We opened our last wedding present this weekend. In August we will have been married for twelve years, and we finally got around to using one of the gifts. The two-bedroom, six-person tent that we have lugged through eight moves, came out of its packaging on Saturday. Big Sprout and Papa Sprout spent about forty-five minutes putting up the poles, setting in the stakes and prepping for a night of campfires and tent-talking. Talk about delayed gratification! There was something so magical about sharing the initial use of this gift with our kids.
The tent was a present from a group of our college friends. It was likely intended for our use as a newly-married couple, and they probably had no idea that we would be too scattered during the first part of our marriage to use it. I can hardly believe that it has taken us twelve years to feel settled enough to set down those stakes, but we finally are. The tent is now safely housed at our cabin, and I anticipate years of memories, but the tent stories will primarily belong to our children.
I think I've always known that this was going to be the way. It never bothered me that we moved the tent box without opening it, because I knew we would, and I knew we would open it with our kids.
It makes me pause when our kids ask questions about our wedding. It feels like they were there. It's still strange to me that they weren't. We talked this weekend that we should renew our vows at our twentieth anniversary, so that the kids can be a part of the celebration. They have earned their time in our wedding tent.
It is so symbolic for me that we opened the tent on this particular weekend. I had an epiphany of sorts about wedding miracles. We went to a beautiful wedding on Friday, and the shift in my mentality was clear. I used to cry watching the ceremonies because of what emotions I remembered from my own wedding, but the tears fell at this ceremony in remembrance of our wedding but also in anticipation of the weddings for our kids. I was crying from the perspective of a mother, and I admittedly had more tears. Mothers have the emotional perspective of going through their own days, and the overwhelming reactions of letting go.
I am starting to understand the possible tension that happens with mothers and daughters and mothers-in law and daughters-in-law. It is part of a chapter I've been formulating for the Choosing to Grow book, and it all came together for me this weekend. My understanding mimics the popping of the tent. As a bride I saw weddings in one dimension, much like the flattened out version. Through my research I realized that in order to fully appreciate the complexity of the full-family wedding experience there is some building that needs to be done first. The husband and the wife each bring their own parts of the tent, and they are uniquely equipped with their own tools, handed down from families and established through experiences. Recognizing the uniqueness of this union opens someone up to appreciation. When the tent is completely assembled, it is a three-dimensional reality of wedding bliss, complete with past, present and future. I am beginning to look at weddings from the perspective of a previous bride, as a newlywed, and now as the mother of children who will eventually lay out their own wedding experience. It is three-dimensional and I am grateful to have my 3-D glasses.
The mother of the bride commented as we were leaving the Friday wedding, "It is amazing to see the layering of their lives manifested here in one day." It is most definitely layering that happens. We are building the base layer for what our kids will take to their wedding tent, and there will be countless layers added in the years to come. My greatest hope for them is that they can appreciate the three-dimensions of the wedding tent much earlier than twelve years after it happens....but it's really never too late to put up the tent, right?!?