Love Thy Mother-In-Law

Where does one put her individuality and feminism aside for the greater good? This is the question I face.

I’m talking about our processional at our wedding. What I didn’t know is that it is Jewish tradition for the parents to not only walk their child down the aisle but to also stand under the huppah with them. For various reasons mostly dealing with logistics, we had decided that only us, our son, and the rabbi would be under the huppah. Needless to say, this was quite the punch to my mother-in-laws gut. However, she accepted this with the consolation that she would still get to walk her son down the aisle.

That’s where the issue begins. I didn’t want my parents to walk me down the aisle. As a thirty-two year old mother who has been on her own in the world for quite a while, I felt that no one needed to “give” me away. I am giving myself to Alx. To add to this, there is some heavy water under the bridge when it comes to my relationship with my father. I’ve come a long way in life emotionally but on this issue I’m torn. Do I put aside my issues and let my parents walk me so Alx’s parents can walk him?

From what I understand, in Judaism this is a symbolic gesture of releasing their child into adulthood. They’ve supported and cared for them under their own roof and they are now escorting them with love to the new home that the child will make with his/her spouse. It’s actually a heart warming ritual but what about when there is unresolved issues between child and parent(s)?

I guess this would be easy if I were Jewish as well because then it would just be. The choice would be made for me out of tradition and ritual.

Alx and I have talked about this intimately and I’ve even spoken with my mother-in-law about it. She understands my position and has selflessly left it up to me. Even though it breaks her heart, she is willing to give up this ritual if it is going to make me uncomfortable. I have to say that I really lucked-out with mother-in-laws. Miki is caring, understanding, easy to talk to, a bit bossy at times but always, always puts her children’s well-being before anything.

She has accepted me as her daughter with open arms and an open heart. This is why I’m in the process of reconciling the issues that are stopping me from participating in this ritual. It bothers me to have my parents walk me but that pales to the heaviness in my heart at taking this away from Alx and his parents. Jewish or not, Alx is extremely close to his family and they are active participants in every aspect of his life. I want to accommodate but I don’t really know how to do that without compromising myself.

Our rabbi says that this situation is a paradox because it’s all in the viewpoint. I can have them walk me and see it as a healing moment or I can focus on the negative and allow that to ruin the moment. I can not walk with them and it might be negative since it is in reaction to the unresolved issues or I can not walk with them and retain my current viewpoint of individuality and self-sufficiency. I think it all boils down to what I’m ready to accept, forgive, and move past.

If I’ve learned anything from Alx’s family, especially his mom, is that love knows no bounds and for family we gladly sacrifice to ensure the happiness and well-being of our loved ones. For my mother-in-law, I am willing to sacrifice. I am willing to endure the pain that it will take to resolve my issues and move-on so that on our beautiful wedding day she can walk her son down the aisle. The thought of this makes me happy. Maybe this was the stimulus that I needed. The last little nudge to take those last painful steps towards forgiveness and closure on a not-so-great chapter of my life.

So, thank you Miki, for being you. For being caring, understanding, easy to talk to, a bit bossy at times but always, always putting your children’s well-being before anything and for being the little nudge that I needed to strive to become healthier, happier, and whole.

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3 thoughts on “Love Thy Mother-In-Law

  1. Why can’t Alx’s parents walk him down the aisle and then you make your dramatic solo entrance? I guess I don’t really understand the dilemma.

    At my wedding, my husband didn’t walk down the aisle, he started at the chuppah. His folks walked down together, without him, then me and my parents.

    People do whatever they want in processionals, it doesn’t have to be symmetric.

  2. Why not have your parents walk you down the aisle and have the Rabbi ask: “Who presents Lula to Alx? That is so much nicer than “Who gives?” You are your own person and cannot be given away. That way, Alx’ parents can walk with him and you have made two sets of parents happy as well as not demeaning yourself. The time you are with your parents is so brief that it will not cause a major trauma in your life.

    That said, the previous poster does make a point. There are no hard and fast rules about the processional. It is also mostly tradition. We do, however, have to compromise some so that we “cover all the bases and don’t step on any toes.”

    Here’s to a very smooth processional, ceremony, and wedding day!

  3. It’s actually a heart warming ritual but what about when there is unresolved issues between child and parent(s)? I guess this would be easy if I were Jewish as well because then it would just be. The choice would be made for me out of tradition and ritual.

    The only way it’d be easy if you were Jewish is if you were marrying Orthodox. Marrying as a liberal Jew means you make the choices within the forms of ritual and tradition.

    I think your Rabbi is right – this is a matter of perspective. Regardless of what you relationship with your father was, he’s not giving you away – he and your mother are both releasing you to your new life with your husband, recognizing that your bond to him is now paramount. Just as Alx’s parents are doing for him, acknowledging his joining to you.

    This walking down the aisle isn’t an honor, it’s an obligation to recognize change. It says nothing about the relationship between you and your father except that he recognizes you and Alx are now your own family.

    I didn’t know the parents were supposed to stand up at the huppah – our Rabbi didn’t mention this (that I recall) and it would have been pretty darn crowded under there. Minhag – local custom for sure.

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