Superstition

We stood waiting for the brides to return from their 2nd jaunt of picture taking.

Me: I remember when I was a flower girl, and I was so hungry waiting to get pictures done and over with. When I got married, I didn’t any one to suffer like that, so the ex and I met with the photographer two days before the wedding to take as many couple wedding pictures we could.

A bridesmaid: Really? You were ok with that?

Me: Sure. The ex was worried about seeing me in the wedding dress before the wedding, but I’m not superstitious. What’s the worst that could- damnit!

The Ring Bearer Ninja

We arrived at the Victorian manor with its beautiful grounds half manicured, half wild.  After much discussing, messing around, walking, we settled down to rehearse.  My brother T decided to give Evan a pep talk, where Evan walked away, deciding that exploring the plants where more exciting than discussing ring bearing.

T wondered over to me.  “Well, we’ll leave it up in the air for tomorrow.  If he doesn’t want to do it, then he won’t have to.”

“I don’t think so.  If he doesn’t do it, you owe me 50 bucks, dude.  EVAN!”

So I set Evan up half way up the walk as the bridesmaids and bride where to walk up a lawn and steps to another lawn.  I agreed with my mom that roughly hewn steps were not a good idea for a little ring bearer to use and keep the rings on the pillow.  I handed my purse to Evan, telling him to pretend it was the pillow with the rings.  As the flower girl and her mother, the matron of honor, headed up the walk, I instructed Evan to walk carefully to stand by Uncle M.

Evan walked ever so slow.  He chose his steps with great care.  After the agonizing walk, he stood by his beloved Uncle M.  Where the purse slid from his hands.  “OH NO!” Evan said in horror.  I picked up the purse and handed it back to Evan.  While the rest of the party went through it only once, I had Evan walk through it three times.

As we waited for the release to go to dinner, Evan started helping the flower girl pick leaves to fill her bucket.

The rehearsal dinner was a lobster feast, where friends of the family had donated several days to catch lobsters.  I feasted on shrimp as one does not find it very much in the desert.  While we were all stuffed on the food, they brought a delicious cake cover in chocolate covered strawberries.  In the meantime, the flower girl, who was two and a half, Evan and Sean played with the beach balls I had brought to keep them occupied.  It is there, under pine trees and mosquitoes, that Evan lost his heart.

At the wedding, Evan and I waited near the path, beside the stairs, behind the chairs.  We watched the girls pass one by one as I held the pillow with the rings secured with knots.  When it was Evan’s turn, I placed the pillow in his hands, slipping them through the ribbon to make it less likely for him to drop it.  Evan looked up at me and said in a quiet voice, “I can’t do this.”

It was Evan’s turn.  “Yes, you can,” I whispered back.  I gave Evan a nudge down the aisle.  He took deliberate, slow steps, holding the pillow in a way that tested the knots so that all could see the rings dangling from the ribbon.  The flower girl and her mother caught up with Evan before he was even half way down the aisle. 

Evan reached the end where Uncle M removed the rings and pocketed them.  Evan stood there still with his serious face on.  It looked like he was pouting and scowling at the same time. 

I sat down in the front row next to my parents and The Husband, who held Sean.  We waited for Evan to get tired, so we could usher him to our seats.  Instead Sean realized his brother and beloved uncle where standing just a yard from him.  Sean slid out of The Husbands lap and joined Evan and Uncle M in the line.  While Evan stood statue still, Sean had to move when he’s happy, so he danced.  He completely charmed the photographer.  I lured him away with fruit snacks.

As weddings and receptions go, it was fine and beautiful.  But it was there I realized what will tear asunder my boys.  A Girl.

Evan chased the flower girl, wanting to hug her and dance with her.  The flower girl wanted nothing to do with Evan; instead, she preferred to chase Sean to hug him and dance with him.  “I just want to touch him.”  Sean, in turn, wanted nothing to do with this girl, pushing her away, hitting her when she didn’t get the point.  Evan remained heart-broken through the night, bursting in tears at the end, when the girl wouldn’t dance with him yet again.  By that time, I felt it was time to wrap things up and get out of there.

As we drove home to the hotel, we asked Evan what his favorite part of the wedding was.  “Natalie.”  Ah, young love.

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A Childhood Memory

The first wedding I ever attended I was three.  I was also the flower girl.  My dad’s younger sister was getting married to a really sweet and fun man.  I was excited because I was the flower girl.

My mom made my dress.  It was long to my feet, but it didn’t twirl.  It was white with tiny pink rose buds.  Around my waist were two thin pink ribbons.  I was adorable with blue eyes and curled blonde hair.

But I was barely three.  After I had done my duty, I was to walk back to my mom who was suppose to be sitting on the side waiting for me.  She wasn’t there.  Some usher had moved her.  But I knew what I was suppose to do, and I saw my mom raise her hand so I could find her.  As I started down the stairs, a firm hand pressed on my shoulder.  I looked up at the face of my youngest aunt who sternly shook her head.  I pointed to my mom, and my aunt shook her head.

So I stood there.  Bored.  Oh so bored.  Grown-ups talk to much.  I never stood for so long.  I sat.  Then I laid down.  Then I decided I wanted to see my new shiny black shoes.  Hey, my feet look like they’re walking on the ceiling.  I wonder what it would be like walking on the ceiling. 

Everyone at church watched as two Mary Jane-d feet kicked in the air, just high enough for everyone to notice.

That is the part none of my little cousins forget to tell.  They tell it with glee, especially to The Husband, especially when I brought him home for the first time.

Hey, I was three.  I was adorable.  And I can still wrestle you all to the ground.

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Rings, Tuxes, and Weddings

I’ve might have mentioned my brother is getting married this summer in New Hampshire.  We’re all excited because we love his bride.  (Hi, K!)  Rumors were abound over a ring bearer as my soon-to-sister-in-law has a niece who was born in between my boys.  So a few months ago, my brother called me.

T: So, um, do you think Tornado E would want to be the ring bearer?

Me: How about this?  You tell me if you want him to be the ring bearer, and we’ll psych him up for the gig if you do.

T: Ok, we want Tornado E to be the ring bearer.

Me: You weren’t going to tie a pillow on Larkin’s head and have him come down the aisle.

T: No.

Me: Really?

T: No.

Me: Then why are you bringing the dog to the wedding?

T: It’s a long story.

Me: Boys, watch some cartoons.  I have time.

So Tornado E is supposed to be the ring bearer, but he would rather be Master Crane.  Whatever.  Now I could go into more gossipy information here, but K occasionally reads my blog, and I wouldn’t want her to think I’m always picking on T (no matter how much he deserves it).

A month or so ago, T showed up at my parents’ house to pick up the invites and discuss the ring pillow with my mom, who is making it.  My mom and I could not be bothered as we were in a death race for our lives called Mario Go-Kart.

T: Fae, I’ve been thinking.  We’ve been thinking.  Tornado E is at a very independent stage right now.  So we don’t know if he’ll be manageable.  So we were thinking maybe Tornado S would be better.

Me: Stupid Baby Mario!  What?  You don’t want that.  Tornado E can take direction.  He’ll be excited to do it.  With Tornado S, we would have to tie a cookie on a string and pull it down the aisle to get him to do it.

T: I don’t know-

Mom: Stupid Babies!

Me: I know.  They’re ruthless.

T: Are you sure?

Mom: Yes.  Don’t you remember when Fae was Tornado S’s age, she was the flower girl to your Aunt’s wedding?  The maid of honor wouldn’t let her go back to my seat for the ceremony, so half way though the wedding, all you could see was two little Mary Jane’s kicking in the air.

Me: It wasn’t my fault.  Another Blue Shell!!

Mom: So Tornado S is too young-

Me: Unless you want both boys.

T: No, Tornado E will be fine.

Me: And you’ll have to send Tornado E and K’s niece to sit during the wedding.

T: It’s only a half hour ceremony.

Me: Go!  Go!  Go!  Yes!  A half an hour is a long time for little ones to stand.

Mom: Trust me and send them to their moms for the ceremony.

T: Oh, all right.

Me: Dang. I spun out on that start.

Mom: I was wondering where you went.

Me: Ha.

T: Uh, Fae.  Um, you might want to have Mom make Tornado E’s tux.

Me: What?  Why?

T: Well, the tux I want him to wear is 149 dollars.

Me:  WHAT?

Mom: You fell into the drink.

Me: ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE DOLLARS!  For a tux?  For a three-year-old!

Mom: He’ll be four.  Wait!  You and your groom’s men aren’t wearing tuxes.

T: No.  But we want Tornado E in one.  With tails.

Me: What?

T: Do you think he’ll wear a top hat?

Me: Are you?  Is M?

T: No.

Me: No.  Let’s get back to the 149 dollars.

T: Well, I looked around and that’s how much it costs to rent it.

Me: To RENT IT?!  Where the he-  Where did you go?

T: That’s why I think you should have Mom make it.

Me: On top of the ring pillow, the banner and her dress.

T: Mom, you’re making your dress!  What happen to the one you were going to buy?

Mom: It sold out.  I won!

Me: I stopped playing.

T: I think you should ask Mom.

Me: Mom, how hard would it be to make Tornado E’s tux.

Mom: Well, it’ll be a little hard with the cuffs and lining and everything.  I could do it.

T: See, Mom can do it.

Me: I don’t know.  You said a black tux with tails?

T: Yes.  With a cream vest and bow tie.

Me: (roll of eyes) Give me a minute.  Mom, may I please borrow your computer.

Few words typed into the search engine, a few clicks of the mouse, I returned to the room.

Me: 50 bucks.  You want to see if I found the right one.

T: 50 bucks?  Really?

Me: Yup.  To own.

T: That’s the one.

Me: I guess Tornado S is going to have a very formal fourth Christmas.

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Flanagan vs working moms and housewives

The problem with Caitlin Flanagan’s The Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing your Inner Housewife is Flanagan demonizes both working and stay-at-home mothers.  She wants to be considered fulfilled and important by being a working mother, but she also wants to create a home atmosphere where she stays to cook dinners and be there for her family.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have it all.  The problem lies that she holds working mothers in contempt because they miss that close bond with their children and believes stay-at-home moms are selfishly demanding me-time from their families, not caring to do the housework or even the mother work.  She believes in a simpler time when housewives were competent, content women who knew how to make a house a home.  This time never existed.

 

Her first look at the culture of marriage is through the bridal magazines, and she sees a world of inflated dreams crushing the very union of marriage.  She’s right.  But she tends to blame feminism for killing the wedding ceremony, leaving the American culture without any understanding of what the ceremony actually means.  Feminism did not kill weddings.  Materialism did.  Watch just one episode of Bridezilla, and you’ll understand that there is something very wrong with the institute of marriage.  Flip through a bridal magazine, and it will whisper of elegant dresses, extravagant dishes, and exotic locals.  The wedding industry cajoles, seduces, pushes weddings to be ever bigger because that is their business, to make weddings a significant occasion with a very significant price tag.  It is the savvy marketing that appeals to the very selfish, self-centered, greedy part of our society.  It is the dream that every girl is a princess, and every bride should have her dream.  Flanagan is right is laughable to see these women walk down the aisle in white dresses, forgetting that this is to symbolize virginity, but Flanagan forgets the white wedding dress only came to popularity with Queen Victoria’s wedding, when before any beautiful dress would do.  We are losing our bridal rituals, but we aren’t losing it to feminism.

 

While I have already discussed Flanagan’s views on the sexless marriage, I will just touch on them briefly.  Flanagan believes women are refusing sex in a passive aggressive way because they are doing all the work.  Because it’s the women’s fault for doing all the work, it is her problem to fix and mend.  I don’t agree at all. I think it’s a two person problem; therefore, it should be fixed by two people.  Another problem with this chapter is her first mention that if men started doing the housework like we women would like (cleaning up the crumbs after the dishes, putting notes in with the kid’s lunches, ironing curtains), men would be demasculinized in our eyes.  Ha.  I know plenty of men that help out with the housework, and they are still very much men.  I would almost bet they are getting more sex than the men I know who don’t help around the house.  Not only can we not keep our men satisfies, we apparently can’t keep a clean, orderly house either.

 

While Flanagan assumed stay-at-home moms could satisfy their men more than working mothers, she believes both women fail miserably when it comes to making a house a home.  Working mothers just pass on these chores to cleaning women, and so does the average stay-at-home mom.  Well, that was news to me.  I can’t even think of another stay-at-home mom that hired a cleaning person (well, except me, for three months after Tornado E’s birth at the insistence of my husband and his administrative assistant.  I fired her as soon as I could figure out how to run the household with a baby).  It is here that I realized the Flanagan is not an average stay-at-home mom, but that she had the means to do more and that she didn’t actually understand the plight of ordinary women.  According the Flanagan, stay-at-home moms go to the movies, the spa, to book clubs, leaving the house work to others, not even knowing the price of milk.  I am certain that most women, especially those who stay at home, do their own house cleaning, do the shopping with a budget, mend shirts, and all the other day to day things that Flanagan loves but never does.  She doesn’t understand the tedium of housework because she never did it.  She NEVER did it.  At this point, Flanagan should be fired as a sage for housewives.

 

Then Flanagan moves on to discussing child rearing.  After a chapter discussing the use of nannies in Victorian England, she then has a chapter about her nanny hired to take care of her sons because all the other stay-at-home moms have one.  Really?  Another interesting fact.  From the look of the blogs out there, most of us can’t find a decent sitter for a measly night out with or without a husband much less another set of hands to take care of the children five days a week.  In this chapter she talks about how inadequate she feels with her babies, and thank god her nanny is so good.  The rest of us mothers out there have felt our moments of inadequacy deep to the soul, and we dealt with it and moved on.  We were the ones that took care of the sick child, changing the sheets, bathing the child, calming the child, not someone else.  Flanagan also mentions how she wanted someone in the house to make it loving and warm, like her mother used to do.  That’s your job now, Mrs. Housewife.  We all miss our mothers taking care of us.  We make the bed so that we can return to it feeling warm and clean.  We cook cookies to eat the dough and have the smell run through the house because it reminds us of home.  Flanagan does not understand the desperate act of mothering. 

 

 

Flanagan is looking for a reason why she feels incompetent.  She finds it in the fact the feminism robbed women of home ec and the knowledge that we would be homemakers, important and loved.  She sees that mothers run after their children, taking them to every activity that can be crammed into their children’s lives, paying homage to the domestic goddess of Martha Stewart, and becoming addicted to organizing and decluttering.  Again I see these as symptoms of materialism and advertising.  Nothing can sell a parent better than the threat that their children may not be using their full potential; hence why many kids have several activities on their plate.  But this has been happening for some time.  My brothers and I were in scouts, volleyball, basketball, softball or baseball, swimming lessons.  If we could have afforded it we would have had music lessons.  My father and his siblings all took various music lessons and did various sports.  The fact that Americans have raised this to a new level of fanaticism is just yet another marketing scheme, trying to take money from parents who are trying to make prodigies or at least make them well-rounded enough to get into a good college.  As long as these activities are done to moderation, then why not schlep a kid around because we are yearning for a better life for that child. 

 

As for Martha Stewart and organization, I feel that Flanagan is right to believe this is a call for a simpler time.  Martha Stewart shows off peace and beauty as unattainable as that is in a house full of kids.  We yearn for a more organized home that runs efficiently leaving us time to redecorate, bake, or just plain relax.  It just makes sense that a busy mother would want this.  But I doubt that every household in those bygone days looked like the Cleaver’s or the Nelson’s.  Kids back then were much like kids today, tornadoes.  I think we set the bar too high to expect a perfectly manicured house while raising sweet, smart, clean kids.  Even my grandma didn’t believe in keeping an immaculate house unless company demands it.  Really Flanagan is living in a different world than what the rest of us live in, one with hired help.

 

The vary essence of this book is Caitlin Flanagan not realizing that housewives back then felt the same way as stay-at-home mothers today.  She even quotes Erma Bombeck as saying she went to see Betty Friedan just to get out of the day’s house work, but Flanagan fails to realize what Bombeck said.  To get out of the house work.  In Flanagan’s mind those fifties and sixties were a time where women were competent and confident in their roles of housewife, not minding the tediousness of the chores that had to be done and redone every day.  Flanagan is looking to understand why she isn’t like that, and because she lost her mother before her boys were older than five, Flanagan never had the same talks that I had with my mom, where my mom admits to being just as confused and anxious as I am.  Flanagan wants to be like her mom but fails because she doesn’t understand her “inner housewife.”  Maybe she doesn’t understand it because she’s never done it.  She instead vilifies all women in what they are trying to do, encouraging them to give up on their dreams of having it all and sending their children to private universities.  I guess Susan Jane Gilman is right.  We’re all the fashion police.