A Mother's Perspective

Continued (page 2 of 2)

That day, when I returned to the shop with my glasses, Amanda had already found two dresses in the racks that would fit her growing belly. Simple and elegant. I thrilled to the idea of seeing her in one: a regular wedding gown at her most irregular wedding. As my daughter held each one by the hanger, telling me which aspects she liked and which she didn’t, the clerk stayed quiet. She looked over at me as Amanda described tearing out and redesigning the sleeves of one of the dresses, removing the flashy rhinestones and replacing them with a string of leather flowers made by a friend. Really? The clerk’s eyes seemed to say. Perhaps reading too much into the glance, I silently begged Amanda to accept one thing as it was, to wear the dress the way it was meant to be worn.

The three of us walked toward a dressing room whose door opened to a carpeted platform surrounded by mirrors. I stayed outside clutching my purse and Amanda’s bag while the clerk entered with my daughter, but only a minute passed before she stuck her head out and beckoned to me. I walked over and saw Amanda stripped down to bra and underwear, the lizard tattoo on her torso, normally quite small, now stretched green and black across the curve of her belly. Another tattoo of a sharp-eared devil face shone from her forearm. “You know,” the clerk said as she handed me the heavy garment, gleaming white and pleated in layers, “I think I’m going to let you take it from here.” Then she scurried away, leaving us to break the shop’s cardinal rule. I closed the door, gathered the dress in my hands and lowered it over Amanda’s head. I watched it fall around her, soft and ethereal as a wedding gown should be. She smiled at me: self-contained, calm and as deserving as any other bride. But when I stepped back a bit to gaze at the ensemble in a mirror, I saw that she was right: The dress wasn’t quite her. And just like that, I got it. Amanda would need to pull out the seams and restitch, adding details that suited her; she would have to turn this gown into a better reflection of who she was. Relieved that such understanding could be mine, I reached out to hold her hands and gave in to the alterations the dress had to undergo if it was to be worn at my daughter’s wedding. Like everything else in her life, Amanda would take it apart and put it back together again. She’d do it the way she wanted, not the way I wanted. And I’d have to figure out how to be just fine with that.

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