The Sea of Emotions When Your Children Get Married

By: Sandy Churchill

Transitions are tough. I know they are as personal as our fingerprints, because we all react in our own ways, our feelings colored by experience, personality, emotion, people, and perspective. But I didn’t expect the nail salon to hit this point home.

Steph Andy wedding mom and Steph  August 2019.JPG

First, I’d like to say that I am not a “manicure person” at the salon, but rather a once-in-awhile do-it-yourselfer who spends far more time teaching paint nights and ruining her nails than a faithful customer for acrylics, gels, dips, or anything else that looks snazzy and beautiful. But my oldest daughter was getting married, and a wonderful friend suggested we get our nails done. So off to her favorite place we headed, just a day before the big event.

We had just helped with the finishing touches at the reception hall and enjoyed time with the bride-to-be so I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotion to rise and take my heart by storm. A kind gentleman led me to one station, while my friend was perched at another table across the room. Little English was spoken, in fact little conversation at all. Trouble for me because I’m not a regular nail client, had no idea of the steps in the new process, and find it awkward and uncomfortable to sit in silence pretty much anywhere. (Yep—epic fail at all the meditation stuff I’m supposed to be doing.)

So the process was called a “dip,” aptly named because there are several steps to sanding the nail surface, painting on some gooey gel and dipping each nail in a sparkly powder as fine as surf-worn beach sand. The process is deliberate, an arduous process that takes longer than a few coats of polish, and I was assured it would last three weeks or more. Cool. I was happy the time and effort would last since it was a rare indulgence.

Mom Dad before Steph Andy wedding  August 24 2019.JPG

I sat in silence as he methodically dipped each nail into the jar of powder, covering the surface and sweeping off the excess. Since there was no conversation happening, I hyper-focused on the dipping process and pondered the “dip” into the waters of marriage that would be happening for my daughter the next day. At our house this would be the second marriage in 19 months. Two daughters married. How and when did that happen? I gained two sons-in-law and have dipped into the waters of being somebody’s mother-in-law! Two somebodies! My daughters will always be my daughters—I have reminded and promised myself over and over because anxiety and meno-brain need repetition—but they have forged partnerships in the adventure called marriage.

As I pondered this dip, I felt a frozen panic of my own “dip”, growing older, having adult children, facing new waters of in-laws, changing relationships, yet-to-be-established traditions, and future conflict (the optimist in me cringes at this but yes, I realize there will be tiffs and misunderstandings ahead despite any superhuman efforts and wishes for the waters to be forever calm and trouble-free).Steph Andy wedding Tim sunglasses August 24 2019

This dip felt terrifying. I watched each nail come to life with coats of powder and gel-coating, and tried to quell the panic within, forcing myself to focus on the wedding, my daughter’s and son-in-law’s joy, and the blossoming of our family. I reminded myself that the chilly ocean waters in New England—or even an unheated pool—were never boldly embraced with blind courage for me. Nope. I was the chicken who had to “dip” gradually into the waves before my very soul felt shored up enough to take the plunge. And yes, the waters did warm up (or did I warm up?) in a few minutes. So maybe there is hope for this mom, newly dipping into the marriage sea for my children.

And in the meantime, I remind myself that my youngest waits at home, offering a hug and a favorite board game upon my return. I emerged from the salon with my friend, both of us sporting smooth-as-glass nails with a bit of glittery shine. Perhaps the shine is my sign of hope that the “dip” will turn out wonderful.



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