By Deb Baer Becker
I like to think I have my own style; I’m perfectly capable of choosing a dress. Affirmations of that come on the occasions when my daughter will point to, say, a pair of leopard-print loafers, and declare, “Those shoes are so Debby Becker-ish.” I always laugh. Still, there are times when I feel muddled, unsure of the right silhouette for my body type, which I am afraid seems to be the dreaded apple. I wanted to get this mother of the groom dress right.
Gwen took me on a tour through the displays of hanging dresses while we talked about the occasion: destination wedding, beach, January. I pointed to a dress with glittering sequins. She said, “Too dramatic for the Mother of the Groom.”
I chose another and said, “Maybe this blush chiffon with the full skirt?
“No ballroom dresses—you’re too short to pull that off,” she said.
When I saw a beautiful velvet gown, I gushed, “I love this dress!”
“No velvet,” she snapped, “Velvet is never suitable for a beach wedding.”
I started to feel pinned down.
Gwen ushered me toward the fitting room, saying, “Let’s relax here while I pull some selections for you.”
Then I was alone. I began to take off my jeans, fumbling with the zipper, and suddenly self-conscious and too self-aware of my reflection in the three-way mirror. Jeez, look at my underwear! Definitely representing the granny panties.
My thoughts turned to the wedding. It’s no more than a month away. The destination is Cancun. I can picture it: Matt and Shannan standing together on the golden sand in the glow of the shimmering sun, which sparkles on the blue Caribbean Sea. The wind catches and plays with the hem of Shannan’s veil like the tail of a kite. I will try like hell not to cry, and fail, tears turning my carefully applied makeup to watercolors. The Hubster will squeeze my hand.
Where does the time go? I asked my reflection.
Somehow, I am the mother of the groom. That title didn’t occur to me when Matt was six months old and I carried him everywhere on my hip. His baby smiles and drooly chin made for sweet wet kisses on Momma’s cheek. I guess I somehow thought he was always going to be mine. Sometimes I call him Junior, not in the tradition of a father’s namesake, but because he’s so much like me. He’s bright, with unpredictably refreshing wit. He’s caring and sensitive and wonderfully human.
As I sat on the edge of the fitting room chair, I realized that over these last six months leading up to this wedding, I’ve been happily distracted, okay—IN LOVE with my grandbaby Violet. I am her Mimi, and one of her daily caregivers while Kay is at work.
I looked again at my reflection in the three-way mirror. The fluorescent glow confirmed signs of middle age: absentee waistline, dimples on the wrong cheeks. I probably sighed. Why do fitting rooms have such uninspiring lighting? I asked The Universe.
But then I took a second look. Yes, the underwear was still awful. But this five-feet-two-inches woman’s body nourished and carried and nurtured two beautiful and healthy babies, babies who have become astonishingly amazing and gorgeous adults. My little family is all grown up. What a tremendous accomplishment.
Gwen’s knock at the door startled me. I turned the handle, and she walked in holding a dress with all the color and sparkle of a glass of champagne. She twirled the dress a bit, and said, “This dress is worthy of the mother of the groom.”
She quickly removed it from the hangar, pulled down the zipper, and held it out for me. I stepped into its loveliness, placed my arms through capped sleeves, and stood holding my breath while Gwen zipped me into it.
“It fits you perfectly,” she said, and stood beside me.
I turned to the mirror. The dress looked and felt fabulous. Its golden shimmering lace complimented my skin. The flouncy peplum resurrected my waistline. Gwen had done her job well.
I am the mother of the groom. My boy has found the love of his life. We will have a day of high spirits celebrating their love. Oh, how beautifully life goes on!