I spent this weekend in Louisiana with my son Parker at his best friend’s wedding. The upside is that I got to spend time with my oldest; something that has become increasingly hard to do. The downside is that I am in an airport on Mothers Day.
Mothers Day means a lot to me, but it is bittersweet. We lost my mom when I was 14 and my brothers were 10 and 9. Naturally we didn’t relish that particular day in May. Every commercial or card was a reminder. Things changed when I became a father . . . I gained a whole new perspective. Parker loved looking through the cards and picking out his favorite candy for his mom. That day became a lot less somber for me.
In 2001 Parker’s mother and I divorced. It was painful for him, but he adjusted. We did our best to make sure that he had parents, not just a mom and a dad and he responded well. It never occurred to me that getting a divorce would make Mothers Day a bigger deal. But then, I didn’t know I would meet the lady who would become my wife.
I feel like everything I ever experienced was part of the process that led me to my wife. She was the reason. I knew almost immediately. Luckily she felt kind of the same way or I could have come off as creepy. She and Parker clicked and became fast friends. In March of 2003 she became his stepmother. I have seen the stepparent thing go horribly wrong but my wife pulled it off masterfully. She and Parker’s mom actually co-mommed, which is a tribute to them both. I’m not saying there weren’t some rough spots in the relationship, but isn’t there always? Through the years however, she and Parker formed a special relationship.
I should mention here that I feel like relationships shouldn’t be defined by one day. By that I mean that is you are a jerk the other 364 days, flowers, candy and a sappy Hallmark card on a specific Sunday don’t mean much. Moms are special and chances to show them how special they are should be taken when they occur. Parker chose his wedding to make a very special statement.
Marrying off a child is special kind of experience. It is one more concrete piece of evidence that they aren’t little anymore. Weddings also define relationships. Every person close to the two principals Is assigned a position . . . step parents can be tricky.
Before his wedding Parker asked me about the Mother-Son dance. How should he handle it? How does my wife feel about it? He didn’t want to make assumptions or risk hurt feelings. I told him that it was his day and his moment. I was positive that my wife would want him to have that moment his way. “Just go with your feelings, son,” I told him. We didn’t think about again until the reception and the DJ announced the Mother-Son dance.
Parker led his mother to the dance floor. I am embarrassed to say I don’t remember the song. I wasn’t really listening. I was watching Parker hold his mom while she tried to figure out where the preceding 20-some years went.
Halfway through the song, Parker led his mom to the edge of the dance floor. He kissed her and turned around. He walked across the floor and extended his hand to my wife and smiled at her. She took it and he led her to the middle of the floor and finished the song dancing with his second sobbing woman in a row. At the end he took my wife over to where his mother was standing. The sobbing increased. I figured I would be in charge of tissues but before I fetched them I took a minute to appreciate what I just saw. I saw two strong women, two incredible moms and a very fortunate young man. I have seen step parenting done wrong but these two ladies got it right.
So here I am writing about Mothers Day instead of celebrating with my wife. I cooked up a little surprise for her with Charlie and Eli. Hopefully the boys remember . . . I will send a reminder text soon. I wish I was there. To all the moms in my life, Happy Mothers Day and Happy Mothers Day to every mom out there. I hope your day is special.
Thanks for reading. We’ll see you again soon on This Side of the Diaper.