I look darned good as a mother of the bride.
Three months ago, my daughter was married on what was one of the best days of my life. I hope she felt the same way.
If you had asked me 10 years ago about my daughter’s wedding, the image was much different than the reality. And I’m fairly certain vomit would have been involved. Mine.
When I celebrated my eighth year of sobriety in April, I liked to joke among certain friends that it only took me 22 years to get nine years sober. It’s true. I first walked into my recovery program in 2001 and was the proverbial revolving door, in and out, sober for a while then not sober for a while. But I kept coming back into the rooms of my recovery program, searching for that magic bullet. The one that wouldn’t kill me in the end.
There were many reasons I couldn’t get sober: I was very social, and my social group liked to drink; I “wasn’t ready;”; I used alcohol to deal with anxiety and stress in my life; and the most potent, fear, a big fat FOMO. The one thing that kept rattling through my head was, “I can’t imagine not drinking at my kids’ weddings!”
Well, if I’m honest, this is what would have happened if I drank at my daughter’s wedding: I would have started with the champagne early, as the bride and bridesmaids got ready for the ceremony. I would have done shots of whiskey with the groomsmen. I would have made sure the bar was open as people gathered for the ceremony. I would have been worried about when I would get my next drink rather than paying attention to the ceremony. I would have eagerly grabbed a celebratory drink after the ceremony while the photographer snapped family photos. Then the reception would have started and by then, I’m certain that I would have been a wobbling, blathering and most troubling, an embarrassing mother-of-the-bride. I would have eventually thrown up in the corner of the reception tent, passed out and missed most of my daughter’s special day.
I know because that seemed to happen at every wedding I used to attend.
But it didn’t happen at my kids’ weddings. I managed to conquer, or am conquering, all those obstacles. Going on nine years of sobriety, I’ve beat up on a lot of my fears. My friends don’t care what I drink, as long as we can hang out and have fun. In fact, recently, my friend Lori pulled me aside and said, “It’s good to have you back.”
At midlife, I found myself ready. I am dealing with my anxiety and panic issues in healthy ways. And while I still suffer FOMO about a lot of things, drinking at my children’s weddings isn’t one of them.
As I looked over my daughter’s wedding photographs, I saw a beautiful bride floating through her day. I saw her tall, handsome groom shed tears like a baby – just like the rest of her family. I saw a tall greyish-haired distinguished man – my husband – escorting my baby girl down the aisle. And I saw a woman in a rose-colored dress who couldn’t stop smiling, flitting from group to group, seeming to be having the time of her life. It was me, and I was having the time of my life. And remembering every moment.
Then I looked through pictures of my son’s wedding 18 months before, and I saw that same smiling woman hugging a brown-eyed handsome man – my son – after we did a mother-son dance to John Fogarty’s “Centerfield.” That was one of the best baseball moments of my life. Other pictures of me are blurry because I was dancing with my friends and family – this time in a blue dress. I was having a wonderful time, and so was my son, as he married the love of his life. I was there, present and sober for every moment.
Ironically, both of those kids’ weddings were wine-themed. It didn’t bother me at all. As long as I had my own drink of choice – usually diet coke and grenadine – I was fine. No FOMO. No fear. Just the sheer enjoyment of the occasion.
I don’t know how I got here, except the old cliché, one day at a time. (And, of course, super make-up artists, false eyelashes and killer dresses.)
My kids’ weddings weren’t something to fear anymore. They were pure joy.
And luckily, I have one more kid waiting in the wings whose wedding may be the best one yet, once he decides to settle down. He’s only 25. But I think I’ll wear a silver dress. false eyelashes, and a huge, genuine sober smile. And no vomiting, at least on my part.
I conquered the fear of not drinking at my children’s weddings – they ended up being two of the happiest days of my life.