When I was perhaps 9 years old, I received for Christmas — from Santa Claus, presumably, though I already knew better, and even if I hadn’t, this gift would have clued me in — a child-sized version of a buffet set. Made of cream-colored plastic with gilded flourishes on the handles and other opportune spots, it came with fancy plastic plates, teacups, saucers, and silverware, a silver-plated plastic teapot, and, worst of all, silver candlesticks with horrible plastic candles that never seemed able to stand up straight and that could not safely be lit.
I had no idea what to do with it.
I was devoted to my Liddle Kiddles and to the elaborate Kiddle community I had co-created and fostered for years with my best friend, Mary. I loved to read, and I had organized my library according to the Dewey Decimal System. I loved The Monkees and The Partridge Family. I had no use whatsoever for a plastic buffet set.
But I recognized, even at that tender age, that the buffet was really a gift for my mother. A resilient child of the Great Depression, she could never have imagined owning such a spectacular item. But she damned well made sure HER daughter had one.
I got to thinking about that buffet after my own beloved daughter’s wedding, which happened, blissfully and beautifully, this past Sunday. Sophie had always, since she was a little girl, told me she intended to elope, if ever she should marry, so I never, ever spent time envisioning a big wedding or my own role as mother of the bride.
I didn’t play a leading role in planning my own wedding; I tried to make everything convenient for others, and while I wanted to have the ceremony at the chapel on my university campus, I allowed myself to be talked out even of that. Instead of finding my own perfect dress, I wore my mother’s wedding gown — and worried up till the last moment that it might not fit. On my wedding morn, a HUGE zit appeared on my cheek. When my father walked me down the aisle, he lifted my veil, kissed me — and then lowered my veil again! The whole thing was slapstick comedy, and I don’t remember feeling for one moment beautiful.
As it happened, Sophie and Ryan chose to have a small ceremony, just his family and hers, with my son, her brother Charlie, officiating. Everything was to be low-key and low-stress. Yet Sophie insisted on my buying a special mother-of-the-bride dress instead of falling back on my go-to mode, a dress from Target.
Both her dress and mine, ordered online, fit like they were made for us. I loved seeing my daughter all dolled up as a bride, and I enjoyed my appropriate maternal attire. I didn’t get all worked up over the wedding, and I enjoyed it all the more for that. In fact, it was one of the best, happiest, and most relaxed days of my life, and I am thrilled that Sophie and Ryan found one another and have embarked on their happy journey together. I am confident that my level of involvement and excitement was precisely in keeping with Sophie’s needs, hopes, and expectations.
For some reason, though, I woke up the next morning imagining the day my mother got rid of my buffet set. Did she sell it? Did she handle the pieces, one by one, and imagine what it would have felt like if they had been hers? Did she wonder why I had never played with them?
And did she ask herself, I wonder, who is this oddball daughter of mine, who shares so few of my dreams and desires?
Congratulations, Sophie and Ryan!!!! I love you both very much!