On June 20th, my youngest daughter married her best friend on the grounds of Patrick Henry College. By a pond on a sweltering hot day, two became one and pledged to love, honor and cherish one another until death parts them. These are big promises and these moments so significant, it seems difficult to take it all in. Her wedding made me think of my family and how grateful I am for the years spent with her and her siblings at home. They were meager years financially where we struggled to make ends meet, but it was an opportunity to forge relationships that might have otherwise been parsed out teachers and bus drivers and cafeteria workers. In my blog I wanted to share my wedding toast as mother of the bride.
When a child is born, no mother knows what this little person whose life will be so intertwined with your own will bring into your world. Motherhood ask us to hold burdens and joys and only time reveal the full scope this tiny one will ask you to hold. As I was preparing this toast, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the ways we *hold* our children:
First, we have a baby to hold. We hold them close to feed them, protect them, nurture them, and because the sound of our heartbeat is the most comforting sound in the world to them.
As they grow a little, a little voice turns to us and says “hold me mommy”. They ask us to hold them when they’re scared, we hold their hands to keep them safe while crossing the street, and we lift them high to get a better view. While we are holding them, we learn there is few things better than the feeling of their chubby little arms around our necks.
When they become teenagers, they may not let us hold them in public, but occasionally on their own terms, they may lay their heads across our lap so we can stroke their hair or rub their back when they aren’t feeling well or when something in this world has broken their hearts.
It seems that just when you’ve gotten used to all this holding, you’re asked to let them go. But if I have to let go, there is a comfort in knowing the one I give her to loves her as I do. He knows her strengths and her weaknesses. Through the years I have seen him selflessly put her needs above her own as I pray she will always do for him. I have watched them build a friendship and partnership that has stood the test of time. I have watched them honor the Lord in how they have lived their lives and pray that will continue to bless them for the coming years.
These are happy times for a family and challenging moments for a mother’s heart who feels joy and grief simultaneously. The joy comes in knowing that this is one of the spectacular life moments to which you have looked forward and a tinge grief in knowing their childhood with you is over, and it all went way too fast.
I found it no coincidence that the pastor used the same verse that was on my heart as I tried to ready it for the big day.
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.