Don’t be fooled by the MOB.

Well, the wedding has come and gone.  Phew!


Don't mistake this look for serenity.

Don’t mistake this look for serenity.

This seems like a good time to give you an insightful glimpse into the mind of the MOB (which is what they call you for a about a year before the event in which you will be the “Mother of the Bride”.)

For some of you, it may be helpful to learn about what happens in the mind of the MOB as the big day approaches; after all, a lot of you will be a MOB yourself before too long!

For others, this post may help you to cope when your own wife/mother/sister/friend becomes a MOB.

And the rest of you will probably just laugh and think, “Thank God this will never happen to me because  a) I am a man; b) I am never ever ever planning to have a kid;   c) I am an old lady raising cats who now feels a lot better about my life choices.”

The pressures on the MOB before the wedding cannot possibly be overstated.  This is especially true if the bride is a mature, independent, capable young woman who doesn’t need or want you to do much.  At first this will seem like a blessing, but as the wedding day gets closer and closer, you will begin to wish that you had been included in every single tiny detail.

You see, the week before the wedding, people will start to ask you a lot of questions that you can’t answer, so you immediately go into a panic.  Kind of like this:

“What are the groomsmen wearing?”   “Um…..pants?”

“What time will the caterer arrive?”  “Not sure. In time to cook!”

“Where should we put all the wine?”  “Ah…I…um…just leave it with me.”

You’ll also start waking up in the middle of the night (as the day gets closer, the wake-ups happen more often.  By the night before the rehearsal, you’ll wake up every 14 seconds). You will be jolted out of sleep by burning questions like, “What if a sudden tornado blows through and everyone is lifted up and dropped over Kansas?”  and “What if I fall off the dance floor?!!”  In the brief periods where you do sleep, you will be overwhelmed by nightmares featuring giant black bears invading the wedding venue, drunken Uncles brawling on the porch, and suddenly realizing that you are on the dance floor stark naked.

What this all means, of course, is that by the time everyone you know and love appears in a giant throng to take endless pictures of you, will look like a refugee from a war zone. The bags under your eyes will be bigger than the big white wedding tent.  Your hands will shake, and the golden tan that you so carefully worked on last week will have faded to the color of pasty oatmeal.  This is the image that you will have of yourself:

The internal MOB.

The internal MOB.

In spite of all the stress, though, the big day will eventually come. You’ll carefully pack every single item that you or the bride could possibly want or need, and head off for the weekend.  You’ll arrive at the hotel that you chose months ago, only to find that there are no more “non-smoking rooms” available, and that you and your kids are booked into “rooms-so-filled-with-smoke-that-we-offer-free-asthma-inhalers”.  You’ll do your best to put a positive spin on the situation, telling yourself that it will be awesome to sound like Lauren Bacall at your daughter’s wedding, and ignoring the fact that you will smell like Humphrey Bogart at your daughter’s wedding.

You’ll go to the rehearsal with your family and the wedding party, where (if you are half as lucky as we were) the wonderful minister will manage to keep everyone under control long enough to do a run through of the event before they dive into the Irish Whiskey. You and the MOG (figure it out, people) will gulp your wine and compare notes on your respective neuroses.  You’ll try to figure out if its a good thing or a bad thing that you’re both having nightmares about black bears.  You’ll reassure each other a thousand times that “everything will be fine!”

And then the wedding day will dawn.  You’ll drink four gallons of water because your throat is so dry from nerves.  But you will immediately realize that you’ll have to pee 700 times before the ceremony. You are a middle aged woman.  This can be a problem. This fact will make you more nervous, meaning you’ll need more water. You will wonder when you can switch to wine.

You’ll take the kids out to breakfast at a cute little diner where everyone moves at roughly the speed of a melting glacier.  Your face will smile and chat with the family, but your brain will run a constant loop of reminders: “flowers, basket for flower girl, petals for basket, gift for the bride, make-up, computer for the music, deodorant, green tablecloth….flowers, basket for flower girl….”  

Even though you know that you have brought every single thing you could possibly need for the celebration, the bride will text you to ask you to stop for hairpins and cold cuts. You’ll be happy to have something constructive to do as the clock inexorably ticks down toward the ceremony, but you’ll have a mini-panic attack when you realize that you’re in a far off land where you don’t exactly how to find a grocery store or a CVS. Lucky for you, the young people at the table know how to use an iPhone, and you’ll plan out your route.

At last, at last, the time will come for you to rush frantically back to the hotel to get dressed and ready.  This is a day that you have dreamed of for years.  Your emotions are on high.  You and the FOB keep looking at each other with sappy grins.  The two of you share memories of the cute little girls who once played “brides” together on your lawn, and who will now fulfill the roles of Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor and (gulp) Bride.  Your nerves begin to settle, and you are filled with love and appreciation for the wonderful privilege of seeing your daughter married to a man who loves her to distraction.

You will step into the shower, humming the song that will always make you think of your baby girl and how intensely you will always love her.

Then you’ll step out of the shower and think to yourself, “What kind of freakin’ idiot thought it was a good idea to put a full size mirror opposite the shower?” 

Just remember, no one has ever said, “It was a great wedding, except for that scab on the MOB’s elbow.”  You and the MOG were right; everything will in fact be fine. Everyone will smile, and hug and wipe away tears as the truly happy couple exchanges vows. You’ll dance and sing together, you’ll toast each other, you’ll introduce your friends to your family.  It will be incredible.

And at the end of the night, your beautiful daughter will kiss you and thank you and say, “Mom, this was so perfect! Thank you!”

Oh, Shenandoah


A million or so years ago, my young husband and I took a drive down South.  We wanted to visit some college campuses, because we were looking for graduate schools.  We made some appointments, got into our old brown Toyota Corolla and headed South.

We stopped in New Jersey, on the very day of Bruce Springsteen’s 31st birthday.  We went on to Delaware, to Maryland, and then to Virginia.  We camped, in Shenandoah National Park, in a place called “Big Meadow”.

We were young, and open and ready for the world to show us what it had to offer.   Shenandoah showed us mountains, and fields and deer and music and a gentle beauty that we could not forget.

We went back there, of course.  We stayed in a cozy cottage for two, in the fall. We watched the sun set over those mountains. We walked at dawn in a dewy field filled with does and fawns.

And we returned, first with our little girl, showing her the rosy light of dawn in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We brought her hiking, taught her to pick blueberries and raspberries in the wide, wild field.  We fed her pancakes and bacon in the homey restaurant of the Big Meadow Lodge on Skyline Drive.

We came back again, with her brothers. Camping on the edge of the Appalachian Trail, singing with the guitarist in the lodge, walking the wide meadow at sunset, hiking the beautiful trails.

And every time we’ve been there, every memory that our family has made there, has had a soundtrack that has run beneath it all.  The songs have changed as we have grown and changed. But one song has been there through it all.

“Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you

Away, you rolling river.”

In a few days, my daughter will be married.  That little girl who I held on my hip as we watched the sunset on the Shenandoah Valley will bind her hand and her life to her love, and will become a married woman.

At some point during the celebration, she will stand and walk to her father, who will take her hand in his.  They will smile, and embrace, and dance together as they both think back on the history of all that they have shared.  The song will be “Shenandoah”, by Van Morrison.


Listen to this, and think of us: Shenandoah

Hoo, boy

I’m losing my ever loving mind.  I am.

I am the “MOB”, the “Mother of the Bride”,  and I am having a breakdown.  I actually did pretty well for the first eleven months of this engagement.  Honest!  I was very calm and collected.

Of course, that’s probably because my daughter is the “anti-bride”.  She is completely relaxed about the whole thing and couldn’t be less demanding.

Its a hippy wedding, for goodness sake!  The bride and groom met when they were arrested together with Occupy Wall Street.  We’re having the wedding at a farm that his family owns, under a rented tent, with tons of wine and beer and delicious catered barbecue. We’re going to dance and be silly.  The flowers are coming from a local farm stand. The bride is wearing green and the groom is wearing shorts.

So why, you may ask yourself, is the MOB having a freak out?  Well……….

Just because, I guess!

I have a beautiful embroidered linen outfit to wear, some pretty jewelry, some new sandals.  The music is set. I talked to the caterer to finalize the appetizers.  I talked to the farmer to finalize the flowers.

I’m getting a hair cut two days before the event, so I won’t be shaggy but the little pointy bits will have calmed down. I hope.  I even bought (gasp) new eye makeup!

Then I looked at my hands.

Holy hangnails.  What a mess!!

What should I do?!  Do I keep my hands behind my back all day?  Do I get a manicure? What the hell is a manicure, anyway? What would I have to do? What’s “gel”?  Would I be able to take it off after the wedding, or would I be compelled to go back every two weeks for the rest of my natural life?  What a commitment!!

If you think I’m being ridiculous….take a look at this.  This is the real me!  Holy God.

Jeez. What you you do to make her look presentable?

Jeez. What would you do to make her look presentable?

Sigh.  Good thing the bride is gorgeous………

Turn around…….

unnamedI am in that very strange, surreal space that descends upon parents when their babies are about to get married.

Two weeks from today, our oldest child, our only daughter, will be married.

She is an adult. A professional.  A strong, independent, capable woman.  She is more than ready to be married.

Wait, what? No she’s NOT!  For God’s sake, she was just born about a month ago! I can still remember every pain, every push, every ear infection, every diaper.   What do you mean she’s ready to get married?   No, no, no!!!! Every milestone in her life flashes before my eyes.   I see her playing “wedding” with our next door neighbor. I see her getting on the big yellow bus for the first time. I see her first date, her first job, her first day of college…….

She is marrying a great guy.  He is smart, lots of fun, and he clearly loves my daughter to pieces.

Hold it!  He’s a BABY!  Is he even old enough to shave? (OK, well he has an absolutely epic beard, but that was just a euphemism.) How can this boy be the future father of my future grandchildren?  What?!

The wedding is all planned, all ordered, all pretty much set to go.  Kate has her dress, I have mine. The food is ordered, the tent is ordered, the music is being organized.  Kate and Sam are all set for decorations, for rings, for flowers.  The wine is ready to go, sitting in its cases in my basement.  The kegs are on order.

Now all we have to do is wait.

And think, and ruminate, and dream that she is a baby again, held in my arms.  All we have to do is blink hard, admit that time has flown more quickly than we could ever have predicted.  Admit that this day is really, truly coming.  Our baby girl will be beautiful and radiant. She will walk with us toward her young man, and they will bind their hands and their lives together.

All we have to do is keep our eyes fixed firmly on the future, never acknowledging the pull of the past.

When she was very little, I would sing this song to Katie, and she would hold her hands on my cheeks as I cried.

Where are you going, my little one, little one?

Where are you going, my baby own?

Turn around and you’re tall,

Turn around and your grown.

Turn around and you’re a young wife

with babes of your own.

How can this day be here?

A VERY serious side note

Today was my daughter’s bridal shower.

It should have been a perfect day.

The very happy couple.

The very happy couple.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  The sky was blue, the sun was warm and the breeze was fresh and clean.  My slightly disorganized garden was blooming and bright, the color of the rhododendron blossoms nearly matching the wrapping paper from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

My beautiful girl was in her glory; gorgeous in a long yellow dress, she was basking in the attention of so many friends and relatives who love her.  Her handsome almost husband was charming and smiling and full of fun as he introduced his family to hers.

It should have been a perfect day.

Everyone had fun. The food was abundant and delicious.  The gifts were generous and incredibly thoughtful, and everyone was impressed with the wonderful start that our kids were given on married life.

Yes.  It should have been perfect.


Eventually, the day came to a close, and the guests began to make their way to their cars. As usual when a big Italian party winds down, there were leftovers to disperse. And that was when the trouble began.

Oh, its not what you think. There were more than enough grilled sausages to send home for everyone, and more than enough rolls to hold them.  There was enough pasta salad and potato salad and orzo salad to sink a small ship.  There was leftover mac and cheese (Holy cheesy goodness, that Reverend can cook!), leftover baked beans, leftover cupcakes and pie and brownies and cookies.

It wasn’t a fight over the good stuff that made the day a less than perfect success.

No, my friends. It wasn’t any human issue that caused the day to end on a sour note. Nope.

It was the damn Tupperware.  Or Rubbermaid.  Or Snap N Go.

It was the desperate and impossible task of searching for matching containers and lids that almost made me toss a saucepan through a window.

There I was, trying to thank everyone, clean up the dining room and quickly pack up little batches of goodies to take home.  I’d reach into the container drawer, grab a 3 in by 4 in rectangular container. I’d fill it up with potato salad and grab for a 3 in by 4 in rectangular lid.  Oops.  Nope. Wrong shape. This one has a slightly rounded corner.  Reach back into the drawer, while attempting to chat with the relatives around me. Pull out another rectangular lid.  Nope. This one has sharp corners.

I tried round Tupperwares with round Rubbermaid lids. Nope.  I tried round Rubbermaids with round Tupperware lids. Nopienopenope.  I eventually gave up, and tried to pack the goods into recycled yogurt containers.


Who knew that a Stonyfield Farm container wouldn’t be a good match with a Chobani lid?


I know that there are many issues in the world for us to be worried about right now. Violence and civil war in Iraq. The rapidly rising seas.  The missing honeybees and monarch butterflies. Dick Cheney still getting airtime on national networks.

Still, if you ask me, the biggest problem facing the world today is the lack of uniformity in leftover container law.

If I am ever appointed as Queen of the World (What? It could happen.), the first thing that I would do is pass the “Every container has to match its lid” law.  There would be ONE set of containers, and only ONE. Each lid would be marked with a symbol that would match it with its container partner.

Anyone who created a leftover container that did not follow these specifications would be thrown in jail for a thousand years. If he tried to escape, he would be fed to an angry alligator.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

I know that we all fear and loathe big government, and we don’t want more regulation. But let me say this about that: You can take the government out of education, out of religious worship, out of marriage, out of health care.  Whatevah.   But it is definitely time for us to have leaders who are willing to take on the difficult question of container-lid misfitting.

The madness must stop.

A hard working middle class American woman should be able to throw her daughter a bridal shower without having to panic about the lack of a lid to fit on the containers of leftover home made baked beans with maple syrup.

Enough is enough. Fellow American women, we must act now.

The Beauty of A Beautiful Ceremony

This the summer of weddings for Paul and I.  We have reached the age where the children of our friends are beginning to marry, but we are also colleagues and friends with young people who are taking the big step. Between June and October, we will be attending six different weddings.  Six!

While all of this nuptial joy can be expensive (think new dress, new shoes, shower gift, travel costs, wedding gift…..!) and a little tiring, it is also the most incredible reaffirmation of the power of human love.  Next to the welcoming  of new life (which I suspect will be happening in droves in a year or so…!), participating in a wedding is the most touching of social rituals.  I love the whole thing!

Every wedding is unique, which is part of the fun.  Our weddings this summer will include an outdoor Orthodox Jewish ceremony on a farm, a backyard secular ceremony in the Maine countryside, a formal Catholic ceremony at a grand hotel, a semi formal morning wedding at a country club and two more traditional church and reception weddings.  They are all different in tone, style, menu, music and guest lists.  One was even in another language, requiring us to read the translations in the books.

But they all share a common core, a common heart, a common purpose.

And this commonality is what I love.

It is not the chance to dress up fancy that makes weddings so special to me. It’s not the flow of cold crisp wine, the delicious foods or the gorgeous settings.  It isn’t even the chance to dance as if I was still 25, making a happy fool of myself and usually wrenching my back for a good cause.  None of that is what I find so exciting when I open up those wedding invitations.

I am humbled when I am asked to attend the wedding of a friend, or a cousin, or the child of my childhood buddy. I feel pride, and joy and usually some surprise when the brides and grooms reach out to ask me (me!) to be a wedding guest.  I always feel as if the cool kids have invited me to the party!

See, when you go to a wedding, you are participating in an ancient ritual that has existed in every society in the world, since probably about the time when humans emerged from our caves.

When you listen to the service, (even if you don’t know the language!), you are asked to say ritual words, or to sing, or to raise your hands up high, holding them out to form a canopy over the heads of the lovers, blessing them and wishing them joy and prosperity and fertility.

Through these rituals, these words, we are welcoming a new family into the greater family of our community. By raising a glass and shouting  “mazeltov” or “cheers” or “salut” or “slainte”, we are saying, “We are all here to help you, to support you, to get you on the road to a happy future.” By allowing us to participate, the couple is telling us that they are happy and willing to join the community of families, the community of our churches, our towns, our country. Every new family unit strengthens the family of humanity, it seems to me.

I am so happy and proud to have been included in the six weddings of this summer.  Weddings mean hope and love and sharing, and they reinforce my faith in the future.

Why would anyone want to deny these beautiful ceremonies to couples who happen to be of the same gender?