Do you, Lynne, take Cait to be your son’s wife? I do...
I honestly do.
This is my last week as my son’s next of kin.
From Saturday his wife will accede to this role and she will have to take him to the doctor, write the note excusing him from games and sign the form allowing him to go on the skiing trip abroad.
But I am not losing a son, I am gaining a daughter (in law) and thus I shall attain the status of mother-in-law. It is the nearest a woman can be to a Les Dawson joke without actually moving in with the newly-weds. (Now, there’s an idea)
On Saturday, I shall dress in my new super-charged bra, duck-egg blue dress and coat, duck-egg blue hat with pale pink trim and duck-egg blue tights, plus shoes and handbag (colour tba) and walk down the aisle to take my place behind the groom and the best man.
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My part in the wedding will be to check the back of Mark’s collar to see it’s turned down properly, brush any flecks of dust from his tail coat and sniffle. He’s expecting all of it.
Mark says: “You’ll cry when you hear the music, mum.”
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“No, I won’t,” I say firmly.
“You will when Ruth (his sister; my daughter) sings.”
“No I won’t.”
“You’ll definitely cry when you hear our vows.”
I am not going to weaken. “No, I won’t.”
It was the same when I watched Toy Story 3. Everyone said I would cry and I was determined I would not. And I didn’t… not until a bit right near the end when I’d thought I was safe.
At 2pm on Saturday, April 16, my only son, Mark, will marry Caitlin, the love of his life.
At 2.01pm on Saturday, April 16, Mark’s only mother, Lynne, will start crying. It’s traditional.
The bride will be in something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Her mother-in-law will be something old, somewhat blue, slightly bothered... so what’s new?
It will be the happiest day of Mark’s life and it will undoubtedly go straight in my top 10 (to be confirmed).
There will be a number of speeches after the ceremony and, as is customary, the bridegroom’s mother doesn’t make one. I dare say it has been thoroughly researched and there are very good reasons for this glaring omission from the proceedings.
Anyhow, the speech I don’t get to make goes something like this:
Mark is a fine son even though he has left me for another woman.
He spent his early years as his sister’s slave. When her imaginary game of enchanted princesses was in need of a Prince errant, Mark would be dressed up in a frilly blouse, given a plastic sword and instructed to gallop to the rescue of the damsels in distress. Aforementioned damsels would be Ruth and two or three of her friends languishing in her Barbie-infested bedroom.
Sometimes he would be called upon to kiss them, a task for which, with the exception of his sister, he needed little persuasion.
At school, he was an able student although with certain eccentricities. A few days after he joined the reception class his worried teacher took me to one side: “Your son,” she said, “clambered to the top of the climbing frame in the gym and jumped off.”
This was our first indication of his slightly reckless, devil-may-care streak.
Until then the only clue to his wilder side had been his tendency to put things up his nose.
As a toddler the technique was to put a spoonful of rice into his mouth, one up his nose, etc.
Working to a Masterchef recipe of his own he also inserted sage leaves into a nostril, plus assorted garden debris. Heston Blumenthal would be so proud.
When Mark was about seven he decided to round off his education by playing in the classroom sandpit for a term.
By this time he could write and read fluently and had moved on. Maternal duties included emptying sand from his trouser pockets.
A year later I got the now familiar tap on the shoulder from his teacher. “I think Mark may have difficulty hearing. He doesn’t seem to be listening in class. You might need to get him tested.”
At home, his dad and I carried out our own, unscientific hearing test.
This involved whispering “Mark, would you like pasta (his favourite) for tea” from the across the room.
“Yes, please, daddy.”
We decided he was old enough to address the hearing issue and tackled him: “Mark, your teacher is worried that you can’t hear very well. She says you don’t pay any attention. Why do you think that is?”
“Because I’m bored,” he answered succinctly.
We struck a deal whereby he undertook to look interested in class and we let him have a McDonalds Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets at the end of term.
After this, school was relatively plain sailing although his handwriting was never going to get him a job in a monastery’s illustrated manuscript department.
With a male child, a mother has an ideal opportunity to mould the perfect man – the way she would have done with his father if she’d got to him sooner.
As a result, like his dad, Mark is considerate, funny, good company, kind, friendly, helpful, handsome, intelligent, decisive and loving.
Unlike his dad he doesn’t read aloud to me from the newspaper, does not enter into heated discussions with politicians on the television and never insists he has told me something that he has previously never mentioned.
So, having watched my son grow to within a wee sliver of total perfection, another woman homes in on this wonderful man and snaps him up.
Granted, it was a gorgeous, talented and delightful young woman. But all that work, dear reader… all that work…