I received a wedding invite the other day. It came as an attachment on my email. It was from my cousin. I read the mail. Nothing unusual. ‘Would love to have you over’, it said. I re-read the email before opening the attachment. ‘This is for real. The cousin I knew as a newly-married bride, will soon become a mother-in-law’, I smiled thoughtfully.
It was when I met her three months ago that she announced her son’s wedding. I was meeting her after nearly two decades and I was pretty excited. I noticed she hadn’t changed much and her unmistakable smile instantly warmed me up. We exchanged notes and finally when she gave me the ‘big news’, she smiled with pride. I looked on as she laid out the details. I couldn’t help wonder how much time had gone by. While I was getting busy with my life, I had failed to notice that the world around me also was on the move — getting older, wiser …
“So, you are going to become a mother-in-law,” I teased. “But, I will be a good one,” she protested with a smile. “That’s what everyone says,” I teased further. I noticed, she quite enjoyed the attention while I wondered deep down, ‘Would I be like this? Happy and smiling? Or would I be a nervous wreck?’
I am not sure what my parents went through as they married me off to the man of my dreams. How could any parent trust their child with a stranger? Were my parents nervous too? How did my mum and dad know if I had indeed chosen the right person? Is it normal for the parents to have apprehensions, doubts? The thoughts had me uneasy.
Busy, mundane things
I watched my cousin as she continued to smile, oblivious to all the complicated ideas that ran in my mind. But the thoughts didn’t stay with me for a long time. They were soon forgotten with the busy, mundane things of life. They had stayed out, till I saw the email staring at me.
Now, as I read the email, the same feeling that had bothered me back when I had met her came rushing back.
Yes, a lot of parents get their children married and I have personally attended many weddings. I have always rejoiced in the festive fervour and congratulated the newlyweds. But I have never for once wondered how or what the parents go through.
Now, for the first time, I was taking in the news of a wedding as a parent. I continued to think of my cousin for the rest of the day. Perhaps, she wondered if she would be able to handle the new relationships. Perhaps she doubted her ability to continue to nurture her new bond of love. I know I would. When I put myself in her shoes, I find myself a ball of nerves.
I took in long, deep breaths before writing back to her, wishing her all the luck as she embarked on a new journey. As I finished the mail, a faint picture of my wedding came to mind. I remember my mum and dad standing next to me, dressed in their best clothes. I remember tears in my mum’s eyes, which she tactfully wiped. I remember my sister hugging me tightly … but I just have faint memories because I was preoccupied with what lay ahead of me. As a young bride, I failed to feel what my mum went through. The picture tugs at my heart. ‘One huge event that could change the course for the entire family’, I sighed. I look at my son. It is never easy for a parent, I realise.