A Wedding and Reflections

My oldest son, Alex, got married to a wonderful young woman yesterday. There were many, many memorable moments during the ceremony and reception, not the least of which was the look in Mika’s eyes as she stood facing Alex before they said their vows. The love and happiness seemed to come off her in waves. It was an incredible sight. I don’t have a picture of that because it was during the ceremony, but this is the newlyweds listening to the toast from the best man.

This is another of the high points. Alex got his sister out on the dance floor and tried to teach her some country dance moves. Sara went along, and if you look close I do believe she’s actually smiling. As children, these two almost never got along with one another. But here they are, both legally adults now, finally playing nice.

Both my daughters looked amazingly beautiful yesterday and made me realize just how fast they’ve grown up. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I was supposed to give all my kids a better childhood, more of my time, more of the things they wanted, more experiences. But instead we moved around quite a bit as I chased jobs, struggling from one paycheck to the next, always frustrated, always thinking that big break was just around one or two more corners, and never finding it. Now one is married and one engaged and seldom home.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a parent. Many of those mistakes came with Alex, just because he was the first. It started when we brought him home from the hospital without any clothes. In January. Oh, he was wearing the onesy the hospital dressed him in and we put him in a coat and wrapped him in blankets, but for some reason we overlooked actual warm clothes. The lowest point, though, was his first few years of school, when he struggled so much and I continually lost patience with him during homework, which we worked on for hours in the evening after his long day at school and mine at a job I hated. I wish I could go back, grab him up, tell him I’m sorry and that everything will turn out okay.

The wedding ceremony put a knot in my throat, but my eyes stayed dry. It wasn’t until the reception, when my youngest son took the microphone without telling anybody what he was going to do, that I lost it a little. I don’t remember his exact words, but he talked about playing video games with Alex and said he didn’t want to lose his brother, and told Alex never to lose Mika. Gah! Just writing about it makes my eyes wet. The little guy even had the DJ tearing up.

I’ve gained a wonderful new daughter, but my little boy is a man now and somehow that feels like a fresh loss despite the fact he moved out of my house over a year ago and I’ve turned his old bedroom into my office. He has begun his own family now.

This post has rambled along. What I’m trying to say is the old message that you should never let a chance slip by to tell those close to you how you really feel. Parents, make sure your kids know you love them and are proud of them, even when they make it difficult. And kids, remember that your own children will pay you back for every heartache you cause your parents.

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