Practically from the first, "Mom?" over the phone I can detect whether I'm about to hear good news, sad news, or just the standard chitchat that my older daughters and I enjoy while keeping in touch. This past month has had more sad news than good. But even from the sad comes good, as you know from reading my posts about my lovely mother-in-law, Cathy.
Some other good news, though, is that our oldest is safely in Germany and adjusting to life in a new culture and environment. She is getting the experience of living in college dorms, though softened a bit with her husband by her side. We don't get to talk on the phone, but rely on both gmail chat and Skype for conversations.
We don't hear much from #2, though with a new production (MacBeth) in the works I'm not surprised. She was the one who had the unfortunate task of letting us know that, first, the air conditioner on their little VW Bug had died. Then a call telling us the brakes on my Sonata, that they were borrowing for the summer, needed to be replaced. To top off the summer of expenses, she had to let us know the compressor for our downstairs air conditioning unit in Houston house needed to be replaced.
Our third daughter is not as ready to call, but when she does it is usually good news. Sadly, not a few days ago. At first it was a bit of a surprise, but not after Tom and I talked about everything that had gone on before. Now that time is helping settle things a bit, life is again approaching stability and normalcy.
The news wasn't anything shocking, scary or even truly dismal. But, after a late night discussion she and her fiancé had decided to call off their engagement, and put the wedding on hold. That, of course, means money spent that can't be recouped. As she said, now she knows why the wedding industry makes out like bandits. The very fact that she and Brian were brave enough to say stop is good! Money, in the end just represents time, not a lifetime. I imagine there are plenty of couples who feel extreme pressure to say "I do" when deep inside they don't want to, but feel compelled because of all "the money" spent.
Our daughters and son all know that we love them, no matter how much money they cost us! Seriously, though, we do hope and trust that they will always trust us to be completely honest, even when it means serious disruptions in plans and expectations. After all, it truly is sinful for parents to believe they have the right to guide their children once they are young adults. Not saying we abdicate our role as parents, but we also realize that there is a point that emerges where we have to step back, let our adult children make their own way in life, and bite hard on that tongue.
The gratifying thing, though, for me is when what I thought was the wise thing turns out to be the foolish one, and their choice is the best. When our children were young it was simpler, "Which color do you want to wear? The blue or the green?" We could limit their choices depending on how mature they were, and how much time we had. Now that they are testing the waters as adults, we don't have as many limits to place.
The ultimate test will be in the end, and by then there will only be the ultimate choice, "Do you love Me?", spoken at our own intimate end in this world. All the choices we allowed to our children, and our own parents allowed us, we pray and hope lead us to emphatically shout "YES!" when we are called to account for our earthly life.
So, the wedding is off. Perhaps completely, perhaps only pushed into the future. Far better to have to undo our expectations and contracts now, rather than see our daughter go through with something her fiancé felt he wasn't ready to commit to in January.