My Mom has always been a strong force in my life. From her encouragement, I brought home good grades, did a lot of extra curriculars, and graduated from Dartmouth. She also tended to have a heavy hand in events: she chose all 4 of my prom dresses and chose every college I applied to except for Dartmouth. After college, I moved to San Francisco and the space really gave me an opportunity to learn how to say “no” and take the driver’s seat when I made life decisions. However, while I was gaining my independence, my Mom was still Queen of the castle when it came to my Dad and my 5 year younger brother.
When I got engaged, she once again tried to take control. It was natural for her, because it’s always been her role with the big family events.
Having lived in my grown up life for 4 years now, this didn’t go over well with me. She felt so strongly that she knew best that she refused to listen. I found myself stressed out and upset about an event that I didn’t even have a date for. She was pushing (with a bulldozer) for us to get married in Vermont, and I was afraid that would mean I wouldn’t have any control since I’m so far away.
The more she asserted herself, the more I distanced her from the decisions. I talk to my Mom probably every other day, and having this stress and conflict around such a happy event was really hard. I finally blew up and told her how upset I was that she wasn’t listening and how she was the only source of stress and frustration around this, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I told her that I wanted her to be part of this and that she had to let me come to her with requests for help. I reminded her that I was waiting to try on a wedding dress until she could visit and what a big deal that was.
We didn’t talk for three days, and at the end of that three days, I received a card with an apology from her. Ever since then, it’s been much better. We’re working together. Every now and then I still have to remind her that I have thought of the “what ifs” and the coordination pieces (it’s pretty much what I do for a living), but we’re getting there.
It’s hard for Moms to snap out of the “Mother Knows Best” mentality sometimes. Often, they feel like they’ve been looking forward/working toward this event just as much as you have. Sometimes, their focus on the decisions they want to make leaves them missing the decisions you’re trying to make them a part of. Make sure that you communicate when it gets to be too much. You don’t need further stress on your day, and it’s important that she understands her role in your wedding. A big deal for me is that I don’t want my wedding to be a family reunion. Our friends are just as important to being there as our family to me. I also know what A. and I want more than anyone else. It can be hard to tell people “no,” but remember, you only get to do this once (if all goes as planned), so make sure it’s what you want.
Remember, if anyone goes to the wedding and is disappointed about something not being done the way they wanted it, they’re missing the point!