49: The Mommy-Moon

49: The Mommy-Moon

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

The Mommy-Moon

A mother’s treasure is her daughter.

~Catherine Pulsifer

It felt like the wedding bells were already ringing the night my only daughter made her memorable midnight call — the one that let us know her boyfriend had finally proposed. Within a matter of days, the date had been set and the event officially scheduled for a short six months away.

As plans progressed, I made several trips from Dallas to St. Louis, where the affair was to take place. We were all on a treadmill running as fast as we could to find a dress, a veil, an organist, a photographer, a florist — you know the list.

Then came a second midnight call. This time, my daughter blurted out that she and her fiancé had decided to take their honeymoon in Italy.

“Wow, that’s great!” I responded. “What’s more romantic than going with your honey on a honeymoon to Italy?”

The next morning, however, sipping solo on a cup of Earl Grey, I felt a little uneasy. If I was truly joyful about her visions of Venice, why did I lie in bed crying after I hung up the phone? I certainly was not jealous! Was I wishing she would not go? Or was I simply wishing that it were me going on one last trip with my daughter before she moved on to take up space in someone else’s heart?

I glanced at the clock. She would have left for her early class already — and I was acting spontaneously — but I reached for the phone anyway, dialed her number, and left a message on the answering machine.

“Hey, sweetie… it’s Mom. Just calling to see if maybe the two of us could find some time to go on a mommy-moon before you walk down the aisle. Maybe Chicago? Miracle Mile? Do a little shopping? Toast the future? Just one last trip together? Think about it and call me back… I’m ready if you are!”

The mommy-moon was everything I had expected — and more. Even the female relatives of the family — once they heard about it — got into the act. And at the end of a twelve-hour drive, when I arrived in St. Louis to pick up my daughter, there was a massive cardboard box waiting in her apartment. Addressed to the bride-to-be, the postmark let me know it was from all her aunts and cousins in Tennessee. The instructions on the lower left corner were specific: CONTENTS: One Bridal Party. DO NOT OPEN until you reach Chicago!

The following morning, we laughed, lifted, shoved, and grunted until we had squeezed that enormous box (plus our luggage) into the trunk of the car. Then we pulled out of the drive, took a turn toward the freeway, and headed north to the Windy City. By early evening, we were safe in our hotel room, munching down on a traditional thick-crust Chicago pizza, and watching the sun go down across the lake.

“Okay, time for the bridal shower!” said my daughter. And while she cut through the packing tape and started unloading the box full of goodies, I set up a small table and two chairs in front of the window and got out my camera.

The female relatives from Middle Tennessee had truly outdone themselves, and the two of us oohed and aahed (as brides and mothers do) as we lifted the elegantly wrapped gifts out of the packing paper and arranged them on the table.

Near the bottom of the box, we found a handful of manila envelopes, labeled in the order they were to be opened.

Envelope #1 was full of latex balloons. We split the contents and started huffing, puffing, tying, and tossing the balloons around the room.

Envelope #2 contained two silk corsages, one for the bride and one for the MOB. We pinned them on our jean jackets, baby’s breath upward, and welcomed each other to our party.

Envelope #3 was marked GAMES. Inside were three bridal games, two pencils, and three prizes for the winners. (I won a potholder and a small cheese board; my daughter won a packet of recipe cards.)

Envelope #4 revealed a letter to the bride from her Tennessee aunt, who apologized that the whole gang could not join us in Chicago for the bridal shower. She assured us, however, that all their love and best wishes had been tucked in alongside the packages — along with a promise that they would all be in St. Louis to watch her walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Over the weekend, my daughter and I did pretty much whatever we wanted, whenever we felt like it. We rose early the first day, slept in the next. Stayed on budget in one store, splurged at the next. Ate healthy one meal, pigged out the next.

We shopped the Mile, browsed the back rooms for lingerie sales, and smashed a plate (Opa!) at a Greek café — just for the fun of it. We taxied a little, walked a lot, strolled in silence past shop windows, and once — crossing an intersection — she put her arm around my shoulder and whispered, “I love you, Mom.” We both knew that this mommy-moon was our last bit of private time — just the two of us — before she would take on her new name and new life. No surprise, then, on the last evening, drifting off the street into the back of an Irish pub, that we found ourselves in tears, listening as a local strummed a guitar and sang a familiar ballad from her childhood.

Next morning, when it came time to leave the hotel — just before heading to the elevator — we kicked aside a few of the balloons that were still on the floor and embraced in the middle of the room. I held my daughter close that day, whispering a prayer in her ear, thanking God for these few treasured days before she moved on from our family to a family of her own. I thanked Him, too, for the twenty-nine years she had blessed me as a mother, and for the joy and laughter she had brought to my world.

One month later, my daughter took her long walk from the back of the church to the altar. The honor fell to her teary-eyed father to present her to the groom, escorting her past row after row of friends and relatives (including those from Tennessee) who had traveled to witness the event.

As they reached the front of the chapel, a family friend began singing the tender words from “O Mio Babbino Caro” — and near the end, precisely on cue, dearest Daddy placed the hand of his beautiful bride into the hand of the handsome groom, and very simply and symbolically gave her away.

I sat in the second row smiling and let him have his moment. After all, in my heart, I had already given her away. And the photos of that event remain preserved in the wedding album for all to see — under the label: “The Mommy-Moon.”

~Charlotte A. Lanham

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