Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mother of the Bride Speech . . .

The big day of my older daughter's wedding has come and gone this past Saturday, July 9th 2016. A whole year of planning all came together and part of that included my Mother of the Bride speech. I had planned a nine minute speech, but my sweet daughter was less than pleased to hear it was going to run so long and ask me to cut it by a half or a third.  What could I do? Whatever baby wants, baby gets. I went back to the drawing board and cut out a chunk of what I considered to be the best parts. I was still left with a pretty great little speech from the heart and, as I promised I would, I am publishing the entire speech on my blog right after the wedding. So here is the unedited version, the parts in italics were edited out.

Mother of the Bride Speech

"I'd like to thank everyone for coming to celebrate this very special day in Melissa and Matthew's new life as husband and wife. I especially want to thank those of you who traveled from other states to be here today to share in our joy and in the happiest day of their lives."

(Edited Portion)

When Melissa asked me if I wanted to make a speech, I thought about for a minute and said yes. After all, when will I ever get a another chance to practice my stand up comedy on a captive audience? So many stories and so little time.

What can I tell you about Melissa? She loves to sleep. She got me into trouble with the nurse the first day she was born. The nurse brought her to me for her feeding and told me to wake her up by opening the blankets and tickling her feet. I did that . . . for 45 minutes . . . without success. Her eyes were sealed tight. The nurse came back and saw the bottle was still full and scolded me for not asking for help and throwing her all off schedule. My first day as a mom and I was already a failure. But Melissa slept through it so it's like it never happened.

Melissa is beautiful and always has been. I took her to a 70 year old pediatrician when she was just five days old. After examining her and reassuring me she was a healthy baby, he turned to me and said, "You know something, she is really cute. I've seen thousands of babies over the years and trust me I know." I couldn't argue with him. She was perfect in my eyes.

Melissa is very smart, sometimes too smart. We knew early on she was going to keep us on our toes. At two years old I took her Christmas shopping for a pocket calendar for my brother. As we stood in Hallmark, in front of their collection, Melissa, who came up to my knee at the time, looked up at me and said, "Let's get him a sophisticated one." I soon got used to her precocious outbursts when at dinner time she would interject herself into our conversations with expressions like "in my opinion" or "as a matter of fact." At five, since she was too young for college, we took her for an IQ test for the gifted program in our school district. At the end of the test, the gray haired psychologist came out and told me he couldn't give me her score, but she did very, very well. That was no surprise to me. But, as we walked to the car, Melissa informed me she got one question wrong. I asked, "How do you know, and which one was it?" She said, "He asked me what does "antique" mean, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings and say "old." I said, "Why? Because he has gray hair?" And she nodded. I think she should have gotten extra credit for that.

Melissa is compassionate and caring. When she was seven years old I decided to get new curtains for the living room and dining room. After 11 years I needed a change. Melissa walked in to see them hanging on the windows and I could see she disapproved. "Why did you get new curtains," she asked, "the old ones were perfectly fine." "I know, but I wanted some new ones." Then she said, "What about all the homeless people? We have a home and we had good curtains. They have nothing. You could have given that money to them." "I could have" I answered, "but if you are so worried about the homeless and you already have lots of toys, how about we donate the money from your Christmas presents this year to the homeless." She looked at me in silence. One of the few times I have made her speechless.

Melissa also wanted to help save the rain forest, adopt a gorilla, send blankets to animal shelters, and other humanitarian causes. When she was in college, a professor made her aware of a website that lends money to people in third world countries so they can start a business and repay the interest free loan. The repaid money then goes back to the donor or can be used again to help others. Melissa came right home and sent $100 of her money to the site. When she got her first job she signed up to sponsor a child a third world country for $25 a month. I told her it was a big commitment and she was just getting her own life started. She answered it's not that much money, it's the price of going to a movie. I want to make a difference. And she has made a difference . . . in the world and every day of our lives. 


(Continued unedited)

As a mother, when they place that beautiful little baby in your arms for the first time, you want the very best for them. You live your life to make them happy, to protect and teach them, to nurture them and keep them healthy. And, you worry about them. One minute they are with you 24/7 and the next they are starting school and going off on their own. And, as the years pass, and they grow up, you pray they will find the right person to share their lives with. One day, while Melissa was still in college, I was in her room and said to her, "you know Melissa, I'm worried about you and your future. Where are you going to find a nice decent guy in this world?" She looked up at me and said, "I don't know, I worry about that too."  We had raised a beautiful, thoughtful, loving and intelligent daughter, but where was she going to find her "soul mate." And it couldn't just be any man. Like everything else that we wanted for her, we wanted her to have the best. Someone who would love and protect her and make her happy, just as we had done all these years. Was there a man who would win Melissa's heart and be good enough for our daughter?

Then, in the fall of 2009, Melissa came to me and started talking about a guy named Matt that she had met at work. She started telling me a little about him. He had also gone to Hofstra, but he was a year older than her. As she spoke about him I could see she really liked him. Mothers know these things. And from what she told me I already knew Matt was kind, sensitive, genuinely nice and had strong family values. The gleam in her eyes and slight blush of her cheeks told me more than anything she could possibly say. And, over the seven years they have been together, I could see that Matt made Melissa happy, which, by the way, isn't an easy thing to do. I know he respects her, loves her and takes care of her. The gleam in her eyes is always there and I knew in my heart she had found her perfect match. Matthew is a man who is everything a mother could want for her daughter, a man who her father and I happily entrust with Melissa's future. And I want to thank Matt's parents, Gina and Jim, for raising such a wonderful man; and Jim for showing him how to be a loving husband and father. We love Matt and are proud to have him as our son. Today, Melissa has gained two brothers in Josh and Zach. Matt has gained a sister in Lauren. Melissa and Matt have not only joined their lives in marriage, but they have also joined their two families together today and forever.

Now here's a little marriage advice that "they" say I should include in my speech. Matt pay attention, since Melissa isn't known for taking my advice. A marriage is not 50/50, it's 100/100. You bring all that you are and all you have to give into it every day. Rely on each other's strengths, compromise on things when you can, help, support and encourage each other. You are building a new life and your new family unit starts today. Always remember the things about each other that made you fall in love. Always be honest with one another. Trust is as important as love. No relationship can last without it. Make memories together. Talk to and listen to each other, and that means making actual eye contact . . . shut the television, turn off the phone and put away the laptop and all other electronic devices that create distractions and take precious time away from each other.  And, one day, when you are ready to have children of your own (and I hope you do or I'll have done all this crocheting for nothing) I know you will both be great parents and raise your beautiful children with the love and values you have both experienced growing up. I pray your children will bring you as much joy and pride as you have brought us. 
So let me end with a little toast: Melissa and Matthew, this day has been a long time coming. You both deserve every happiness in life and so I wish you a very long, prosperous and healthy happily ever after. 
The end.

P.S. I am very happy to say that many of the guests loved my speech and my daughter, Melissa, who was pretty stressed and trying to hold back her tears for the sake of her make-up, told me that this was the first time she cried all day. I wanted to have a special moment to tell Matthew and Melissa how much they are loved and I guess I did a good job . . . if I say so myself.

Now that I reread both the edited and unedited versions I think I am happy I cut it down.  As is often the case, my daughter was right.  I wandered down memory lane, took a detour and got a little lost in the nostalgia while I was trying to find my way to a loving and memorable speech. The shortened speech I finally delivered was as perfect as everything else that took place in the wedding.

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