A Series of Surprising Reactions

Layla was a flower girl in a wedding two weeks ago. Getting her hair done, wearing a tiara, working alongside the bride, and sprinkling flowers on the floor were absolutely second nature to her.

Layla at dinner at Shireen's wedding

Layla at Shireen's wedding

Participating in their the wedding agenda has inspired Layla to ask questions about mommy’s wedding 8 years ago. “Mommy, is that your wedding dress hanging on the back of your door? Can you try it on for me? [me thinking: Ah! It doesn’t fit anymore].

“Mommy, is that your wedding tiara in the china cabinet? Can I wear it?” [Of course. And did you know it was the “something borrowed” in both my best friends’ weddings?]

And then my question: “Do you want to see the wedding video?” [YES! They scurried excitedly to the tv.]

Zade and Layla made a small sleepy-theatre downstairs with a line of pillows and a collage of scarves from my closet, throws, and blankets. They wanted ice cream, but they got a couple of bananas as a movie snack.

Layla and Zade set up to watch the video

What I wasn’t expecting was what happened just a few minutes into the engagement photo montage at the beginning of our wedding video. I looked over and saw tears puddling around Layla’s eyes. I asked her desperately, “What’s wrong, honey?” And she said, “You remember how you told me about happy tears? I have those now.”
Layla cry heartbreak

I’m sorry, did I just hear her right? Is this 4-year old recalling the time I was tearing while watching a video of the kids and told two concerned toddlers that mommy is crying happy tears? Is Layla crying happy tears because she is a 30-year old woman in disguise?

I proceeded to kiss her all over her cheeks and thought the emotional episode was over.

As we went through the ceremony and the speeches, Layla started crying again–even harder this time. Through her hicupping sobs, she pleaded, “I wish I could have been there at your wedding. Why couldn’t I be there?” I fumbled through a fast pg-list of ideas: first comes love, second comes marriage, and then comes the babies; God gave you and Zade to us years later?

Layla crying 2

Nothing I said really appeased her. She really couldn’t understand, and I’m thankful she can’t associate anything else but a mommy and a daddy with babies. But I really felt heartbroken for her. To demonstrate how long it had been, I showed her aunties who didn’t have her cousins yet, teenage cousins who looked like toddlers in comparison, and men who had hair back then, and this time elapse helped her a little bit.

Overall, I felt a bit shocked at the moment I was facing and hoped that I had not scarred her–perhaps thinking that I excluded her on purpose somehow. I promised her that one day daddy and mommy will get married again on the beach with both Layla and Zade there; she looked confused for a bit and then offered practically, “Well, we’ll need to get all the wedding stuff.” I said happy “okay” to move the conversation to a happy place. Now, Layla has determined that we are renewing our vows this summer “when she doesn’t have school.”

After the surprising reaction, I got this heartwarming reaction when she saw me walking down the aisle towards her dad.

Layla's reaction at seeing me walk down aisle<

While Zade bounced around our small teachable–for mommy–moment and kept talking to people on the tv screen wondering why they wouldn’t talk back, I caught a glimpse of Layla appreciating the memory. The experience Layla had with our wedding day is a new lens for me: for our toddlers, there is no life beyond what they’ve shared with their parents, and only experience and years will give them a new lens.

Getting better 2

It’s funny because while I remember having a life without my kids, it all seems like a fake sub-universe and my life now–filled with sticky fingers and bath time and morning muffins and little warm feet and dimples– seems like the real one, the memory we’re making that means the most to me right now.

2 thoughts on “A Series of Surprising Reactions

  1. Phoebe, I know we talked about this already, but I wanted to say that your comment is still on my mind. I imagine this ceremony at a beach somewhere some years from now. A reaffirmation ceremony sounds lovely!


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