May is motherhood memoir month

Wild Love & the Wrong Dress

It started as a joke, a text to my daughter: I found my MOB dress (bright orange and white with an oversize fun to twirl flounce, lots of sequins and big gold beads…)
She loved it, wanted to post it on the wedding site as an example of “Funky Formal”… Texted her best friend- Mama Greenstone slaying the perfect funky formal mother of the bride dress… Truly an original diva…

My next text: And we need to find dad an orange mariachi hat and suit… You know I’m kidding right???
Her- about the dress or the hat?? … How could you be kidding about this dress it’s perfect

Me- I’m saving this dress for my debut on Dancing with the Stars.

Meanwhile I texted my hub- found my MOB dress.

He sent a pic of a blazer with large orange roses. Said he’d wear that.

How is it that no one thinks I’m kidding? (And even now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have at least worn the orange dress for the reception, but an outfit change is more than I could muster).

As MOB I’m in a supporting role. Our daughter wanted both her father and I to walk her down the aisle. I just couldn’t see myself in the orange whirlwind dress. It felt like a dress that would attract too much attention.

What are the traditions, if any, behind how the wedding party dresses?

Our daughter wanted her 8 attendants and one flower girl in shades of rusty red to peach. Each girl could choose her own style as long as it fell into that spectrum and was floor length. The groomsmen were all in blue suits, except for one. That one is our youngest son who wore a jumpsuit designed for a woman. I’m still unclear on why. Over a year ago he told us he identifies as non-binary. What does that mean? we asked. He has lived with a woman for several years and had girlfriends before her/they. At some point the pronouns and the name changed- hers to they. His stayed the same, although he says he’s okay with any pronouns.
Was he in a polyamorous relationship, I asked, trying to understand. No, he said, it is a committed relationship.

We’ve never seen our son in clothing designed for a woman (unless you count a photo of a Halloween costume as Princess Buttercup). I found out he planned to wear the jumpsuit two weeks before the wedding. Our son is 6’5” and very slender. I called and asked if it was the cost of the suit that, at least in part, motivated his decision. Partly, he said. So I offered to buy him a suit.

There are many ways in which this was going to be a difficult day for his father and I (none had to do with who Lily was marrying- we love Jordan and feel he is a good choice for her). Our son said he’d think about it, but he gave me his measurements and I went ahead and ordered a suit. The next day he texted, said his mind was made up. We were confused. I asked if we could sit down together and talk. Could he help us understand this decision? He would not.

We love and accept our son no matter what. But I’m not going to lie, it was difficult seeing him dressed in a jumpsuit designed for a woman at his sister’s wedding. She encouraged it.

Sometimes it feels like our kids are just thumbing their noses at us. On the other hand, this doesn’t exactly feel personal, though that was the first reaction. His father cried, wondering what he’d done wrong, but then he let that go. So much to let go of, and yet…

Lily, the bride, wrote me this poem:

You would really let me wear that dress? You asked, incredulous, and I said 
of course, you’re always wearing crazy dresses.
Bright orange and baby blue with beads all over that the drag queen you met in the consignment store even complimented.
Of course, because it’s so you—
Of course, there goes my mother, you can’t miss her—she commands the room.

In a good way, I’ve always thought. It doesn’t take away from me.

I get to love you for the bold and crazy, for the adventure, for the laughter, for the mountain bike scars and the cliff-jumping into rapids that I was sure I’d lose you to that day. 
I learned to love, wildly, from you.
Brush strokes that bleed the lines you drew. Maybe you had a whole map for us, made of that blue ink—
and mothering feels like bleeding,
blue drips from the detours we took around your beautifully planned masterpiece.
Maybe it would have been better to stay inside the lines. But maybe this is better than anything you could have planned—isn’t that what you always say about us?

Somewhere, there’s a planet that only we know about,
because a hard-to-understand kid let us in on his dreams.
Let us see a slice of it, look at the colors—the geography captured in stripes of amber, can’t you see it? The whole surface looks like that. Rings of molten glass in the colors of mars. 
I think we’ve always known that he transcends the lines that were drawn for him. Back then he tucked those pieces away in an old cigar box with the rest of our precious little things.
Now there’s no denying all the ways in which the ink slides out of its grooves.

Will you still love us for the mess? For the planets we create and the stories that we tell too much of and the uncontainable parts of ourselves?
Of course, you can show up however you want—
I’ll take you any way you come.

In a dress, on a kayak, climbing out of a tree. This is the wild love you taught me.

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