Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dress stories

Once upon a time, about twenty-six years ago, I was living across the globe in the land of tulips and wooden shoes (both of which I love every much!).  Wooden shoes are actually called kloppen there and one day a very tall friend of mine took me on a long bike ride to a kloppen factory where we watched them being made.  I picked out a pair which live on the floor of my closet to this day, though I cannot get my feet into them since having had my third child...but that's another story.

This tall friend and I took long walks in those days among the kloppen.  We weren't there to see the tulips bloom, but we did travel once to the land held back by the dikes, the very real place of the fairy tale from my childhood.  On those long walks my tall friend and I planned our life together, starting with the wedding we'd have as soon as possible after returning to the states. 

We returned to Washington from Holland just six weeks before our wedding.  And in that time, had to put into action all the things we'd dreamed.  Or I did, anyway.  He went back to work.  I went shopping.  In Seattle, I went dress shopping with my grandmother and aunt, with my father holding the wallet.  Dad was living in Seattle that spring because he was having treatments for cancer.  I was reminded this afternoon what a special thing it was to have had that experience with my dad.  He didn't offer too many suggestions, mostly just wrote checks, but he was there, and that was plenty.

My grandmother, on the other hand, had plenty of suggestions.  And she had a completely different aesthetic than I did.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why I allowed the choice of bridesmaid pattern I did, but my sister today said, "You were jet-lagged." Yes, yes, I was.  Let me just say three words to describe them: Little Bo Peep.  I'm not kidding.  Baby blue (which was my color of choice because it was my groom's favorite color--see, not even that was my own) dresses with puffy sleeves and skirts so full we bought hoops to wear under them, with a wide royal blue sash around the waist.  I crack up, just thinking of the women I put into those things.  My very chic school teacher friend.  My dancer traveling/roommate. My sisters.  My oldest best friend.  Not one of them a flighty, Bo Peep type, even in dress-up.

My sister, RE, and I carefully made all five of those bridesmaid dresses in just a few short weeks.  They were meant to have lace down the front, with blue piping through it, but after basting one, I finally put my foot down.  Or maybe pulled my head out.  Woke up. Something.  Said no, in any case.  No way, no how.  It was bad enough.  But those women wore them with smiles on their faces and flowers in their hair.  Pretending they were thrilled by it all.  Pretending they weren't looking for their lost sheep, or at least their shepherd's crook.  And I'm pretty sure I never told them thank you.  I mean, I thanked them for being in my wedding, but I'm not certain I thanked them for the sacrifice of wearing those dresses.

This all came flowing back to me today, because once again, RE and I are sitting at our sewing machines in her home in the middle of the wheat fields.  In fact, I think I'm sitting at the same table I sat at 26 years ago, almost exactly this day.  And once again, we're sewing for a wedding.  Even the bridesmaid dress color is close to the same as the blue we cut and sewed all those years ago when we were young and slim, and this bride wasn't yet a twinkle in her mother's eye.  But the color is just about the only similarity between those five dresses and these.  Between that bride and this one.  These dresses are stunning, will fit and flatter the attendants (including both E and SK). They are shorter and have far--far--less material.  And this bride knows that this is her wedding.  She can dream and plan and put those plans into action and will be met with encouragement and support...

...which is how it should be.  You see, my sister had a dream of her daughter's wedding dress.  An actual dream.  She could see it in her head as clear as daylight.  But her daughter couldn't see it.  So my sister lay down her dream.  She let it go, surrendered her dream, and instead--gladly--is creating the dress of her daughter's dreams.

This, I think, is a great picture for me of how to parent adult kids.  I have my dreams.  Dreams so clear I could draft them and sew them into form.  But they aren't my children's dreams.  To love my adult children means that I must continually let go of my dreams for them, and support their dreams--at least when the two collide. 

What I'm talking about are Abrahamic moments.  Moments when I lay my children--or my dreams for my children--on the altar, and surrender them to God's care.  He has charge over them.  To mix verses here, He has charge "concerning them, to guard them in all their ways."  In such things as their wedding dresses to their choice of mates to their careers to all the pains in the adult world that I cannot fix for them.  Lay them on the altar where HE will deal with them.  Guard them.

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