The Dance

By Pat Wahler

When your daughter gets married you are right there in the action – choosing venues, going to bridal shows and helping to select the china pattern. But when you’re mother of the groom, I’ve discovered things are different.

I really don’t mind being out of the decision making circle. By leaving planning details to younger and more nimble minds, there’s no need to reach for any type of headache remedy. My job is simply to smile and nod in a reassuring way whenever speaking to the bride or groom. But just when I thought I’d figured things out, I received an email.

“Please let us know what song you’d like to use for the mother-son dance at the reception.”

The mother-son dance – I’d forgotten all about the mother of the groom’s big moment. Though I wasn’t in charge of anything else, it was now up to me to find a song that would sum up my relationship with my son. Which song should I choose? Immediately, I consulted with my oracle for all wisdom: the Internet. There had to be a million possibilities.

As it turns out, there were. I spent days listening to various options. One song sounded cheesy. Another would be over the top. Then I hit the jackpot. I ran across several wedding dance videos posted online that made me giggle. A campy, funny dance; what better way to break the ice at the reception and make everyone feel good rather than sappy. I invited my son to take a look at the videos I found and enthused about how we could choreograph one heck of a good time for the guests.

His shudder reminded me of Lucy Ricardo tasting Vitameatavegimin.

“Absolutely not.”

Undaunted, I moved on to Plan B and warned him up front.

“If you won’t do funny, then we’ll have to do sentimental.”

He shrugged.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, dear.

As I started my second search, I sniffled through a dozen possibilities. Who knew so many songs were tear-jerkers? I chewed my nails and blew my nose until I finally found it: The perfect tune. It took half a box of tissues for me to watch the entire memory-filled description of a mother’s pride on her son’s wedding day. I could only hope my son’s nice new suit will be stain-proof, because Mama’s going to blubber like a baby.

Dance has always been important in helping people express emotion. It’s a way for us to connect with another human being whether in a time of sorrow, joy or celebration. My search for the perfect song got me to thinking about how much marriage resembles a dance.

A husband and wife may sway in perfect rhythm or step on each other’s toes. When someone stumbles, good dancers start over and try again to learn the steps because it takes a lot of work to perfect a sexy tango.

From time to time, a couple can move away from each other to dance in their own raw and unrehearsed way. Their movements may become so independently centered and unyielding that they forget the beauty of swaying together to the music. Too few remember that a true partnership flourishes with patience and practice. But for those who understand, a return to each other’s arms can help them learn again to find their own special routine.

As years go by, that couple is the one you’ll observe in a gentle waltz, steps formed through decades of experience. Even Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers couldn’t be more irrevocably linked; forever sharing joy together on the dance floor. Who wouldn’t want that in a relationship?

I know I’ll need to wipe my eyes as my son and I swirl around the floor on his wedding day. And when he commits himself in marriage to his lovely bride, my hope is that they both remember never to settle for simply performing the steps.

I want them to smile and put their whole hearts into the dance.

About this writer

  • Pat Wahler Pat Wahler writes essays and fiction. She has been published in multiple local and national venues. A life-long animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing and life’s little mysteries at www.critteralley.blogspot.com.

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7 Responses to “The Dance”

  1. Pat, I loved this article. The paragraph “from time to time, a couple may move away……return to one another” was beautifully written. So true and the reality of the dance…thank you!

  2. Lynn Obermoeller says:

    Pat, this was a beautiful story. I love these last two lines: my hope is that they both remember never to settle for simply performing the steps.

    I want them to smile and put their whole hearts into the dance.

  3. Stunningly beautiful sentiments. It touched this mother’s heart.

  4. Pat – This is, itself, a beautiful dance of words from someone who writes like a pro. You coaxed from me a smile and watery eyes. Love this.

  5. Alice Muschany says:

    Pat, I loved “The Dance.” I chuckled when I read the part about thinking all you had to do was smile and nod. In the beginning I told everyone all the Mother of the groom had to do was show up and wear beige. Hope the dance of life brings the couple a lifetime of happiness.

  6. haopee says:

    Pat, that’s not fair. Was it just me or didn’t you divulge the title of your Mother-Son-Dance?

    Good thing you were prepared with a tissue box. I’m pretty sure the trash bin is full again.

    I love your article. Indeed, who knew so many songs could make one cry.

  7. What a lovely essay. You brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my lips.
    I love the “never settle” line.

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