12 years ago I was engaged to my wife. We were pretty young (24 and 21 at the time). Like the idiot I am, I decide to buy my in-laws a copy of the movie, “Father of the Bride”. I thought it would be a great idea to watch this movie all together and to look at the wedding and marriage through the lens of comedy. There had been a little drama along the way and I thought this would really help all of us enjoy the preparations for the wedding.
Well, we never finished the movie. From the opening line my mother-in-law started to cry. Half way into the movie, she runs upstairs because it was too much. Minutes later my father-in-law goes up with a broken heart. In my immaturity I wondered with a measure of annoyance, “What the heck is their problem?” At the time I really didn’t get it.
Last night my wife and I watched that movie for the first time in 12 years. I am now the father of four amazing little girls. From the opening line I could not stop crying. Prior to last night, I have only cried twice in a movie. Life is Beautiful? Fell asleep. The English Patient? Am I a man? No way. Tae Guk Gi (the korean “saving private ryan” wannabe)? Not a chance. Death. Love. Drama. None of it can make me cry. This movie…my wife and I cried and cried from beginning to end. Even as I type this entry my eyes are tearing up.
We cried for a couple of reasons. First, my wife was thinking about our wedding and marriage from her father’s perspective. Although I didn’t cry for that reason it really hit me hard that I was so insensitive to what my in-laws were going through. It wasn’t just buying an inappropriate movie for them. In my desire to get married I never thought about how hard it must have been for them especially since I married my wife when she was 21 years old. For my wife she couldn’t stop thinking about her own father during the movie.
The second reason we both cried is obvious. We were envisioning ourselves in the future watching our daughters becoming a family with a man. This is the opening monologue…
Annie Banks Mackenzie. That’s her married name: Mackenzie. You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced, and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on you’re in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her.
In the movie, Annie Banks is an amazing daughter. When her father complains about the cost of the wedding, she falls asleep reading an article entitled, “How to have a wedding on a budget”. My wife and I couldn’t stop thinking about #1 and #2. We cried thinking about how much they will want us to love their husbands. How much they will want their husbands to love our family. I get happy when I think about some of the amazing men I know and the thought that my daughters might marry people like them…full of character, men of faith. Then I think about the countless losers I know and then my heart sinks at the thought of them loving someone who doesn’t have the capacity to love them in a way they deserve.
I have always said to young people who have asked about kids that raising kids will bring every emotion everyday. Joy. Fear. Anger. Laughter. Etc. Thinking about my daughters’ future weddings bring all of that times 100. Daughters think the world of dads. The thought of that changing saddens me though I know it is a necessary step..leaving us to become one with another. The thought of our daughters starting a family also brings joy, fear, anxiety…all of it everyday.
It has been a few days since we saw that movie. I am glad we saw it. We are enjoying each day with our girls (and son) because we have already seen that time goes so fast. We want to enjoy them while we have them with us. Casting our hearts to the future has really changed our perspective of the present. Things that would normally annoy us are overlooked. Things that would make us angry are let go. Hmmm. Sounds like a good habit…casting our hearts to the future to determine our present….