Brides For A Day, Daughters For Life

I really never wanted  to get married. Well, not never, but I was in no hurry.  My future sister-in-law introduced me to the love of my life when I was 16 and a sophomore in high school.  She was way older, 6 months, and a junior in the same school.  We dated for almost 7 years, until I graduated from college and ran out of excuses not get married. We’ve now been married for over 33 years, and our two daughters are in their early twenties.

As much as I didn’t want to get married, I really, really didn’t want kids.  I am the youngest of 8 boys and the second youngest of 12.  The oldest brothers and sisters are 15-20 years older than me, and they had kids when they were very young.  So, I have nieces and nephews who are 3 years younger than me, and there are a lot of them, more than 20.

They were always around when I was growing up, sniveling, crying little ankle biters disturbing me at all hours.  You can only imagine what Holidays were like with a gaggle like that: pure chaos and pandemonium.

With those memories fresh in my mind, I told my wife no kids. I want peace and quiet and she readily agreed. Well she lied.  About 5 years after we were married, she started telling me her biological clock was ticking. My reply was not satisfactory to her wishes as I reminded her of my pre-matrimonial edict of no kids.   Her explanation was she meant none right away, not EVER!

After I was told we were going to have kids (guys, we never win these arguments do we?), nothing happened for 7 years. I was silently celebrating this fact while my wife was agonizing over not conceiving.  I was rotten and selfish and thought myself such inadequate parental material that God must surely have agreed and kept us barren.  Through the miracle of modern medicine, and many prayers from my wife, (the best I could offer was to not pray against her), we had a lovely baby girl.  Unfortunately, this girl, to my horror, had my personality from the time the doctor caught her with a catcher’s mitt shooting out of the womb.  Like many parents, my mother said it was payback. I knew karma was unrelenting, but my personality in a girl? Oof.

She is so much like me, as a 20 year old  she declares to one and all I’M NEVER HAVING KIDS!  She finds them to be loathsome creatures and not worthy of her time. Not the mention the destruction it can cause a woman’s body.  She shudders at the very thought and I find her protestations to be reminiscent of me at her age. Except for the woman’s body thing.

My wife and I may have hope, because she started out with I’M NEVER GOING TO GET MARRIED and has cooled her jets on that now that she is a young independent professional. She can see herself settling down and being a wife, but she is as adamant as ever on the kid thing.  I hope she’ll come around but you never know; she’s not the nurturing type.

For now, I’m worried about any wedding she might have.  Being the father of the bride is an awe inspiring possibility, especially in the case of this princess. I think she will plan an affair that would rival Charles and Diana (or more recently William and Kate). She has not yet figured out she wasn’t born into royalty and has made comments to that affect.

While she was growing up, and especially in the last few years, she and her mother and sister watched those burgeoning reality shows centered around weddings. I don’t know the names of these shows, thank heavens, but they were about wedding cakes, wedding dresses, Bridezillas, ad nauseam.

I heard enough comments coming from the TV room to make me shudder.  $15,000 cakes, $20,000 dresses, receptions in castles, destination weddings, limos, huge bridal parties. It was enough to send me to a cardiologist.

I realized then I wasn’t rich enough to have 2 daughters to marry off and I really might not survive if the first one ever decides to marry. I hope she waits long enough that it is no longer my responsibility to pay; it becomes hers and the groom.  I figure she ages out of me bankrolling the ceremony at about 25. That seems like a fair number to me. She might not agree, but that’ll be part of the negotiations.  I just have to find a way to rein her mother in. Ahh, who am I kidding?

The real problem with her getting married is keeping my emotions at bay. I was 33 when she was born and too macho to show any feelings up to that point. Mr. Spock, the Star Trek character who prided himself on being an emotional vacuum, was my hero. Atta boy, Spock, no emotions, nobody can break your heart. Then this baby girl invaded my life and really messed things up. How can you not love, adore and get emotional about babies? Especially girl babies? I melted. I swooned. I was a complete sap. And still am.

Most guys understand, you love boys because they are just like you, but girls are soft and snuggly and warm and you have to spend your whole life protecting them from GUYS!

Then she’ll bring home some clown and say “Daddy, this is the one!”
I am somewhat prepared for that day to come, but after that?

I cannot imagine what a wreck I’ll be their weddings. As a recovering emotional eunuch, I get teary eyed at toilet paper commercials these days. I am such a baby; I have to turn the radio off every time the song “Butterfly Kisses” plays lest I choke like a dog on a chicken bone. I’m completely pathetic. I have no idea how I will be able to give a daughter away.

I remember when one of my many nieces got married many years ago. My brother, the father of the bride, handled the ceremony reasonably well. It was only after she walked back up the aisle to greet departing guests that he fell apart. I mean a complete and utter full monte breakdown in front of God and country in the apse of the Lutheran Church. Our daughters were flower girls in their cousin’s wedding, still quite young, and yet, I could see myself in his shoes 15 or more years in the future. As much empathy as I felt for him, it was the stark terror of being in his place that shook me. I hugged him and consoled him then slapped him around and made him get a grip like good brothers are supposed to do. I then went off to brood about my inescapable fate.

The wedding of my youngest daughter will be so much fun. She is delightful and such a good soul and requires so little to make her happy. Her joy will be in the friends and family and the life she is going off to live with her husband. I see her getting married in woods next to a stream. She’s barefoot, in a goofy tie dyed dress, laughing at it all and at even more at me. That one will be even harder on me as she is so kind and gentle and I worry about her in an unforgiving world. For her, I’ll be a blubbering mess for very different reasons.

These are only musings, of course I do not know how I will react.  The only certainty is I will need liberal amounts of adult beverages to survive. I suspect upon learning how much the darn wedding is costing me, I will be sobbing anew.

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