Last updated on November 6th, 2019 at 01:15 am
As I work on editing my book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, I am distracted by the much-anticipated royal wedding that will unite Prince William and commoner Kate Middleton. The media attention has me remembering all the pressure and drama that swirled around my first wedding.
If all brides are beautiful, then all weddings should feel like a royal wedding.
My expectations were no different. I was 26 years old and relatively poor and had no expectations that my family would be paying for anything. My husband to be and I developed a conservative plan to invite less than 40 people to Yosemite where we were wed in the chapel on the valley floor.
I was amazed that my dad and my stepmother offered to host the wedding supper at The Awanhee — a historic destination set in the middle of Yosemite Park.
At the time I was not speaking to my mother, nor had I for several years, which meant that my fiance had never met or spoken to her. (If you have a daughter, please tell her never to marry anyone without each examining the other relatives up close.) It came to pass that my dad asked me to invite my mother to the wedding and for a long time I argued with him about it.
His philosophy was that a wedding should be inclusive because, really, there are only a few per family, so no one should be excluded. He kept saying, “She’s your mother…” holding his imperfect hands out to further plead with me.
I think every bride — probably even Kate Middleton — agonizes over her wedding guest list. They lose sleep over the seating chart. And certainly, every bride harbors feelings of dread for that one guest, whether it’s an ex-boyfriend, ex-boss, or someone who’s rooting for you to trip on your slip. Heaven help her if she’s dealing with a toxic mom.
My father insisted I invite my toxic mom and I caved, reluctantly mailing off a wedding invitation. When my mother called with her regrets, she said she supposed I’d need money from her anyway. I said I didn’t. Certainly, she would need to pay for my wedding dress, she speculated. Actually, I had picked out and paid for my own dress at the Laura Ashley shop on Union Street.
She switched gears and began to tear down my wedding plans, the location, and the small number of guests. Our conversation caught my fiance’s attention and being a calm sort he took the phone to reason with my mother. In less than 90 seconds HE was shouting back at her and I motioned for him to just stop and hang up.
On the day of the wedding, no one expected my mother and yet she and her boyfriend flew up in a small plane he piloted. We made room for them at the family table and my mother commenced to drink. My dad was so funny. He described her later as drinking like a sailor with a hollow leg.
“When she stood up, the room tipped on her,” he said with the same upturned hands and shrug of the shoulders that he used to compel me to invite her in the first place. “It wasn’t her fault that she tipped over.”
Two men in tuxedos carried her out, each holding her under the arm. Her little feet flicked without touching the ground, like Tinkerbell.
Months later, when we all caught our breath, my step-mom joked that the lesson learned was that you should never extend an invitation to someone you don’t actually want to see. If I had it to do over again, I would have held my ground and withheld the invitation.
I’m happy for the most famous bride in the universe and plan to set my alarm to watch Kate and William’s royal wedding. Obviously Kate Middleton has a great relationship with her mom who could never be mistaken for a toxic mom.
But there are plenty of brides out there dealing with toxic moms and they need to know that they can control the experience they have at their own wedding. I hope that any bride dealing with a toxic mom discovers this post before they cry, tear their hair out or elope.
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