I have always known I was blessed in the privilege of our children - not just that they exist but in who they are and how they live. And now, our second son -- our baby, has announced that he's engaged. We are crazy about his fiance and thrilled with their decision; there's no "but..." or "except for."
What there is, though, is something more complicated.
When our older son got married, it was all new and we were preoccupied with how to behave and (not altogether successfully) not get in the way. Now we're veterans. We share the joy, we like the in-laws, we understand that there will be glitches en route to the big day.
What we also know, this time, is that when a son is married, a parent must step back. In many ways it's the parents of sons who "give away" their child. My dad used to tell me when I called from our first home that I was doing what I was supposed to do - even in Genesis - that the family my husband and I were creating was where my loyalty must lie. Only now, when it's too late to talk to him about it, do I realize how unselfish he was being -- offering me the freedom I needed, not wanting me to be torn between my feelings for my parents and those for my husband.
It feels to me, though, that sons need to be able to detach more, even in the most modern of marriages. People joke about parents of the groom just "showing up and looking great" but it's so much more than that, and it doesn't really hit you until it happens.
If you're Jewish, both parents walk their child down the aisle, and stand at their side as they are married. All of a sudden, you see this child -- this man -- take the hand of his wife, and they are a family too. Still loving their parents, still caring and considerate, but their own. It's right -- it's how it's supposed to be, but it is also an enormous change. And the best wedding gift is to make sure it happens.
All the stupid "Sunrise, Sunset" lyrics are true. The kid in my favorite, day he was born eyelock photo, who was Agent Cooper on Halloween when he was 7, who got a blister on his thumb from playing so much the week he first got his Nintendo, who bore with grace some of our family's toughest years -- will be a married man.
Nothing in life is quite like knowing your child has found a life partner worthy of him -- that they are worthy of one another. It's a blessing. Really. It's also a moment of huge transition and we move toward it with gratitude, determined to offer this cherished child the same gift my father gave to me.>
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