28 April 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

2020 was going to be a big year for my kids. A high school graduation. Two college graduations. A wedding. 

Turns out, 2020 is a big year for my kids. And also for all the kids worldwide. Just not for the reasons we planned or expected.

Yesterday, my oldest kids (because they’re both my kids now) made the tough decision to postpone their June wedding to some unknown time in the future.

But in a twist that sure seems fateful now, they’re already hitched.

They have been since September.

After weeks of conversations with their financial aid advisor, and weighing the pros and cons, and calculating student debt, and realizing a) they stood to save a lot of money as married college students, and b) they would get married in June anyway, they decided to have a legal ceremony.

They called to let us know, from college in Hawaii, that they were headed to a Justice of the Peace the next morning. Everything else about their senior year would remain the same including living separately with their roommates as previously planned. The June wedding would be the real ceremony and celebration. No need for us to fly to Hawaii, they said. They had it covered, they said. No big deal, they said.

But my mama heart said BIG DEAL. And I wanted to be there, whether it was just technical legality or not. 

IF YOU WILL WAIT FOR ME, I said, I WILL BUY YOU DINNER AND FLOWERS. And they’re poor college students, so I had them at free food. They were sold. They were having an engagement party anyway. We could roll the wedding into the engagement party and two birds/one stone the situation. And I was online buying tickets in minutes, paying no attention to my budget or my plans or my mental health or anything other than showing up for my kid… and my kid-to-be. 

I’ll be honest, though; given the way Depression reared its head while we were there — a consequence of both brain chemistry and the inability to care for myself while I was laser focused on caring for them — I wondered later whether I should’ve gone.

Was it a mistake?

Should I have stayed home?

Should we have let them do their thing without me playing the role of Interfering Mommy switching the venue from the courthouse to the beach and the officiant from a judge to a minister? 

 

Even though they were glad we were there? Even though it emphasized in a Real Way everything I’ve ever told my kids about Being There for Each Other and Supporting Their Decisions and Loving Each Other Well?

It’s human, I suppose, to second guess ourselves, but even in hindsight and knowing the mental consequences, I didn’t regret it. I’d do the same thing again. I’d do it a hundred more times. A thousand. In every timeline, I’d choose to be there.

The cost would have to be way higher to regret showing up for my people.

And I felt that way before I knew that the real wedding — the longed-for celebration with family and friends — would be postponed indefinitely due to a global pandemic.

Before I knew that this would be the real-est wedding possible for a while.

Before I knew we wouldn’t be back in May to celebrate their graduation.

Before I knew that was the last time I’d visit them while they were still in college.

Before I knew I wouldn’t get to help them pack or move or say good-bye to four years of their lives and the place they met.

Before I knew they’d be starting their life together in circumstances far more uncertain of the future and more unpredictable than generations before them.

And now that I know all that? It just drives home the importance of Showing Up. Never have I ever been more glad I ignored Logic and Fiscal Responsibility in favor of Following My Heart to My Humans. 

I feel like it’s fair at this point if Greg is worried I’m going to come out of this pandemic the least reasonable, most irresponsible person of all time, listening only to my heart and my gut and parking my brain on the sidelines for eternity.  

But I gotta say, that’s likely.

He’s right to be scared. 😉 

With love,

 

 

 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
21 comments
  1. Thanks for the recap and sharing the wonderful pictures. I’m sure it was a memorable event. As the parents of the groom, I wish someone would have the courtesy and decency to have reached out and given us the opportunity to have participated or at least the awareness – but unfortunately that email didn’t come until 6 weeks later.

    1. Under normal circumstances, it would be hard to believe that the bride and groom wouldn’t have told his parents anything about the ceremony. From what I’ve experienced, this type of thing only seems to happen in cases of significant falling out- a dramatic experience of parents being radically unsupportive, history of controlling or manipulative behaviors, or total lack of respect for the boundaries, choices, and agency of the ADULT child. (Or, in truly awful situations, all of the above. Bless whatever child endures THAT.)

      This passive aggressive public barb (aimed at your son? new daughter-in-law? the author, who is now your extended in-law family?) miiiiiiiight just hint at why you weren’t inner circle on this one.

      I sure don’t see much respect or understanding in your comment. Just guessing that maybe your kids didn’t either?

      1. Under normal circumstances and what you’ve experienced… perhaps true, but while there can be similarities, each situation, each person’s history / values / perspectives / truth is unique and cannot be covered by generalities, especially without complete, holistic understanding.

        Your response is why I more often than not remain silent instead of expressing my truth and my feelings. What I said was accurate – appreciated they recap, the pictures are wonderful, and how can getting married on a beach in Hawaii not be memorable. I would liked to have been informed. I/we may have also been online in minutes booking flights if I had known.

        Who was the target of my passive aggressive public barb? Perhaps my son. Perhaps my daughter in law. Perhaps the extended family. Perhaps friends of the groom. Perhaps friends of the bride. Perhaps everyone. Perhaps no one. Perhaps it’s just an expression of frustration and sorrow of not being at (or knowing about) this life event. Perhaps it’s not understanding the financial pros and cons that prompted accelerating the date. Perhaps a degree of all of the above….. Don’t know.

        I’m sorry that I posted, apparently choosing the wrong words to express my feelings in doing so. I would have avoided insinuations of being manipulative, controlling, not respecting boundaries…

    2. For real?! This is cold. No surprise to any of us here in the comments section why you found out later. Yikes

      Mazel tov to the beautiful couple! (And to the angry father: may you know peace, may you listen deeply, may you release, and may you be restored to a rich relationship with both of your your adult children before you lose the opportunity .)

      1. Appreciate the wishes that you expressed in the parentheses. My wishes as well.

    3. Mark, you and Penny have raised a wonderful son. We’d love to see you in Oregon for the “real” wedding, whenever that may happen. Chandler has said often how much he hopes you both will come. Wishing you and yours well.

  2. My niece and her now-husband had a wedding date set and then he was told he should expect to be deployed a few months before (was in the Air Force; he ended up not deploying then, but that’s another story). For various reasons (including expecting their first child), they decided to move the wedding up but had an extremely small one – her parents’ back yard, with only their siblings, parents and grandparents in attendance. Then they celebrated their 5th anniversary with a vow renewal and “the wedding they would have had”.

    1. ❤️ I love that they found a creative way to be married and also celebrate later.

  3. The mama gut should always be listened to. Always. Finances will work themselves out and mental health is always a question (and I really know all about this). Congratulations to you all!!

  4. Congratulations to the whole family!
    My oldest was to be married June 20th also. They just this week changed it to October, hoping family can travel here by then. If not, it will be moved again. Showing up is very important.

    1. Thanks! We’re so happy for them, even though THIS IS THE WEIRDEST TIMELINE. Wishing your oldest a wonderful October wedding. ❤️

  5. YAY FOR FOLLOWING HEARTS!! So happy for all of you. The regrets you’d had when all of this virus stuff hit would have done WAY worse for your mental health than going to see your kid get married. I’m go glad you went. These pictures are so beautiful, they just radiate with love and happiness. Something everyone needs to see, thank you for sharing!! Congrats to the lovebirds!

    1. It was a gorgeous day full of gorgeous, happy humans. ❤️

  6. I’m so very happy for you, for them, for everybody involved!!

    On another note, I don’t think Greg will really be surprised. 😉 You’re awesome just the way you are. I think he knows that too

    1. Ha! You’re right — Greg won’t be surprised at all. I feel like he’s had a 25 year heads-up.

  7. I am so glad that you went there even though the costs were high and you had no idea of what was coming. There are people I regret not visiting earlier this year because I was trying to finish a big piece of work. At the same time I am so grateful that I visited my parents hundreds of miles away three times in the space of two months – unusual for me. Maybe this will be a lesson in overcoming procrastination because we have all seen how quickly everything can change. A time to think about what is really important to us.
    And…I am so sorry that your daughter’s planned wedding celebration can’t go ahead as planned. I can imagine the battle of hope against reason. xo

    1. It sounds like you visited exactly the people you needed to. ❤️ And I think you’re exactly right — this experience will help all of us set our priorities in the future. We can learn from everything if we’re open and willing.

  8. Oh, I am SO GLAD that they had that ceremony and you were there!
    (My husband and I might have given that sort of advice to our own kids, so there’s that… but then that just makes all of us smart, right?)
    No regrets! Congrats to them and to you!

    1. Yes! No regrets!

      When Abby was younger, I told her NOT to get married too young. FYI, too young = as young as I was when I got married which was too young for me because there’s nothing quite like making someone else’s life all about ME. I told her to wait until 25 or older. But NOPE. She got married as young as I did because she’s her own grown-ass human with her own grown-ass ideas. They’re happy, so I am, too. And HONESTLY, IF I HAD KNOWN HOW MUCH CHEAPER COLLEGE IS FOR MARRIED PEOPLE, I WOULD’VE TOLD HER TO GET MARRIED AT 18. OK — maybe I wouldn’t have, but I would’ve been TEMPTED. I already told my 13-year-olds they’re gonna need to start picking out partners because they’ve only got 4.5 years left until they have to get College Married, too — we’re calling it a FAFSA Marriage. Sadly, they know I’m joking.

      1. Bwahahaha, FAFSA Marriage! My oldest married halfway through uni and it was not only great for FAFSA but also housing costs. (Do it early enough to get on the list for housing.) None of his brothers have followed in his footsteps, though.
        ¯\_(ﺕ)_/¯

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