May 14, 2010

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

One way or another, we’ll get these kids launched

Cynthia DewesMothers, whom we have just honored on Mothers Day, are responsible for 50 percent of their child’s being so we can thank them for what goes on every year at this time. Thank dads for 50 percent too, of course. I speak of weddings, graduations, confirmations and gala celebrations of every kind enjoyed by their progeny.

Maybe “thank” them is the wrong word. “Wonder at” might be more like it since these efforts can be real dramas. It takes true grit to be the parent of a bride, groom or graduate, especially when there are several kids in the family, all celebrating about the same time.

Timing can be a problem. We have a granddaughter whose wedding occurred on the same day that her sister, one of the bridesmaids, graduated from college. No one anticipated such a snag, but they dealt with it. It is called compromise, a skill which probably should be shared with the U.S. Congress. But I digress.

Local or family customs can also stir up trouble. In my circles, wedding rehearsal dinner guest lists were limited to members of the wedding party and parents of the happy couple. Period.

Thus, at a niece’s wedding, we hosted a dinner at her home for grandparents, friends and assorted relatives of the bride so that her parents could attend the rehearsal dinner. Actually, we may have had more fun than the wedding party, but that’s another story.

However, when one of our sons married, we discovered to our chagrin that the other family’s customs were different. They included as rehearsal dinner guests the families of the wedding party, out-of-town relatives, etc. Oops! We revamped our plans in a hurry.

Then there is the wedding shower dilemma. Who gets to host this event, which family, whose friends? Since in-laws are largely an unknown quantity at this point, compromise is essential, not to mention patience and giving others the benefit of the doubt. Luckily, the shower guests are usually clueless about the politics that preceded the party.

Confirmations are a different rite of passage than weddings or graduations, but they can also be trouble. Parents may worry about the sincerity of the child’s commitment or the level of the child’s maturity. They may debate what gift or what kind of party is suitable for a religious occasion. But then they remember that this is about the child’s personal relationship with God and not up to us. God will take care of it.

When I was young, “graduation” usually meant graduation from high school since most people did not go on to college. But nowadays, we have graduations of every imaginable kind and some even unimaginable.

We witness tots wearing tiny mortarboards and gowns as they “graduate” from kindergarten. They are delighted at the attention, but not sure why they are receiving it. Come to think of it, that may apply to some of the older graduates as well.

Anyway, we honor high school graduates with gifts and good wishes for a happy future. We do the same for college graduates, perhaps with a bit more gravity. But the point is, we have raised our kids to be independent, capable, faithful people who will serve themselves, their families and society well. And now we are sending them out into the world.

When our kids are confirmed, we believe they are on the right moral path, and when they marry we know the human race will continue as it should. It is a big relief.

But, I’m happy to tell you, it’s only the beginning!

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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