I came home from the climbing wall to find a card on the mat.
A card from my in-laws. “Congratulations.”
I was puzzled. The baby was a whole 6 months ago now; hubby’s Guide test 2 months. And while I was very proud of having just dragged myself up my first 6b slab, even my mother-in-law’s remarkable sixth sense couldn’t have picked that one up. But I remembered eventually.
I found the family eating. Tiddler – much less Tiddly now – was screaming. He was also proving his multitasking skills by gnawing hubby’s thumb. Toddler was supposedly eating bread and hummus but was actually using them to smear a nice design over the tabletop.
At least hubby was acheiving a state of improved nutrition, stuffing a sandwich in with his free hand. He didn’t look as though he was tasting it.
“Apparently it’s our Wedding Anniversary about now’ I shouted over the din.
‘Mummy, don’t shout,’ said Toddler.
Hubby said ‘Is it? What date’s our wedding again…?’
‘Waaaaa!’ said the baby.
It was five years ago. It was nice. Church followed by a party at a hotel. Food, drink, ceilidh. I didn’t spend years of my life thinking about colour schemes (there are blokes on ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ who spend more time planning their wedding than me) but there were flowers, beautiful music, a wonderful car and a big white dress.
Many other feminists would be surprised. Even I – the bride – would find this article easier to write if it was a convincing argument that marriage has no place in the twenty-first century. What is this sexist modern pantomime in which a woman’s father ‘gives her away’ as though she were a posession? Why is walking down the aisle supposed to be something she has always dreamed of? Why does she dress ‘like a princess’ and crowds gather outside the church to comment on her appearance? Why should it be ‘the best day of her life?’ We all know she wears white to symbolise being a virgin but why would anybody think it important that she was one? And why does no-one ever apply any of these values to the groom?
But why bother with feminism when you can have tradition, commercialism, exhibitionism and a good old piss up to boot? Sending out mixed messages wasn’t a very big concern for me; neither my husband or my father would be stupid enough to consider me their posession and even the Priest probably assumed I wasn’t a virgin. And while making such a Big Thing about a woman’s appearance can be called ‘objectification,’ I quite enjoyed swooshing around in a big skirt being the centre of attention. I hope that makes it alright.
But why do it? Persist the critics.
I can’t claim it’s a celebration of settling down and living together because we gave up our jobs and flat within six months of the wedding and didn’t live together again until Toddler.
I can’t argue that it provides stability for children, knowing plenty of unstable children with married parents and plenty stable children with unmarried ones.
Financially it’s daft, tax breaks or not: from a purely financial standpoint it was the least profitable transaction I ever made.
And what of divorce rates? It generally appears in the UK that vows are suject to convenience anyway – and I must admit that I’d be the last to urge a married couple to stay in a toxic relationship to both of their detriments (although obviously I’ll be staying with mine: at least, we haven’t killed each other yet and divorces are more expensive than weddings).
It did get me a new name: I know it’s fashionable and feminist to keep your old one but that’s only for people who haven’t had to spell B-U-L-L-E-Y-M-E-N-T down the phone for twenty-odd years. Yet that’s hardly motivation enough.
SO then, let’s have it: What has a wedding done for me?
Let’s go back to our chaotic dining table.
I took Tiddler gingerly; he was covered in a thin layer of saliva and soggy rusk.
I was soon covered in regurgitated milk. And when I say covered….
The teething of the second child is not proving to be our most romantic period: we are primarily a working team. We stumble, sleep-deprived through our days, one childminding while the other works, plays or conks out. Sometimes we exchange exasperated words over a wriggling child’s head; sometimes worried ones.
But sometimes there are smiles and this was one of those times.
We were remembering a gathering of people we love, dressed in their posh togs to wish us well in our lives together. It was a great gesture of support and such gestures have continued. We also remembered having a wonderful time dancing and celebrating with those people. It’s a happy memory: we never suspected then that Mum would be gone in four years.
And while none of this sounds particuarly authoritative in an arugment, those things are all important to us. They are what we got married for. It is an annual, mutual pleasure of ours, remembering our anniversary on the last minute.