I’ve gotten multiple emails in the last few weeks requesting posts on Mamadrama (as we’re calling it… Papadrama just doesn’t have the same ring). I realized it was high time I wrote a post about the stress of families and weddings, but I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Obviously telling sob stories about family stress wasn’t the way to go (that’s just depressing and not even constructive). After a query on Twitter, Sarah suggested “I see all Mamadrama as an opportunity to Man Up (as it were) and assert some real adulthood. It’s about a healthy separation.” And I realized that was exactly it. So this post is about Boundaries, and about the way that weddings are still a huge life transition for most of us, even if we don’t think about it that way.
The thing is, when we get married, we are starting a brand new family. Even if we’ve dated and lived with our partner for years, the world didn’t really look at us as a family in the Official Sense until now. But for me, the noticeable shift was internal. Suddenly, when making decisions, I felt more loyalty to David than to my family of origin, and at first I found this shocking and slightly unnerving. It’s not that I *didn’t* feel loyalty to my family of origin (of course I did), but I suddenly emotionally realized that my future, and my kids future, lay between the two of us, and my choices needed to reflect that.
That change made for some interesting wedding negotiations. There were times one of us had a really strong opinion on something – a really strong emotional need – and the other persons parents had the opposite opinion. When that happened, we’d have to talk through the fact that, while it might be easier for the child to just agree with their parents and be done with it, that wasn’t how we were going to do things as a new family. We had to begin to learn the process of sticking up for our wife/husband’s needs, even if that meant disagreeing with our parents.
So we practiced. And we practiced. And there were tears, and there was yelling. Sometimes we did it with more grace, and sometimes we did it with less grace. But I’m really glad that we practiced with things that, in the end, are as insignificant as wedding details, because next time the decisions might be very significant indeed.
It comes back to the idea that the wedding day is not your day – it’s everyone’s day, but the wedding is *your* wedding, just like the family you are forming is your family. And it’s a very small baby family, and it needs to be protected while it grows. And protecting and nurturing your fledgling family, is totally different from doing it YOUR way because it’s YOUR day, no?
So Mamadrama? It happens to ALL of us. Sometimes it’s big and horrible, and sometimes its small and icky. But you know what? The fact that it is happening lets you learn to draw boundaries, and then insist that people honor them. It makes you practice being a family. So it sucks,* but in the end it’s worth it. You learn what you need to learn, and you practice being bravely and fully on your own side, and on the side of your family of choice.
No go out and be brave. Brave and graceful and firm (with only a little bit of yelling).
And please, share your Mamadrama tips and tricks in the comments.
*Please honor that. Nothing is wrong with you, you are not broken. Sucking is normal.