once came out of my mouth: “I hope your children never behave like this, because no one deserves to be treated this poorly.” It’s sincere. It’s good a zinger. And it carries the added charm of being a blessing against demon grandchildren.
Tragedy+Time=Comedy. Sometimes there is not enough fast-forwarding or time travel in the world to coax a laugh out of some of the truly awful days, but try anyway. It’s better that way.
My son is really truly getting married Saturday. It’s my first wedding. I am getting really good at nodding my head and saying, “Sure.” “That will be great.” “Whatever you want, dear.” “Whatever you decide is fine.”
It’s WAY easier (and cheaper) to be the mother of the groom.
There is something to be said for elopement. Or just not having a reception at all. When I was in college my roommate’s parents paid her three thousand dollars to NOT have a reception. She still ended up with three nice blenders.
Note: Three thousand dollars went a lot further in the olden days than it does now, but it should still buy a nice honeymoon.
No one RSVPs anymore. I still don’t have any idea how many people I am feeding at the wedding luncheon on Saturday. Neither does the caterer. Forget your NCAA brackets. Let’s have a pool to guess how many people will show up for lunch.
Feeding a crowd? Three words: Cafe Rio Catering. Aside from trying to pull numbers out of a hat, this couldn’t be easier. I hope there are leftovers.
Finally and most important: RSVP.
Please, please, please, please, please RSVP. That’s short for if you want food on your plate at the wedding luncheon, please tell someone in advance that you’re coming.
If you feed them, they will come back. Sunday dinners are good. Sunday dinners with dessert even better. Sunday dinners with dessert consisting of chocolate rule.
Invest in a decent washer and dryer. Generally speaking, your kids would rather kill time at your house (especially if the fridge is well stocked) doing their laundry than at a laundry mat. (Note: My kids will tell you there is no food in our house. The cupboards and refrigerator are full, but there is still no food in the house. Truth is, we have plenty of food. It just tends to not be food that cooks itself. Does that make me a bad mom?)
Don’t compete with your inlaws/keep track of visits. Even if your kids do not come around as often as they should, trying to make them feel badly when they do come around only makes them want to come even less. As for the competition, if your kid marries up, your inlaws will be better than you anyway. You wouldn’t want it any other way.
Be flexible. Impossible to get everyone there for Thanksgiving dinner on actual Thanksgiving? Have Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. I’m not budging on Christmas, but that’s ok. I secretly dream about being one of those people who goes to the movies on Christmas Day because they have absolutely nothing else to do.
How about you? What things have you learned the hard way about raising/marrying off older kids. Any tips on how to be the perfect mother-in-law? It’s my greatest aspiration next to *flying.
*more on that next month