When your child elopes, it may feel as if your world is crushed. All the plans you had for the perfect wedding, the grand send-off with family and friends as well as every other little detail just got flushed down the drain. As parents, we want what is perfect for our children. You know, the fairy tale ending, or at least that is what I wanted for my daughter.
My daughter, Ashley, was my firstborn. We were always close and I was protective of her.
In 2015 at the age of 23, she met Ramses and they begin dating. They got engaged on New Year’s Eve in 2016. It was hard for me as a mom to accept that my girl was growing up. Even though Ramses was a good guy, it was a huge adjustment for me to think we had to give her away to anyone. I mean, after all, she was my girl and my stubborn mom-self did not see it any other way for a while. After the initial shock wore off, we started talking about a summer wedding. Her dad and I offered to pay the expenses. She and Ramses seemed to be content with that idea. I thought about how beautiful she would be, the decorations, the food and the guests. The excitement of giving my daughter a nice wedding helped ease the pain of knowing she would soon leave the nest and begin building one of her own.
Wedding Day Jitters?
After about a month, they started talking about moving the wedding up. Okay, we can do that, I thought. We had not sent out any invitations or set a date. Ramses was in the US Army and there was a chance he could be deployed so they wanted to get married before that happened. That was understandable. I started suspecting things were not going exactly as I had hoped when my daughter began showing a lack of interest in talking about wedding details. “We don’t really want anything big, mom” she would tell me. “Sure, that’s ok. We can work with a small ceremony.” I would reply. I assumed it was wedding jitters. I know I was a bundle of nerves months before my wedding day arrived. It still did not cross my mind that they had other plans. I had heard about other moms discussing when your child elopes and how to overcome the hurt from it, but I never imagined mine not including her family in her special day.
That fateful March weekend came along.
Ashley had been spending a lot of time at Ramses place since they got engaged so it was not alarming that she was with him the entire weekend of March 5. That also happened to be the weekend her dad ended up in the ER with a nasty kidney stone. I tried to contact her to let her know about her dad but to no avail. Little did I know she was not paying attention to her phone because she was preparing for her private wedding ceremony with only her, Ramses, the preacher and one of Ramses friends in attendance.
Sunday rolled around and she finally called. “Why couldn’t I get ahold of you?” I asked. “I was busy.” She replied. “Busy doing what?” was my response to which she barked out, “getting married.”
At first, I didn’t believe her. Maybe it was the shock. I mean, how else do you feel when your child elopes and you are blindsided? Everything seemed to happen so fast and at the time my entire world seemed out of control and crashing. Why would she do this to me, to us? Too many questions and not enough answers. There were tears, hurt and anger mixed in the middle.
What I Learned When Your Child Elopes
Although things did not turn out as I had hoped, my daughter getting married on her own terms taught me a few painful but much-needed life lessons.
Mom and Dad, it’s not about you.
Why did you do this to our family was one of my first thoughts. I was a traditionalist, but Ashley was not. She was not me. I had to learn how to respect that. Her dad wanted to get to walk her down the aisle. Rather than focus on ourselves and what we wanted, we had to come to the realization that this was her day. It was not about us and what we wanted. It was what she and Ramses needed and wanted. We had to respect those wishes.
Let Your Adult Child Make Their Own Decisions.
Accepting her transition into adulthood was not easy for me. I had to take a few steps back and just breathe. God was in control. She was an adult. Adulthood came with the “get out of jail free card” of making your own decisions. Right or wrong. This was her decision to make. I had to let go.
Love Them When They Don’t Seem Loveable.
I admit that I was mad and jealous. I felt cheated, neglected and even pouted like a child. Regardless of how I felt on the inside, I was still her mom. I had to act like it. I had to wash my face, straighten my act and show my love to her. If she wanted to explain her reasoning it was her choice. However, if she did not want to share that with me, that was her choice too. I had to be okay with that.
Offer Your Support and Blessings No Matter What.
Our children grow up just like we did. They are going to make good decisions and bad ones. They are going to do things we don’t always agree with. That is what makes us all human. Don’t grieve over the small stuff. She was still my girl. The only change was her marital status. She still needed my support and blessings and as a mom, it was my job to show her the support and welcome my new son-in-law into our family.
Now, a few years down the road, my daughter has grown in wisdom and strength. She is a wonderful wife and gave me an amazing grandchild who I adore. I am thankful for the woman, wife, and mom she has become. I try to not sweat the small things in life with my children, choose my battles wisely and be thankful in all things with lots of patience and prayer.
If you end up wondering how to react when your child elopes, just try not to overreact. Yes, it’s hard. Emotions run high, but it’s about your child’s happiness during one of the most special days of his or her life. Be supportive and show them your love. Even after secretly tying the knot, this is still your child.