Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chick Lit Cheerleader: A bridesmaid's lament

Introduction by Melissa Amster

The Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, is going to be jealous of me. That is because I was a flower girl when I was eight years old. My sister and I stood up in our aunt and uncle's wedding. It was such a cool experience, getting to shop for dresses (back in the mid-80s, it was all about lace). Some memorable moments of the evening were when my aunt said "I take this man to be my wife," when we gave them both pieces of toast while my dad was delivering his toast and getting to dance to Michael Jackson songs with a cute 12 year-old guy. So what if I hated how my hair looked (they straightened my hair in front to give me bangs and it was just not a good look for me)...I had a great time! Since then, I've only stood up in one other wedding as a bridesmaid, and then never again. (Even for friends who had stood up in my wedding.) So while Jen might be jealous of my flower girl experience, I am jealous that she got to be a bridesmaid more than once.) Thankfully, she finally got to live out her flower girl fantasies through her daughter and is here to tell us all about it!

Always the bridesmaid, never the flower girl

I try not to live out my life’s missed opportunities through my children, yet it happens from time to time. I have two childhood fantasies that specifically come to mind where my children have been key making up for my youthful losses. First, let’s discuss the Easy Bake Oven I always begged for and never received. My dad feared I’d burn myself on a pretend, plastic stove powered by a light bulb. Instead, he and my mom bought me the miniature baking pans and cake mixes for me to go all Julia Child with in our oven. The real oven, in the kitchen, that heats up hotter than light bulbs ever could. Am I the only one who sees the disconnect here? This sanction was remedied when Santa left my boys this dreamy toy appliance in 2001.

I warmed you up with the kitchen calamity because my next bucket list item is huge. One that I’ve fantasized about since I was a curly headed tot. I believe it is my destiny to be a flower girl. Yes, you heard me; a flower girl.

I’m not sure when my fascination with being the opening act for the bride began. Recalling countless nuptials I’ve witnessed in my 42 years on the planet, it’s hard to pinpoint the shift in thought from, yeah, I’ve never been a flower girl to Hey…I’ve never been a flower girl! It’s a slippery slope in my case. Yet living out my destiny through my children again came to fruition. This summer my daughter, Gracie, had the blessed honor.

My nephew, Michael, married his high school and college sweetheart, Sisi, on June 8, 2013. Although her real name is Lindsey, she readily accepted the nickname Gracie bestowed upon her the moment it left her little rosebud shaped lips and filled the air. Whenever the opportunity arose, Lindsey positioned herself in front of our baby girl and encouragingly coached her, “Say Lindsey. Say Lindsey, Ella Gracie.” The moment Gracie said, “Sisi,” the nickname was set in stone.
Gracie has never known a time where Lindsey wasn’t in her life. Just a high school junior, Lindsey first held Gracie in her arms weeks after she was born. From tea parties to slumber parties through the years, they’ve been quite the pair.

My daughter is—how should I say this—a little over-the-top sometimes. Dramatic, moody, independent; you never know what you’re going to get. So my anxiety level shot into high gear as the wedding day approached. I tried to buffer any shenanigans before the Big Day, with speeches like, “You know if Sisi wants you to smile for pictures, then you need to do so,” or “If Sisi wants you to sprinkle petals in a certain way when you walk down the aisle, then do what she wants,” and last but not least, “No Gracie. You can’t wear a Lalaloopsy dress for the wedding even if you think it’s fancy.”
  Saturday morning arrived, the day of the wedding, and Gracie was all business. She plopped her little tush in the beauticians chair in the wee hours of the morning, and after a can-and-a-half of hairspray, comb overs and teasing, inspected the stylists’ work while admiring herself in the mirror, and announced, “Yeah, that’ll do.” 

Getting her hair done

When I asked Gracie to smile for a photo with her father, her reply, “You’re gonna have to ask Sisi. You told me I have to be in pictures when she says so, remember Mommy? You’d better clear it with her first.”

Gracie and "Sisi"

As the time drew near for me to take my seat at the front of the church, and leave my baby girl to her flower girl duties, I was a wreck. My mind fluttered with worries that she might trip in her sliver sandals, become nervous and refuse to walk down the aisle, or want one last hug and kiss from me and I wouldn’t be there for her. Then I realized, those were worries little Jenny Herrick would’ve had if she were the one walking down the aisle today. Not the worries of her daughter, who had choreographed her wrist movement for each petal drop. The moments Gracie coined as, “…super important because I’m the last person the people see before Sisi comes out. I have a big job, you know.”

She was a natural.

My heart swelled as Mike and I held hands watching our daughter toss peaches and cream colored petals from her basket onto the white runner. Gracie carefully dropped them behind her, so only Sisi’s feet would walk on them as her father escorted her down the aisle. My thoughtful little girl.
When the flower girl duties and photos were over, Mike and I met Gracie in the gardens. Carrying
her sliver sandals in hand, running towards Mike, Gracie yelled, “Swing me, Daddy!” As I watched my husband spin his little girl around and around, her feet gliding through the air, I realized one day she won’t be the flower girl. Instead, Gracie will be the bride. Rather than twirling our little girl over and over again in a white dress, Mike will be giving her away to the luckiest man alive. The twirling will still happen, but it will be on the dance floor. Be still my beating heart.  

You’re probably wondering if Gracie’s experience was enough for me to live through vicariously. We all have dreams, bucket list or life list items we crave to fulfill, right? Do I still yearn to wear the sparkly white dress and toss flowers with all eyes on me? Absolutely! 

Check out this video of Gracie dancing at the wedding.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.        


Mary Jo Burke said...

My nieces and nephews are married, but didn't ask my daughters to be in their weddings. Some tears, but they did get to get their hair done and wear knock out dresses.

Eileen Goudge said...

Beautifully said, Jen. It says as much about your wisdom as a mom as the experience itself. You know when to hold them and when to let them fly. I can see you as the mom of the bride someday & know Gracie will make you proud then, too.