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The Wilder Life: 2016

06/07/2016 08:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey

The Art of Walking Away

By Amanda Jean Harris

Wilder was in his first wedding. He was one of two ring bearers with his “best bud” since birth. He wore a tuxedo. Be still my beating momma heart. It was nearly too much to deal with. Nearly. Cuteness level: Pile of fuzzy kittens. 

Before the wedding, they were kind of terrible. They were certain to ruin the wedding. Not just do the cute little kid shenanigans that make a wedding memorable, but ruin it. 

I don’t know what exactly a ring bearer has to do to officially ruin a wedding. I think it’s far more likely that the mother of the ring bearer would be the one to ruin the wedding by running down the aisle trying to contain an errant ring bearer. Because kids acting crazy — still cute. Mommas acting crazy — not so cute. (I made sure to wear a cute dress just in case I became a crazy momma I would at least do it with some panache.)

We talked about the procedure on ring bearing. We read the sweet book the bride thoughtfully purchased. We got fitted for the tux. More cuteness. 

And then the rehearsal was upon us and we handed these little cherubs the beautifully crafted white pillows. (Made by the talented hands of the sweet bride.) And the momma end of the conversation went something like this.

The pillow is not for sleeping. You’re not going to take a nap. That pillow is for the rings. It’s not a weapon. It’s for the ring. No, you are not a ninja. And why would a ninja use a pillow? That’s not a thing. That is the church aisle, not a racetrack. This is not a race! You don’t win if you get to the end first. There are no winners! 

The rehearsal was pretty much a bust. I assumed it was related to no naps and an exciting day on a zoo field trip and adrenaline at seeing the look on the adults’ faces as they watched the ring bearers do everything, but bear a ring. I just knew the big day would be different than the busted rehearsal. On the day of the big day us mommas felt sure they would behave in a more dapper fashion upon donning their tuxedos. We were naïve.

Boys will be boys. Right? It’s so cute when they mess up in a wedding. I mean how bad can it be. Right? Unless it’s your child. The bride was the babysitter for our robust little men and I thought more than once. “Does she know what she’s gotten herself into? Has she met my son?”

We arrived hours before the ceremony in time for pictures and they made laps around the church with moms in heels chasing more than once. I may have gritted my teeth and said “you better lock it up.” More than once. (More than twice.)

And then finally we stood in the back of the church. The bride on her father’s arm waiting to walk the aisle and our little men pausing for the first time in what felt like a year.

I sat on the ground, held a suddenly calm Wilder and looked over to see my dear friend doing the same thing — her fast moving little man sitting so contently snuggled in
her arms. 

Our little men looked a lot like babies. For five solid seconds. And in that moment I knew that there was something both solid and intangible for my son about my presence. I knew I was home base. That in the frantic moments or the pregame I would always be here. Home base. The launching spot. Even if just for a moment. 

And then they were up.

I told Wilder he was awesome. He had this. I wasn’t totally sure if it was true. But I knew we had in a matter of a few days done all the preparing that can be done for a simple walk down an aisle holding a pillow. 

But, it turns out the sweet bride knew these boys better than we did. When it came time, they calmed and then they walked. At half speed. Slow. Like turtles. No doubt our voices ringing in the background. DO NOT RUN DOWN THAT AISLE! IT IS NOT A RACE!

We stood in the back watching them walk away ever so very slowly. (So. Very. Slowly.) And isn’t that what motherhood is?

Wondering and hoping and praying they are going to do the thing. Whatever it is. Passing the test or using the potty or learning how to eat with a fork. Everything moves fast and then faster. And then suddenly they are doing the thing you wondered if they would ever do. And every bit of it, every step of it is them walking away. And that’s the point.

Today it’s about the proper use of a ring bearer pillow or a wiffle ball bat. Neither are weapons, BTW. And then it will be driving and it will be dating and it will be how to use their own voice to help others, not hurt them. How to lead and how to serve. And then it will be their time to walk away and to do the thing called life. 

And I think it’s easy to want to walk down the aisle right next to them. Just in case. Just in case. I mean JUST IN CASE. What if they do the wrong thing? What if they fall? What if they fail? What if they lose the way? I’ll be right there. It’s easy to want to sit at the end of the aisle and coax them down. Motioning them on their every move. So they can see exactly where they are going. 

But, being a momma, I’m starting to understand more and more, is watching from the open door as they walk away. It’s fretting and working and picking up and preparing. It’s preparing and then a little more preparing because when it’s time to walk away…they go alone. 

It is the lessons they learned behind the door that they will carry with them. Whether they ever see our face or hear our voice. It is something they carry in their hearts when they no longer hold our hands. When our voices are no longer heard by their ears, we can know they will hear it in their hearts no matter how far and fast they walk away. 

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