Broke-Ass Tag: moms



It was winter in Portland, 2007. I was 22 years old, single, working 2 great paying jobs and living a relatively care-free life. I sold my car for a bike and lived off of deli sandwiches and PBR. I had just finished a shift at the vintage store I ran with my two best friends and was getting pumped for an all nighter of Rock Band, beers, oven-pizza, and fun. My phone rang, it was my mother, she was distraught. She asked if I was with my friends, and then told me she had something to tell me. In a split second my life went from everything I wanted to pure misery: my mother had cancer. It was spreading rapidly and they hadn’t pinpointed where it had started. I was the last of 4 children and pretty much my entire family to know. “You’re going to be alright though, right?” I asked her after the initial period of shock subsided and my heaping sobs leveled out. She couldn’t answer me, she handed the phone to my older brother. “She is okay,” he told me. I believed him.

I fought hard to keep my life the same but the truth is, it never got back to “normal” for me. After months of treatments, it was decided I was to move back home to help with her “end of life care” while our family transitioned into this extremely trying time. I watched my mother, once full of life and energy, slowly fade away in every sense.

It has been 5 years since she passed, and though I have been on the long, winding road of healing and rediscovery of myself, or who I am without a mother, or what that means to me; nothing has been more trying on this journey than planning a wedding without her. She never actually got to meet Andrew even though we were already dating when she was sick. It just happened too quickly and, to be honest, I didn’t know how I would come out on the other side.

Some people have to do this without their family, without their mothers or sisters or grandparents for many reasons. The most common reason is distance but no matter, it’s not easy. Looking for dresses was like pouring salt into open wounds, it stung pretty badly to stand there alone.

I’ve found comfort in those around me, people have played more than one role and it’s been the biggest blessing of my entire life. My maid of honor lost her mother when she was 16, her experience combined with being my wedding buddy has been more valuable than anything else. My future mother in law has stepped in with so much grace and love that, at times, I almost forget a huge part of my heart is missing.

Still, the days when I’m just working on the small details, or thinking about the way the ceremony might play out, I get a wave of sadness realizing that not only am I going to have to do this without her, but I am going to have to hold it together for the rest of my family who hasn’t quite reached the place of acceptance that I have.

I’ve always been a great griever, and some days I catch myself grieving myself for the sadness I have to endure on my own wedding day. I hope that by the time that day comes, in just a few months now, I have reached a place where I can embrace my blessings, my wonderful fiance, his exceptional family, my exceptional family and friends, and realize that though she is gone, she is not absent from my life completely.

  • 4/5

    Photo by Andie Freeman Photography

    Photo: Andie Freeman Photography

    Dear Liz,

    I’m in a bit of a wedding dress dilemma. When I started out I thought we would have to pay for almost everything ourselves and I thus set out to find a beautiful low-cost dress. I tried all the bridal fairs, shopped around and got very depressed, not just about the cost but the actual style of the dresses! I was fairly clear on what I wanted but everything I tried on looked and felt terrible! There was always just too much stuff going on with the dress, or it was hard to walk in, or super sweaty.
    I was close to my breaking point when  I saw a very pretty dress. It is not a wedding dress. It is a lovely dove grey (my wedding colors are greys and blues), very light and floaty, simple and elegant full length dress. Relieved to finally see something I liked, and at a fantastic price! I bought it.

    Last week my mother came to visit us. I excitedly showed her my dress. She was less than keen. She said it wasn’t a wedding dress and that we should keep looking. She also then told us that my parents will be donating more than we initially thought so I had some spending money for a “proper” dress. I went dress shopping again with her. I tried on lots of dresses and since I didn’t like anything and was quite clear on the style I wanted the shop assistant eventually brought out all the fabrics to pin to me and proposed a dress to my specs. It looked amazing! Absolutely beautiful and more than five times what I originally spent on my grey.

    Now my mother has left and I am feeling conflicted. I still love my grey dress and would be happy to be married in it.  But I now feel it might be inadequate and I’ve lost my initial excitement about it. I love the designed dress but it is expensive and I feel like I folded. So right now I am excited about neither and frustrated again. Any ideas?


    Shades of Grey

    Dear Grey,

    Well, you did kind of fold, but in the larger scheme of things, not a huge deal  I get that you’re annoyed with yourself for not standing up to your Mom, even if you got a dress you really like out of it. Unfortunately, just because she’s your mother doesn’t mean she isn’t right, sometimes. It would be sort of like you decided to wear a pant suit for an interview, and your friend says, “Yeah, you can’t wear that, let’s go to J.Crew” or wherever, and you find a  great dress that makes you feel so much more confident than the pant suit did. Don’t beat yourself up because of the pantsuit, or worry about what it says about you because it was your initially pick. Now, for your grey dress. Ironically, I was just talking about reception dresses on Facebook as something that you don’t have to do, but if you really love it, you can also wear it as your “reception dress” and change it to some time during the evening. No reason to waste the pretty.

    My fiancé and I are planning a smaller wedding (around 80 guests) and we are paying for the majority of it ourselves. My mother comes from a rather large family and I have a lot of cousins. My aunts are on the guest list and a few cousins that I am closer in age with; however, I was not planning on inviting all my cousins. They would take my whole half of the guest count,  leaving no room for my friends. I have gotten some comments from my aunts and cousins about how this isn’t the way to go about this, and that family should take precedence. I am feeling slightly guilty for not having my cousins on the list. I really do like and enjoy their company; however, I have to admit that we don’t talk regularly and I rarely see them. I really want some of my friends who have been totally supportive of me (and know my fiancé and I as a couple) there.  I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I feel stuck between family and friends. Save the dates need to go out soon and I am not sure who to send them to at this point.  Do I invite all my cousins (who I really do like and enjoy) and hope some do not come so I have room for friends? Or do I just go with my original plan to invite aunts, a couple of cousins and friends that know my fiancé and me?


    To invite or not to invite—what a question.

    Dear Invite,

    I think you should invite the people you originally wanted to, and keep the explanation simple: The guest list has to stay small, and you can’t invite everyone. BUT, if you don’t think that is going to go over too well, get specific about the names and numbers of everyone involved – cousins and friends, and the cost per., etc. Then, since it’s her family,  bring the list to your Mom. Explain it to her like you just did to me, and ask her what she thinks you should – or could- do. You might be able to find a compromise, and at the very least you’ll give her a heads-up.

    So, what are you and your family clashing about wedding-wise? And what do you think about my advice? Let me know in the comments!

    See you at the end of the aisle,

  • 12/21

    Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what's up! Dear Liz, Hi! My problem starts with the fact that my future hubs has a lot of guy friends from high school. All of the moms (including his) get together every month to catch up, which is super sweet. Apparently they also throw/host a bridal shower for each bride-to-be of…

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