A few days ago I received a text from my newly married couple. Two words: “We arrived.”
Those two words told me everything – they had arrived at their new apartment a week after the wedding and the ensuing celebrations. Although I would have liked just a bit of a longer text (2 words? Come on?), I understood that they were busy and needed to get on. School, work, life. They have things to do.
And there’s another piece here. After a couple gets married they need space from their parents in the first weeks of their marriage. Actually, the first year – known as “shanah rishonah” in Hebrew is a time for the new couple to bond.
The couple needs settling and so do we, the parents. Our family recently celebrated the wedding of our fourth son (mazel tov!) and it takes more than a few days (weeks?) for us as the parents to settle back into what was pre-couple normal. Things have been kind of hectic around here ever since these two individuals – our son and his lovely wife met each other over six months ago, dated, became an engaged couple, and then….the wedding a few weeks ago!
Fatigue, stress, anxiety and endless to-do lists. Those are only part of the equation of making a simcha. So yes, for the past three months we’ve been preparing a wedding which took a lot of emotional and physical preparation. Getting acquainted with a new family, dealing with many different people and accommodating many kinds of events brings out the best (hopefully not the worst!) in all of us. We were in constant contact with each other, communicating various plans via email, texts and phone calls.
The day after we returned from Cleveland where the wedding took place, telltale signs of the simcha were visible. Many who make these parties and events will relate; there were chairs that had to be returned, thank you cards to be written, fridge and freezer leftovers to be dealt with, and some empty suitcases still lying around.
But now, all that has been cleared away. The suitcases are back in storage, the chairs returned to their owners, most of the thank-you’s written, and my house has a semblance of order.
As we accept the always welcome Mazel Tov wishes from friends and acquaintances in the market, some of us are getting over the colds and viruses that we caught on the plane or from one another as we traveled. Stress of the excitement and pressure catches up to us and our immunities are lowered, bringing out those upper-respiratory infections in many of our family. Thank G-d for Z-Pac. It works wonders (many thanks to Dr. U – my internist who found time for us in his schedule!).
And then – and then — we move on. The couple is settled into their new home and they are a separate couple. Besides for the occasional gift that comes to our house and gets placed in our upstairs guest room (for the next time they visit), we really have little day-to-day activities revolving around the wedding.
Yes, there are bills to be paid, work to be done (to pay those bills!) and more mazel tovs to be accepted. There are the pictures to choose from the photographer’s proofs, and copies to be made at Walgreens and Kinkos. It’s all a lot of fun and pleasant. These activities are what I’m supposed to be doing.
These activities of choosing and framing pictures, giving thank-you gifts to kind friends, and writing thank you notes to those whom I appreciate, are all appropriate social behaviors for mother of the groom to do post-wedding.
I enjoy these tasks. But I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the void in my heart that I can’t just pick up the phone and call my son and daughter-in-law anymore. They are a new couple with their own life and my job is to give them that space. This is something I remind myself for each one of our kids as they grow and fly the coup.
I go back to work, visit my clients who I’ve neglected for the past few weeks, and spend time with my husband. I call my mother a little more often, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law too, and I spend more quality time chatting with my grandsons. Things are a bit more relaxed.
Still, the void is there. And that’s okay. That space in my heart where I was preoccupied with this son and his bride can be filled with hope and love and warmth and pride. That excitement of planning and thinking about them is now redirected to moving forward in my own life and things that I enjoy doing for myself. (pictures of kids counts as doing for myself!).
As I write a list of “things to tell the new couple” when they call before Shabbos, I remind myself that this exact situation is what my husband and I have prayed for. We don’t want to hover and want our children to be on their own.
We don’t want to be picking up the phone every time something pops into our heads of what to tell them. This is the time to refrain from overwhelming. To sift, filter, and perhaps pick up that phone – only to put it back down again.
The good news? Shana Rishona is one year only. Not more. Okay – two weeks down. Fifty more to go. I can handle this.