At every family gathering where old folks linger, the inevitable “Kids these days…” statement begins woeful tales of the ever widening generation gap and the head-wagging that follows. Just so we all know in which generation I belong, I admit that I’ve caught myself uttering this same phrase lately.
In the past two months, we’ve had two weddings in our family. Very different in structure and very different timelines for each. My oldest son announced his engagement and completed his non-traditional civil ceremony within a matter of weeks. I barely had time to cry! Forget planning and fretting. My brother’s middle daughter got married this month in a beautiful beach ceremony that had been months in the planning. My sister-in-law and brother had plenty of time to fret and plan, and the ceremony and festivities proceeded as smoothly as the flowing waters of the tidal creek upon which we celebrated into the night.
I wasn’t ready for my son to get married, but who is ever ready for their children to grow up and become independent. I dare say my brother and his wife were not quite ready to let my niece fly into the great unknown of married life either. I’m reminded of when my son started kindergarten, and I declared to my husband, “Just when I got him trained and fun to be around, they take him away.” I felt much the same when I watched him take his first steps into manhood and the sanctity of marriage.
Some kids these days are getting married younger than their parents did but probably not younger than their grandparents. Some kids these days remain single long into young adulthood. Kids these days take different paths to the altar of marriage, some traditional, some not. As one of my friends observed, “In our day, a wedding was perhaps more about the parents and their values, inviting the family and all the right friends. Nowadays, kids seem to make the wedding more about themselves and what they want it to be.” Whose approach is the correct one? Can anyone decide that better than the bride and groom?
Trying to remind myself that I, too, was married when I was my son’s age, I reflect on the reason we work so hard as parents: to help our children grow into productive and independent adults. While they are doing it sooner than we thought and maybe earlier than we had hoped, my son and niece are making their own way in the world. They have chosen their life partners and are forging their own trails. Success as a parent never tasted so bittersweet.