I’m devastated that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was allowed to pass me by and I wish I had been more insistent. I also realize that this was more my daughter’s day than mine so maybe I should just suck it up.
How can I move past this? — Mother of the Bride
I think you need to re-frame how you’re looking at this missed opportunity. First of all, the opportunity to see your daughter get married was the main event and you didn’t miss that. I understand that weddings can be highly-emotionally charged affairs and that, as a mother-of-the-bride – especially one footing most of the wedding bill, it’s a time of many mixed feelings. You’re proud, you’re happy, you’re nervous and excited. You’re probably feeling pretty nostalgic, too, remembering your daughter as a little girl and wondering how the time went by so quickly. It can be challenging to process all of these emotions and tempting to channel them into something more manageable and less confusing, like anger or feeling “devastated,” as you say you are. But for your own emotional well-being and for the sake of your relationship with your daughter, you can’t stay stuck on this one emotion. Let yourself feel the range of emotions the whole occasion of your daughter’s getting married inspires, even if it’s uncomfortable or sad.
I also urge you not to point fingers at one specific person for the missed photo opportunity. I can understand why the photographer is an easy target – he should have had a list of people to be included in formal pictures and he dropped the ball. But it’s not as if he was the only person in attendance with a camera. We all carry cameras on us these days. That you don’t have a single photo of yourself in your dress is… well, it’s your fault. It would have been super easy to ask any other wedding guest – including your husband – to snap a picture of you. It would have taken seconds to grab your daughter, hand your phone to someone, and ask him or her to take a photo. You say you’re devastated that “this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was allowed to pass [you] by and [you] wish [you] had been more insistent,” which suggests that you do realize that YOU had some power in this situation that you didn’t use. The answer wasn’t to be more insistent, though – it was to take some photos yourself. And, again, the true “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity was to see your daughter get married and you didn’t miss that. If you really think the bigger opportunity here was the missed photo opp, your priorities are skewed. Photo opps can be missed, pictures can be lost or destroyed or not turn out well – but the memory of watching your daughter marry is something you can keep forever.
Finally, if having photos of you in your dress and you with your daughter in her wedding gown is so important to you, and if not having these photos is tearing you up like you say it is, why not stage a make-up photo day? You can explain to your daughter how disappointed you are that you didn’t get photos together at her wedding and you’d love if you could both put your dresses back on and get some photos together. You could make this a fun event – do it at a park on a gorgeous day, or invite your daughter and son-in-law to your home for celebratory brunch where you can chat about favorite moments from the wedding and guests you were happy to see. The point here is to remember what really matters here – your daughter got married, you were lucky enough to be a part of it, and now you have a new family member (whom you hopefully like and enjoy). The other stuff is just your mind’s way of processing big emotions that are pretty natural to feel following such an important life event. It’s unfortunate formal photos weren’t taken of you, but that doesn’t warrant the kind of devastation you’re describing, and I hope you’ll take my advice and not let yourself get stuck on that particular response. It’s not the picture of a supportive mother who’s happy for her daughter. (And if there’s a reason you aren’t happy for your daughter, understand that the tears you say you can’t stop crying might not actually be about the pictures.)
I find it incredibly selfish for her to make it my Dan and his brother’s job to upkeep this land, these animals, and this house that are well past anything she needs or can maintain. She and I aren’t each other’s biggest fans, so I don’t usually care to go with Dan. Also, I can’t get him to do any “chores” around our home, ever!
Is it unreasonable for him to leave most weekends, only bringing his daughter, while leaving me at home alone with my four kids, never doing chores at home but doing them for his mom? I feel like he needs to stop enabling his mother and that she needs to sell this huge house she cannot keep up with, sell the animals she hoards, and let her grown sons make their own families their priority? — A Full House
It’s not her job to make Dan prioritize his family though. He’s choosing to abandon you and your shared home together every weekend on his own accord, for two years now. I suspect he probably likes having an excuse to leave and that it’s easier for him to disappear every weekend than to do the work of breaking up with you, moving out, and disrupting whatever image of a family and home you’ve created together. As we say a lot on Dear Wendy, you don’t have a mother-in-law problem, you have a partner problem. If it weren’t his mother’s home and animals, it would be something else. Dan is avoiding you. And you’re enabling him. It’s time to have a serious talk with him about your future together, where he sees this relationship going, and whether or not you’re on the same page (I don’t think you are). If he’s not willing to actually spend time fostering a life and future together, you need to move on already. The bonus to doing so will be avoiding all those animals Dan is going to have to deal with when his mom passes away some day…
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.