2. Fold in her friends (FOB) and her mother’s friends (FOM)
3. Add a light ladies luncheon
4. Sprinkle in presents from the registry
5. Whip up the oohs and ahhs of the guests as each gift is unwrapped
6. Bake in the admiring, maternal smiles of the mom guests and the giddy excitement of the younger women.
Fashion changes and flare-ups disturb the mom/career DMZ, but bridal showers remain sweetly traditional. Handed down from generation to generation, the “recipe” is one we take turns following as honoree, guest or host – roles that change as we age.
When my friends began to marry shortly after graduating from college, I attended more showers than I have fingers to count. Often, arriving at the home of the host, I began to feel a sense of unease bubbling up inside me. Effusive greetings, “Hello, hi, come in how ARE you?” sounded like a siren song “Your career doesn’t matter, leave it behind, join us at home, join us at home…..” Was I overly sensitive? Definitely. Did I breathe a word of this to anyone? Definitely not.
Walking into their beautiful homes, I feared that the open arms of my mother’s generation might clutch too tightly and sweep me into the roles that they stepped into as post-WWII brides. Many married young, had babies shortly thereafter, and I don’t think that many had careers, at least in the way I defined a capital C-career.
While in high school in the seventies I looked out the windows of my small world and saw women speaking up and asking for the chance to study or work or have lives that varied from the traditional model. (I explain to my teenage daughter, more often than she would like, that her vast opportunities were not always the case. “Mom, I get it.”)
So, when it was my time to be the B, I felt ……ambivalence. I just hope that the very kind and generous friends of my own sweet mother who hosted my bridal shower didn’t see all the way through to my reluctant core.
It may have taken a quarter century for me to realize, but I now understand why we, the older generation, are typically thrilled when a younger woman decides to marry. By sharing our traditions we are not trying to indoctrinate her into becoming a certain type of woman but are, instead, welcoming her into the ranks of married women. We hope that she will have good health and happiness with her husband for many years to come – words that can easily be found on any Hallmark card but, despite their overuse, happen to be true.
Do we presume to dictate answers to these questions: Have children? Pursue a career? Be a stay at home mom? Both? Neither? Absolutely not. We know that she, and her husband, will face dilemmas for which the answers will be far from easy. Many of us have stared those same questions in the face and, without blinking, made up our minds and lived with the consequences. My secret wish for each new bride is this – that she rely on her good judgement as she approaches all the exciting, scary and wonderful decisions that lie ahead. In discovering the answers and living the life that results, she will create her own unique future.