Take a breath and keep your cool

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2011

I can give a good speech. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband, one of my children or any of the young men who have dated my daughters. Yes, I can talk the talk. I did so again as I sat in a meeting with the couple Monique chose to photograph her wedding.

Monique is my oldest child and the first to marry. She is also the one with the title “Most Likely to Stress Out Anytime, Anywhere.” As the photographers reviewed their agenda for capturing her wedding, they paused to explain that they would stop shooting if Monique appeared stressful and would proceed only when she was more relaxed.

Monique looked at me, and I looked at her, and we were probably both thinking the same thing, “We’re not going to have one single picture of the bride on her wedding day.” I seized the moment and launched into an impromptu speech.

“Ok, time out,” I began, “Monique, you’ve never been married before. We have never had a Monique wedding. Just as I don’t compare you to anyone else, I will not compare your wedding to any other. We have planned the details, the things we can control, and have followed through with the appropriate actions.

Whatever happens on the day of the wedding, even the little surprises, will be handled calmly and will only make memories which will combine to make a perfect Monique wedding.”

Pretty good speech, right? At least I thought so. Yes, I can talk the talk, but walking the walk is a little more challenging. It’s been said that life happens after you have made other plans. In my case, life happened after I delivered my speech.

Monique tried on her wedding dress, an activity she enjoys frequently and with growing anticipation of her wedding. As soon as she modeled the dress, Gucci, Victoria’s maltipoo, walked over and sat on the train. Surprisingly, for Monique is not quite an animal lover, she smiled as we talked about the dog’s habit of sitting on the train of the dress. I removed the dog to work on the hem and asked Monique to walk around to be sure the dress was exactly as she wanted it. After a few alterations, including the removal of Gucci from the dress, Monique walked around the room, smiling with every step. Still seated on the floor, I reached out to adjust the train of the dress and instantly froze. The dress was wet.

Oblivious to the problem but well aware of my sudden silence, Monique asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Your dress is wet,” I said very softly. Although I’ve been known to raise my voice when I am really upset, I withdraw and become very quiet.

“Oh, it’s probably water,” Monique said.

“No. It’s. Not.” I said as I walked away. I returned with wet towels and began to dab the train of the dress. Fortunately, the lining underneath had absorbed most of the result of Gucci’s accident. As I worked on the dress, I kept thinking, “This afternoon I paid to have this dog groomed. Tonight I’m getting rid of her.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Monique insisted.

“It’s. Your. Wedding. Dress,” I answered.

“Mom, it’s the train. It’s the back of the dress. It’s the hem of the back of the dress. And I’m getting married at night, outside. Even if it leaves a stain, who’s going to notice? This is just going to be a funny memory.”

I wasn’t ready to laugh; however, I was overwhelmed at the maturity of my daughter as she continued, “I’m not even worried about the wedding anymore. I just want to be married to Frank.”

The dress was not stained. I began to speak normally again. And days later, at the rehearsal, I turned to see a look on Monique’s face I knew to be in response to the news that the weather may force her wedding indoors. “No problem,” I thought, “I have a speech for that.” Before I could start to walk toward her, I noticed Frank begin to talk to her, and I watched as she took control of her emotions. Later she said, “Mom, I just want what’s best for everyone. If the wedding’s inside, I’ll be fine.”

I am so grateful for Frank, who apparently has a few speeches of his own. For Monique, who is now earning the title “Queen of Calm.” And for the fact that the wedding is almost here. A wedding Gucci will not be attending.

Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.