I’ve never really been much of a “feminist”. Yes, I believe women can do anything they put their minds to, and we deserve every right and every penny men receive. However, I’m not going around burning any bras or anything crazy like that. I’ve always been an independent woman, capable of doing whatever I want or need to do. And I’ve definitely never felt like I belonged to anyone.
So, when it came time to decide who would walk me down the aisle, I kinda balked at the idea of having my Dad give me away. Um, hello? I’m not a cow. There is no dowry exchanging hands. I am not becoming Mr. CC’s responsibility. Do I really want to uphold this tradition?
My parents split when I was 16. My dad left abruptly. I had a very “Leave it to Beaver” childhood before then. My mom stayed home and my dad worked. They never fought, at least not in front of us. So, my dad’s unprecedented departure from our home was a shock to everyone. It hit my mom the hardest.
She had spent 12 years as a stay-at-home mom. She packed our lunches every morning, was president of the PTA, the Popcorn Lady, the Penny Power Lady, the Snow Cone Lady, and she taught Sunday School at our Church for 10 years. We had a home cooked meal every single night. Our Halloween costumes were always homemade (I still cringe at the idea of store bought Halloween costumes). She went on our field trips with us. She chaperoned our dances. She was our Girl Scout troop leader. I won’t lie and say that we appreciated it then (in fact, sometimes we were downright embarrassed by her involvement in our activities), but as I look back on it now, I wish I had the time and money to do the same thing for my daughter.
When my dad left, my mom was lost. She was propelled into a workforce she was unfamiliar with, and had no marketable job skills, to boot. Her bachelor’s degree in microbiology was all but null and void.
Yet, she persevered. She worked temp jobs for a while, until the divorce was final, and took evening classes at the same university I graduated from 6 years later. After the divorce was finalized, my mom was granted a sizable portion of my dad’s 401K and enough child support and alimony to support us. She quit working and threw all her time and energy into the Physician’s Assistant program at the University of South Alabama. 27 months later, she graduated with a master’s degree and started her second career.
I had never been more proud of my mother.
My relationship with my mom was definitely rocky in the months following the divorce. Mom was distraught and frustrated. A lot of responsibility got put on my 16-year-old shoulders, and at the time, I was very resentful. As I got older and more understanding, and especially after I became a mom, I soon realized that it was a defense mechanism, and my mom was severely depressed. She is there for me through everything and is definitely my best friend. I can’t imagine a single day without my mom.
My relationship with my father, on the other hand, has always been strained. The divorce caused a huge divide between my dad and his children. Over time, my wounds have healed, and I realized that he’s the only dad I’ve got, and I should make the best of it. We have grown closer since the birth of my daughter. We also lived together for 18 months while I was in nursing school. Sure, we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that’s okay.
Once I had decided that I was not a cow, and I wouldn’t be “given away”, it was time to decide whom, if anyone, would walk me down the aisle. This wasn’t something that I was going to take lightly. I knew that any deviation from tradition would hurt my dad’s feelings tremendously. However, we had decided against a unity candle, and I really wanted some way to include my mother.
I decided that I wanted both my parents to walk me down the aisle. No one would be giving me away. Instead, they would be escorting me down the aisle in support of my marriage. They both contributed so much to my life; how could I leave one of them out?
My mom was thrilled. My dad, not so much. He wanted to walk me down the aisle, just me and him. He says he will do whatever I want, but I can tell he’s hurt.
So, hive, what do I do? Rescind the offer to my mom and find some other way to honor her? Tell my dad to deal and have them both walk me down? Or should I just walk alone?