He was on leave when he asked his girlfriend, now fiancée, to be his wife, so at the present he’s back in Basic Training, getting ready to graduate and go where he is told. And now I am negotiating the new relationship I’ve suddenly found myself in: future mother-in-law.
My mother-in-law was okay, I guess, as mothers-in-law go. We went shopping together, and got along in family gatherings. She even babysat, occasionally. But I, and the other daughters-in-law, were never allowed to forget that we were the outsiders, the “in-laws.” Not quite family, right down to not receiving stockings at Christmas, because only “family” got them. The distinction was hurtful to a young bride.
But I have the opportunity to be a different type of mother-in-law, and I’m taking advantage of that. Since my son’s engagement, I’ve invited my future “daughter” over, we text daily, and we plan on going to a movie (after we both get over the sinus infections my son gifted us with). I’ve told her I finally have a daughter, and I mean it. I loved having sons, but getting to do girlie things is such a gift!
I want her to feel welcome, and I think she does. On Saturday, she texted me and said she and her mom were going to look for wedding dresses “just for fun.” She’d booked an appointment at a bridal salon, and would I like to meet them? Of course, I did!
The place was spinning when I got there. So many soon-to-be-brides, and their entourages. I now know what “sounds like a henhouse” means. Oh, my goodness, so many voices and giggles and bells. Yes, bells. Whenever a bride found her dress, she was handed a bell to ring, and everyone in the place would cheer and clap. What a far cry from when I went dress shopping, over thirty years ago. But, I have to say, the anticipation felt the same.
While the salon stylist talked to my son’s fiancée, her mom and I got to sort through dresses. What a blast! Ballgowns, Cinderella dresses, sheaths, mermaids, trumpets…what descriptions are these? They are styles of dresses, and if I could have stayed in that place by myself, I would happily try them all on. Gone is the simple choice between white or off-white.
Now brides have those choices, plus blush, pink, blue, champagne. You name it, it can become a wedding gown. I don’ know how girls decide, but somehow, they do. For example, my future daughter-in-law described what she liked, we added a few of our renditions, the stylist went on a search, and voila! Three dresses later she was ringing that bell. Amazing.
It was easy to recognize which dress she fell in love with. She walked out of that dressing room beaming. Her mother leaned over and whispered to me, “I think she found her dress.” In moments, she was twirling on the platform, watching the dress sparkle and sway like a little girl in her first party dress. Only, this is the party dress for which all little girls practice. And she looked like a bride. And an angel. And a young woman in love. And I was a part of it all.
Shopping for wedding dresses is not at all like when I looked for my dress. It’s a big market that somehow makes it easy for a woman to find her dream gown. The styles aren’t the same, though the bling and the materials haven’t changed much. Nor has the radiance dimmed on a girl’s face when she sees herself in The dress. I don’t think that will ever change.
And I got to be a part of that magic moment, because my son fell in love with a darling, caring girl who made me feel as included as I hope I can make her feel in our family.