Today, I was talking to a very good friend of mine who is about to give birth any day now. She told me that she had gotten a super cute hair cut today and she joked that she was now well prepared for the baby to arrive. The baby should try and be born tonight because her hair would look hot.
"That's important," I remarked. "Got to look good for the post-birth pics."
We continued in this vein until I suggested that she might want to get a Brazilian bikini wax for the big day.
Shockingly, she did not think that was a good idea.
"Come on!" I insisted. "Where's your commitment to looking good on THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE?"
And that's when I realized why the day your first child is born isn't the most important day of your life. It can't be. Because come on. There's a whole industry around looking good for this MOST IMPORTANT DAY, and even as masochistic as we women can be, most of us aren't going to agree to some waxing at 39 weeks.
I've always idly wondered why people say in the same breath that "You don't know love until you know what it is to love your child," (something that has always bugged the crap out of me, btw) and that your wedding is the most important day of your life. Wouldn't the day your love escalated to this whole higher plane of being, wouldn't that be the most important day of your life? I'm not saying weddings can't be transformational; I believe they can be. But I also know for some people their wedding was not a transformational experience. On the other hand, I have never heard anyone say that having a child didn't completely change their lives.
But my joking conversation with my friend reminded me why there's this cognitive dissonance, why there must be this cognitive dissonance if we want to get all sinister about it. Of course your wedding has to be the most important, the happiest, the best day of your life. Because it's just SO much easier to sell beauty treatments to a bride than a lady who's nine months pregnant.
Up until this conversation with my friend, I hadn't given much thought to the wedding being the happiest day of my life. Maybe it's weird, maybe it's normal, but most of my focus since I'd gotten engaged has been on two things:
1) My marriage and my family and my future life
2) The practical planning of a wedding
And I've found that the wedding day itself has sort of fallen into one or the other or both of those categories. For example, the ceremony, which is a combined intercultural ceremony, is in some ways a practical planning issue AND it's a reflection of what we want our marriage and future life to look like. It's a ceremony that combines a whole slew of traditions from our two cultures because that's what I want from my life. On the other hand, picking a photographer was more about the practical planning of a wedding. For those things I just wear my theatre producer hat. I want to do research, think about it, make a decision, and move on to the next task at hand.
So, honestly, I haven't been thinking too much about the wedding as this ethereal, transformative experience. I have never contemplated it's importance as a day, nor have I thought about how to make it the "happiest day of my life." I haven't pondered the significance of the day really. I guess I figure that the day will arrive and I'll ... wing it?
But the conversation with my friend had me thinking about it. Thinking about the happiest days of my life and whether my wedding would be one of them.
And I realized something.
First of all, up until now, I wouldn't say that any major "milestone event" days have been among the happiest days in my life. My high school graduation? A vague memory of sitting through some boring speeches. Ditto for college graduation. And it's not that I don't appreciate the weight of those accomplishments, but the days themselves? Meh.
Birthdays? I've had a couple really, really good ones. My friends and I still talk about my 21st birthday, four of us at a fancy restaurant in Chicago, my friend Honda stealing sips of wine out of Miss V's glass because she was still underage. By and large, my birthdays have been been happy days, but not especially so. Not memorably so.
I will definitely say that one of the best days of my life was a night in New York when an enormous group of us crowded into a Chinese restaurant where we were given a private room with a Karaoke machine. I know I can't convey the full magic of "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep Night" but you know it was magical because everyone there that night will say it was.
And that's when I start to realize the utter hopelessness of the project. How can I compare something like a graduation to a night at a Chinese restaurant? And how could I compare either to the many happy days I've had traveling? How would it compare to the happiness I felt on the day the last Harry Potter book came out? Or those first few dates with my fiance where everything seemed possible but nothing certain?
Now, you might be thinking, this is ridiculous. Surely your WEDDING DAY is a happier day than the day you read a children's book, albeit a best-selling children's book. And I will respond:
I mean I don't know. My wedding is in the future, so I don't know. Maybe it will feel like a higher plane of happiness, one that I previously couldn't even conceptualize, that I didn't even realize existed.
But I suspect not.
I think my wedding day will be fucking awesome. I will be marrying the person I love and I will be doing it in front of my community of friends and family and also there will be cake and booze. I am pretty sure it will be a happy day.
But will it be my happiest day? Meh.
I'd like to think that there are different kinds of happiness, just as there are different kinds of love. Lots of things make me happy: reading a book, traveling, gossiping with close friends, sleeping, doing a really good job at work, etc, etc, etc. But I don't get the same KIND of happiness reading a book as I do drinking wine with friends. One isn't better than the other; they're just different.
I submit to you that this need we people have to quantify and organize our lives ... it's just crap. Do I love my fiance better than anyone else? No, probably not. But I do love him differently than anyone else, and I think that's what matters.
I can't tell you my favorite book, nor my favorite color, nor what I like to eat most of all. I can't say that I would prefer drinking wine with friends to reading a good book, nor can I say the reverse.
And I can't tell you what the happiest day of my life is. I can't even tell you the top ten.
I submit to you that we should stop thinking of our wedding as the happiest day of our lives. But we also shouldn't feel pressed to find another day that was happier. We just shouldn't worry about quantifying our days in such a manner. Instead of quantifying our past and future, maybe we just need to enjoy the present.
And that is my fortune cookie way of saying that I don't give a shit if my wedding isn't the happiest day of my life. As long as I actually end up MARRIED to my fiance it'll be happy enough for me.