It’s Alyssa again!
Today’s post is from Liz. You know Liz, my moderator partner when Meg was off being fabulous in Italy? Liz is a teacher, married and about to pop out the cutest baby ever. She is also smart, talented, hilarious and will offer to set someone on fire if they make you cry with a comment.
Here’s her take on APW.
Confession- I never really read APW while I was wedding planning.
See, I didn’t find the damn site until it was about 2 months before my wedding, and at that point, Meg was already making her own way down the aisle. How boring is a wedding blog AFTER the wedding? Exactly.* So I didn’t anticipate hanging around.
And then. I got married.
My blog reader was slowly purged of “wedding blogs,” as my taste for dresses and favor ideas started to turn into frustration (I was relieved to be DONE with that crap). But, I still found myself popping into APW off and on. Though other wedding blogs sometimes made me wonder if I could have done this better or that less expensively, APW just showcased awesome lady after awesome lady. Rather than see these weddings in competition with my own (what the eff is up with that, anyway?) I felt a little “you go girl!” every time I saw the beautiful pictures and heard the words of wisdom. The flowers and favors and venues were just as gorgeous as the ones on other sites, but they weren’t the focus. And I was continually reminded of why I had a wedding myself. (hint: it had NOTHING to do with apothecary jars or tea-lights)
But I wasn’t just cheering on these new brides in their new happiness. I also found myself surrounded by wisdom and gentle reminders (and some kicks in the face) about why I got married, why marriage is important, and how I can be both “awesome” and “wife” at the same time. Those reasons I had a wedding? Some of them are the same reasons I work so hard at having a marriage.
And, now, they’ve become reasons I want to be a good mom.
As women (hell, as PEOPLE) once we hit the point of consciousness, we’re suddenly thrust all of these expectations to be a certain way- many of them conflicting and confusing. In high school, you’re expected to be a “good girl” AND sexually appealing, but not a cock tease. In college, you need to be driven but not too driven, smart but not too smart. And the expectations only become more pronounced and more conflicting as you get older- which, to be honest, shocked me. As a moderately self-aware teenager, I thought, “High school sucks. I can’t wait til I’m old enough that people don’t care about my decisions.” But the truth is, the heavier and more adult the decisions, the heavier the pressure to conform.
My wedding brought an onslaught of opinions, and I anxiously waited for that aspect of wedding planning to be over. Then I was married. And I found my marriage was expected to be a certain way. And now I’m pregnant, and already I’m being told why I need to breastfeed, why I should choose formula, why epidurals are the way to go and why it’s best to have natural labor. At this point, I don’t expect the pressure to ever end. And I don’t say that pessimistically or with chagrin. I’m sure that this is just the beginning. But here’s why I’m lucky.
I’m lucky enough to have gone through the bootcamp tail-end of wedding planning with a super-awesome community to back my play- and not just offer support, but help build a safe environment where we get to practice voicing our disagreeing opinions, so we’re ready to do the same in “real life.” Making my own decisions has further prepared me to continue to know my own mind, sift opposing (and often, well-meaning) advice, and eventually choose what’s best for my expanding family. That doesn’t make me a great bride or wife or mom- it makes me a thinking, independent person. I’m sure I could have reached that point on my own- and to some extent I did. (I haven’t been reading APW for 25 years, ya know.) But I can say without a doubt that having an APW community has only strengthened and furthered the process.
I’d like to say I come back to APW a year later because I want to bestow my marital wisdom on new, unsuspecting brides. It’s sorta true- I’m excited for all of you to-be-weds, and I want to help! But marital wisdom? Eh. A little lacking (hullo, only a year in so far). I selfishly come back to APW to glean wisdom for my own little self, though I’m way beyond the wedding-planning phase, and don’t plan to ever go back to that scary place.
I may have mostly planned my wedding the hard way before APW- piecing together my own experiences into life-lessons. But I’m so excited to be surrounded by an encouraging and advising community as I broach another big life change. Those wedding-planning lessons? They translate into marriage-building lessons. And into child-raising lessons. And into life-living and woman-being lessons. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow those.
*This thought will be extra humorous in light of the fact that I still sometimes blog about weddings. A year later. Whoops.