I was wearing a bridesmaid’s gown. Again.
Its pastel green complemented the bride’s silky deco-style gown of blue that worked with the borrowed earrings that dangled from beneath her short bobbed hair. The new was the glittery sling-back heels that peeked through the slit of her gown as she walked down the aisle toward the smiling groom. The old? That was the bridesmaid — her 49-year-old unmarried daughter. Me.
My sexy, 71-years-young mother, Bonnye, was getting married for the second time and I was not coping well with it.
I was devastated when my always-holding-hands, very in-love parents decided to separate after 42 years of marriage. They had grown apart but remained friends and wanted to change their lives while they were still young enough to kick-up their heels and go dancing, in their words. As a romantic who idolized their relationship and was hoping to find such a love, the divorce was devastating.
After the divorce, I barely recognized my mother. Who was this woman who now kept kosher? My Baltimore childhood meant we often enjoyed crab cakes for dinner after Hebrew school! Who was this stranger who now wanted to borrow my Food & Wine magazines? She never used to like wine and although she attempted to cook for us, it wasn’t her greatest talent. When I was planning to visit my family one Thanksgiving, she informed me that she was going to be out of town. Where was the lady who raised me and counted the minutes until I came home? Why didn’t she ever want to visit me in NYC anymore? We went from being best friends to basically being estranged.
When (my now stepfather) Barry asked my mom to marry him one New Year’s Eve (her second proposal when I had yet to have my first), I was alone at a resort in Arizona trying to heal my heart after two painful break-ups that year. Since we weren’t speaking, I found out about my mother’s engagement when she texted me a picture of the ring.
I thought being a single, career-driven 35-year-old when my younger sister Beth got married was tough, but that was nothing compared to this humiliation. Did everyone think there was something dreadfully wrong with me?
As my sister and I walked down the aisle, were the wedding guests feeling pity that I, a single lady of a certain age, was part of this pomp and circumstance? Relatives and family friends were smiling and whispering — what were they saying? I tried to calm myself with an internal refrain: It doesn’t matter what I don’t have, I’m grateful for what I do have – dear friends, a quirky family, unique life experiences, health and exquisite taste in bridesmaid dresses. Wearing sexy lingerie under my gown that day gave me strength.
After borderline embarrassing vows, tears for the whole wedding party, joining my “new brother” at our “new family” table with his wife and two happy little girls, I realized it was time for me to grow up.
It was time to stop worrying about events and people out of my control and to focus on what I could. I was trying to fit into a mold of my family’s expectations and believed in unrealistic fairytales. I realized I needed to concentrate on finding my own bliss —a career that I want and a Mr. Right who is right for me.
We are now the new modern family, and with that comes an acceptance and a freedom to please my own mind and heart. This “family” was there for me during one of the strangest days of my life. And all were appreciated.
I’ve had a year where I needed help (was on crutches for a bit) and I would not have been able to get through it without my mother and stepfather, although my mom prefers I use the term “additional father.” These days, when they pop into town to visit me just for fun, we walk around my city exploring and having new adventures, laughing along the way.