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The One with the Other Wedding Dress

28 Jan

I cried in a dressing room today.  Not because the dress didn’t fit right or because I felt fat.  Not because it was way too expensive.  Not because it was heavy or uncomfortable.

It actually fit me like a glove– hugging and forgiving in all the right places.  It was dreamy and beautiful and extremely lightweight.  (I twirled in it and felt I might fly away).  And it was incredibly inexpensive for what I saw in it.

And what exactly did I see?  Well… I saw the wedding gown that I should have purchased.  It was elegant without being princessy.  It was modern chic without looking too outrageous.  It looked unique and special– set apart from all the other humdrum gowns that more or less look the same.  It made me feel stunning.  And it was almost exactly 5 times cheaper than the wedding gown I already bought.

The dress I found today

My sister and I took our mother to the mall for her birthday to help her find ‘the dress,’ as she calls it.  The ‘mother of the bride dress.’  But we are our mother’s daughters after all– meaning that, just like her, we like to dress up every chance we get.  So as we were pulling gowns off the racks for her to try on, we were also pulling several choice dresses for ourselves to try as well.  One of them being this dress, the should’ve-been-my-wedding-gown dress.  My sister suggested it, thinking that it would absolutely pale in comparison to the dress that I bought way back in October– the one that the women in my family not only ooh-ed and ahh-ed at, but also the one that I giddily and impulsively committed to spending a fortune on.  I tried it.

Wrong move.  (Don’t do it, ladies.  Never try on a dress that even remotely looks like it could pass for a wedding dress AFTER you’ve already gone and purchased one for the big day.  It’ll end badly.  Trust.  I’ve done this twice now.  And yes, I’m smacking my forehead with you).  I was surprised by how comfortable it was.  How pretty I felt in it.  How unbelievably wallet-friendly it was.  (Again, 5 times cheaper than the wedding gown I’d bought.  How?  What?  Why?!)  “What do you think?my sister asked.

At which I promptly burst into tears.  Torrents and torrents of tears.  Because, when I looked in the mirror, I not only saw a wedding dress, but I saw how much money I could have saved.  I saw how much stress I could’ve saved both the futhubs and myself with that extra money.  Had I bought that dress instead, we might’ve been able to afford proper wedding favors.  Or actual flowers.  Or maybe pay for the bridesmaids to get their hair done.  We might’ve been able to book a nice hotel for our honeymoon night.  Ultimately, it came down to this (as it always seems to): I’m still costing my poor futhubs a fortune.  Pretty much his entire life savings.  (Much of that is due to poor planning/budgeting on both our parts very early on, but it leaves us stuck with that sad fact).  I felt incredibly spoiled and undeserving.  And regretful.  And selfish.  And stupid.  “I HATE MONEY!” I wailed as I flung my arms around my sister‘s neck.  (Yes, I’m totally the youngest child).

My mother and my sister were wonderful.  They doused me in verbal affirmation, telling me that the dress I’d already gotten was to die for.  My sister held me close.  She made kind shushing noises and rubbed my back.

I know that you’re kicking yourself right now,” she whispered.  “But it’s just money.  The futhubs is gonna think you look absolutely gorgeous in your dress.  Really.  And at the end of the day, you’ll be married.  And it’ll all be so happy.  You know?  This is just money.  You don’t have to dwell on what you ‘should’ve done’ instead– it’s not worth it.”  (My sister‘s amazing).

I sighed heavily.  I wiped my drying tears.  I honked my nose loudly into a tissue  my mom produced from her purse.  (She’s got everything in there.  Tissues, tylenol– you name it).  I stood up.  I took a picture in the dress.  And tried on others.  You know how they say: “Keep calm and carry on”?  Screw that.  Have your cry.  Cry it out.  And then carry on.  And if at all possible, be around people who love you and will whisper truth in your ears even when you don’t know that you need to hear it.

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When was the last time you had a good cry?  And what helped you ‘carry on’?

The One with the Breakfast Tradition

27 Jan

Purchased: two bags of baby spinach, a block of smoked gouda, a carton of eggs, a sack of clementines, one bouquet of wild flowers, and a card.

In about 5 hours I’m going to wake up and do what I’ve done every morning that I’ve been home on this date.  I’m going to wake up early, clang around some pots and pans in the kitchen, whip up a gorgeous and scrumptious meal, lay it out all fancy on our family’s “You’re the Best” plate, and serve it to a certain someone in bed on a breakfast tray.

It’s my mom‘s birthday today.  And this breakfast tradition has made her happy since… forever.  And I’ve loved it– all of it, the entire process, every year.  Setting my alarm impossibly early so that I’d beat her downstairs.  Rummaging through the cupboards to find the right cooking gear, always unintentionally making a huge racket in the process. 😛 Finding new ways to fold the napkin all fancy; she likes it when I do that.  Figuring out how to make instant coffee taste drinkable.  (Still can’t brew a real pot of coffee to save my life).  Realizing it takes a whole mess of eggs to make an egg-whites only omelette.  Adding splashes of color with a single flower.  A sliced and fanned out strawberry.

Birthday Breakfast 2009

I just love the look on her face.  ‘Beaming’ is the word that comes to mind.  And suddenly she seems more like a young girl.  “Sit with me,” she always says, offering food off her plate.  (I just realized Papa always makes his way downstairs.  “I don’t like to eat in bed,” he says.  But maybe he wants to give us our time).  Because we just sit there my mom and I, talking and laughing by ourselves, splitting the bites between the two of us.  Until finally I say something like, “I better go make Papa something; he must be hungry.”  And she’ll just wrinkle her nose at me for a second, as if in childish protest, give my hand a squeeze and say, “Thank you!  I love this.  I look forward to this every year!”

Every year.  Each time it goes down more or less exactly like this.  I’m not sure why I felt the need to write about it… except for the fact that this will be the last year that I do this for my mom.  The last year that I wake up in the morning in the same house and give her this gift of a home-cooked breakfast, of time.  Together.

Our relationship is just so… complicated.  I even got into an argument with the futhubs tonight about it as we were wedding planning at his place.  I got upset with him for something he said because I felt like he was making an indirect jab at my parents.  (He wasn’t at all; I found out later).  And I got super defensive and protective of them.  But after we talked it out (read: I cried it out), I realized that… I’m crazy.  I always vent to the futhubs about how my mom is unreasonable, demanding, and sometimes a little cruel.  But if he even says one word that sounds even remotely like it’s against her, I immediately fly into action ready to defend.  I throw up a shield with the words: “I know my mom’s crazy, but only I get to say so, dagnabbit!

Even on this blog whenever I vent about the latest conversation with my mom, in the same paragraph I want to jump to defend her honor.  To tell you that she only says what she says and does what she does because she doesn’t know how else to show me that she loves me.  She doesn’t know how to be vulnerable when she’s upset.  So she fights with me because she feels like I’m going off and getting married and she’s ‘losing me’– her ‘baby.’  Because if she says it outloud, she’ll start crying.  And sometimes she does say it outloud.  And on rare occasions she’ll even let me see the tears.

And sometimes on her birthday I get to spend a whole morning laughing and talking with her, seeing her as the young, joyful woman she must have once been.  And I think, “What a gift!” It’s like I’ve been given a secret: that in my mom’s heart of hearts she’s just a young woman like me.  A young woman who loves to laugh.  Who hates goodbyes and can’t stand change and loves so much she’ll think her heart will break.  It’s like for one morning a year, we somehow understand each other.

And maybe I’m being stupidly sentimental and overly nostalgic (or just plain PMSy and emotional ’cause, not gonna lie, it’s totally about to be that time of the month).  Maybe I’m making all this so much more dramatic than it needs to be.  But I’m thankful for today.  Every year.  I’m thankful for my mom.  She’s a firecracker and a frigging handful, but I love her to death.

And dagnabbit I’m every bit as crazy as she is sometimes.

The One with the Emo Prewife

25 Jan

Can I just cry a little?
And maybe whine a little too?

  1. I just found out that the futhubs’ brother, the eldest of the three best men (who are also his brothers), might not be able to make it to the rehearsal+dinner.  And then I found out that because of rules for his med school, he’s not even guaranteed that weekend off.  He and his wife may not make it to the wedding.  It’s totally out of their control and they’re fighting it like mad.  But… whattttt.  Are you kidding me?  Whyyyyy?
  2. My mom sat me down tonight and had a long talk with me about how I need goals in life.  How I never get anything done.  How she doesn’t want my wedding to look… (searching for the word in English)… cheap, I guess is a way of putting it.  Or maybe, ‘low-class.’  (I can handle the first two complaints [been hearing them forever], but bringing my wedding into it?  *breaks pencil in half* She told me that using pinwheels for bouquets makes it look like I’m a cheap college student.  -.-  Grrrr).  I love that she cares more about how the wedding will reflect on her than me being happy.  (I hate that things like that still hurt me). *
  3. I found out that my cousins from Texas may not make it to my wedding.  The youngest in that family is being shipped off to Afghanistan via the Marines and so they’re flying to California next month to see him off, which means they might not be able to afford another trip out here for a spring wedding.  It totally makes sense, and if I were them I’d want to see my brother off as well.  It just makes me sad.  And I know that’s selfish.  I just thought for sure they’d be there.

All these disheartening things, right?  Sigh.  And then I started thinking about all the people I thought would definitely be at my wedding, who are actually gonna be no-shows.  My first roommate from college, whom I love dearly.  She’s in a hardcore firefighter training academy and isn’t allowed a weekend off.  The students that I worked with while I spent 2 years in college ministry.  The team that I took to Japan with me on a summer-long missions trip.  My old college friend, W, who’s in East Asia right now on a 2-yr-long missions leave.  (I totally would’ve set him up with one of my 7 bridesmaids; he’s such a stud; they’re amazing women).  It’s sad to think that they won’t be there to celebrate with me.  It’s heart-breaking to think that there probably will be many more people who won’t be able to make it for whatever reason.

I know that there will be plenty of other people whom I love that will be there to celebrate with us on that special day.  And I know that, whatever my mom thinks or says, our wedding will be beautiful and filled with love.  It’s just hard sometimes to focus on the positive.

…I’m gonna go eat a piece of cake now in a non-eating-my-feelings kind of way.

* Next day edit: I had an epiphany a long time ago, sometime in college I believe, that I’d apparently forgotten.  It’s this: there’s no pleasing my mother.  No matter what I do, there’ll always be something she’s not happy with.  Something that I didn’t include her on.  Something I could’ve done better.  But that doesn’t have to define me.  My mom probably grew up in a household where her mom treated her the same way she treats me.  Here’s to not carrying that with me into the new family the futhubs and I will create.