This piece was was published in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June13, 2002.
“I did it, Mom, I’m married,” my normally reticent son was uncharacteristically buoyant.
He called me on his new bride’s cell phone from the courthouse in Manhattan, minutes
after the ceremony, on August 28, 2001. It was sudden, it was unexpected, it was a
As I spoke to him I recalled many moments from my son’s childhood – times we were linked by understanding, not by words. I remembered the time he got lost, at age six,
just three days after we moved to Los Angeles. I had not yet taught him his new address and phone number. The Missing Children Unit of the LAPD went looking for him. I was scared out of my mind, but on an intuitive level knew he was okay.
He didn’t learn to walk, he ran. The trips to the emergency room grew less frequent
as I learned to cope. I didn’t flinch as I watched him jump gracefully from trees and walls. He always landed on his feet. He fought forest fires with the National Forest Service,
departed for Australia with the California Conservation Corps and then moved to New
I watched with fascination and anticipation, not worry and regret. The lesson I learned
early on has served me well; it doesn’t pay to be a worry-wart mom.
Maybe it’s because I married on short notice at the courthouse thirty six years ago, or
maybe it’s because we are a very independent family, but I felt nothing but happiness
for my son and his bride. His sister, who stood up for him at the ceremony, got on the
phone and described the joyous day in her inimitable style.
“Mom, the bride threw the bouquet at me and it bounced off my chest like a boomerang,
so she tied it to my wrist with a ribbon.” Everyone was having fun, everyone was happy.
No one caused a scene, made a pass at the maid-of-honor, or otherwise spoiled a
Our daughter served as best man and sister all in one. The best man idea was
tongue-in-cheek, perfectly in keeping with a wedding free from convention, planning and
Having children of marriageable age, I see how families handle marrying off their kids.
I’m glad my son opted for the impromptu approach. I’ve attended weddings that cost as
much as a down-payment on a house. Invariably, tension permeated the proceedings.
The celebration of love and the age-old words of promise belong in the mouths of the
young lovers who speak them and shouldn’t be controlled by the old folks, hovering
around and complicating matters.
Invariably at the big extravaganzas, orchestrated and financed by the parents, there
are tales of mothers threatening to boycott the wedding the night before, drunken
revelers who wreak havoc, brides and grooms lost in the shuffle and stretched to the breaking point.
As I spread the happy news to my relatives and friends, most of them asked why I was
not distraught because I wasn’t there for the ceremony. They may think I am a mother
who doesn’t care about weddings and tradition and all that jazz. Perhaps they are right.
I accept my eccentric son, with his sudden decisions and his stress seeking nature.
This decision, I strongly suspect, was the best of the best. His sister sent photos galore
of the happy occasion via e-mail later that day.
She had shots of the bride and groom heading for the courthouse on the subway. At the
courthouse, the wedding party posed outside the chapel, all of them under the age of
thirty. The bride and groom posed on a bright summer morning outside the courthouse,
beginning their married life with an abundance of youthful optimism.
My son has run headlong into what life has to offer for all of his twenty-five years.
This new adventure holds the promise of commitment and growth, fun and adventure.
I wish my son and his new wife well on their mutual journey. His father and I stand well in the wings, cheering them on.
Kathleen Vallee Stein