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FROM READERS: Never-worn wedding dress is a symbol of mother's philosophy

Monday, May 20, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Judy Tayloe has lived in Fayette for almost 19 years. She and her husband have three daughters and four grandchildren.

As I waited for our daughter to come to the dress shop, I browsed through all the beautiful, gorgeous wedding dresses hanging lifeless on hangers like dejected belles of the ball. There were frilly ones and plain ones in every shade of white imaginable. Among all these lifeless, stark, medicinal white dresses were splashes of bright color adding some life to the place. As I walked from rack to rack I contemplated how I was feeling about the meeting that was about to take place. In my mind I thought this is supposed to be an extraordinarily happy occasion, and all I’m doing is dreading the entire process. I was there to purchase a dress for our youngest for her upcoming wedding to the man of her dreams. Her dad and I had decided this would be our contribution — or at least one of our contributions.

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Deep in my thoughts I was interrupted by a perky and helpful attendant who asked if she could show me anything, and I told her I was waiting to meet my daughter and her maid of honor. I kept on browsing and watching for her out the window, and it seemed like it was forever, but it was just a few minutes before the two best friends arrived.

Unlike the sparkle I had seen in our oldest daughter’s eyes when we went dress shopping, all I saw were tired eyes from working all day. She walked over and showed me her choice that was delicately placed on a mannequin. When I saw it I remember thinking to myself: it’s perfect! I tried to envision her walking down the aisle and looking just the way a woman should look on her wedding day: radiant and glowing and ready for a new life with her special guy!

Being a true romantic I kept playing the part of the thrilled and excited mom! I waited while she and her best friend when back to slip on the dress. When she stood on the pedestal and twirled around to model her choice, I respectfully and lovingly made all the right comments. I told her it looked great on her, and I could see why she picked the one she picked. It was a bit frilly and feminine but wasn’t an “over-the-top” gown that you would find in a majestic cathedral. What little background she had shared so far was it was going to be an outside, country-themed ceremony, and she and her attendants were going to be in boots. It sounded like the groom was going to have a splash of camouflage to accent his look and wasn’t thrilled about being dressed like he was for prom the past couple of years.

Moms have a way of using their intuition to sense that their children aren’t happy. In this particular case from the moment the engagement was shared with her dad and I, I had a gut feeling all was not well. For starters the groom wasn’t even around when we learned of the engagement and upcoming wedding. In fact, the groom really hadn’t been around in all the years that our daughter had been sharing her life with him. So when parents see “red flags” what do they do? Immediately inform their child that there will be no wedding? Absolutely not! What good, wise parents do is trust that their child will make choices in the long run that show maturity and strength in character.

Moms and Dads don’t always get to say they were right in every moment in their child’s life when they think one way and their child thinks the other. This time we were right, and after a few weeks of still worrying and wondering how this wedding was going to happen and how we were going to smile and hug our daughter and wish her our best, our prayers were answered. She broke it off! Inside her heart she had known for a while that she couldn’t marry the guy, and she didn’t want to change her entire life to center around him. The relief I felt was immense. The pride I felt in her when she was able to decide not to get married because it wasn’t what she truly felt was right was more than I can describe. At that moment I saw her grow and I saw her become even more capable of facing other life-changing decisions down the road.

The whole theory of letting your child make decisions regardless of what you think sounds all well and good, but as this story unfolded I couldn’t help but think back about the time when I told my parents I was getting married to my older boyfriend. They took it in stride, we planned the wedding, and the marriage began. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last, but I learned how much I still had to learn about relationships and more importantly I gained a new respect for my parents. They had let me learn on my own, make my own choice for a life partner and didn’t try to influence my decision. The reason they didn’t is they knew it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

I was going to marry the guy no matter what because I thought it was absolutely what I wanted.

As I reflect on this experience and continue to advertise and stick up fliers and recoup the cost of the wedding dress hanging in the closet downstairs, I think of my mom who passed away twenty years ago. I think of how many times she knew how I felt but didn’t have a clue that she had any idea how sad I was or how truly unhappy I was. Mom inspired me to listen. Sometimes Mom didn’t want a hug so when I started having children I made sure they could hug me whenever they wanted. Mom most of all just wanted me to a happy, independent, young woman. After a few tries and many years I think I managed to achieve that status. In turn, even though there is a brand new wedding dress hanging in the guest room closet, my husband and I have managed to be the blessed parents of not one, not two, but three very independent and capable women. The cost of one dress is a very small price to pay to be able to have a family like ours. 

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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