Monday, November 28, 2011

Breaking Dawn, Part 1: Team Charlie - father of the bride

When the "Twilight" series hit the public by way of the books, my wife jumped in with both feet and has thoroughly enjoyed all of them.  The movies which came later she also enjoyed but like almost every movie based on a book, the movie is usually somewhat of a let-down because there is nuance in the written word that cannot always be adequately expressed otherwise.  This is not to say that all movies based on books are always bad, but it does usually seem to be the case that if the book really was so good the reader should not be in a big state of anticipation for the movie to "finally" come out.  No matter how you slice it, it just will not be the same.  The movie will never - NEVER - be better than the original book.

I have seen all the "Twilight" movies so far because my wife so enjoys them, but I am of the "old school" when it comes to vampires and werewolves.  You know the old vampire: fangs, sleeping during the day in coffins, and turning into bats as the preferred means of travel (rather than running at the speed of light).  And werewolves walked on their hind legs and did not completely take on the appearance of a dog; there was some element of humanness still left in them.  They also did not communicate telepathically nor did they run in packs.  Maybe it's evolution, maybe it's regional.  Who knows?  Just grant to the "Twilight" author a great deal of poetic license and latitude to tell her stories as she wishes.  Who can argue with success??

I believe it was the second installment of the movie series when "Team Edward" (the vampire) and "Team Jacob" (the werewolf) came into being since "Bella" was compelled to choose between the two as her love interest.  Personally I was signed on to "Team Alice" because she's cute, perky, and much friendlier than "Rosalie" (but I never got a t-shirt or a coffee mug to state my preference).  All this changed, however, when the latest movie installment in the series came out and I took my wife to see it.  I have since had a change of heart.  I'm still a fan of "Alice" (though "Rosalie" softened up quite a bit and is clearly pro-life!) but as the father of a bride myself, I am now more appropriately aligned with "Team Charlie".

Nearly every father sooner or later will be forced to let go of his daughter.  I have once and will again.  Some will give their daughters over to be brides of Christ through service in the Church as nuns.  Others may see their daughters hand their lives over to the Lord through missionary work as lay persons in dangerous parts of the world.  Still others, most perhaps, will hand their daughters over to husbands as both will vow in the presence of the Almighty and witnesses to "forsake all others".  Though they do not cease to be sons and daughters, the primary relationship necessarily shifts from parents to spouse.  Mothers usually have a hard time surrendering their sons, but I think fathers have a more difficult time handing over their daughters.  The reasons are many and are as specific and as coherent as the Occupy movement's beef with the 1-percenters (yes, you read sarcasm); we fathers cannot quite put our fingers on the objections, but we know they are there ... and they are real.  We fathers never quite expect, as our daughters enter into this new covenant, that they will be taken completely from us.  They are, though - and perhaps necessarily so.

"Charlie's" frustration in the latest movie installment was as palpable as any emotion I have ever felt.  "Bella", as far as "Charlie" knew, had fallen ill on her honeymoon, and this illness had delayed her return because flying was not a good idea while "Bella" was sick.  So "Charlie" only knew his beloved daughter was not well.  Frustration #1: not being able to "rescue" his daughter in her time of need and being forced to trust the new husband to give her the care and consideration she requires.  However, complications set in for "Charlie" when "Bella" later called to inform him that she would be going to Switzerland to a clinic.  When "Charlie" blew a gasket and insisted on going to Switzerland to see about his child, "Bella" then told him it was more like a "spa" than a clinic in a vain effort to calm him down.  When that did not work, she then told her dad explicitly not to meet her in Switzerland.  Frustration #2 = heartbreak: daddy, you're out.

I am going to try to finish my thoughts without giving away too much of the movie (which I did NOT enjoy after that moment!).  Needless to say, it was in that moment when I became aligned by no choice of my own to Team Charlie; the father of the bride who was told in no uncertain terms that he was then, and would forevermore be, a secondary figure in the new family dynamic. 

It is a harsh fact of life that there can only be one primary relationship especially when it comes to married couples.  Even when children come into the picture, husband and wife must tend to their own relationship intentionally and purposefully even as the new and very dependent little ones vie for attention and much-needed care.  It is sad to say that if children (or any others) do become primary, the relationship between husband and wife is at risk.  Early on, such relationships become even more twisted, convoluted, and challenging when parents and in-laws become overly aggressive in inserting themselves into the married relationship of their children regardless of their noble intentions.  I allowed such an insertion early in my marriage almost to its detriment.  Once a line had been crossed, however, I was left with only one choice: my wife; "forsaking all others".  That is, if I intended to stay married to her. 

So I had been forced to tell my own mother where and when to step off, but the force did not come from my wife; it was the right thing to do.  It came from a situation that began to spin out of control because I tried to maintain two primary relationships.  It should not have come to that, but it did because I did not take my stand early on; and like most parents, my mom did not realize she was injecting herself into the relationship inappropriately.  Worse still, it was I who had allowed my mother so far into the relationship because perhaps I divulged much more information than she was entitled to.  After all, I was a married man who had freely entered into a new covenant of my own, and that life was entitled to substantial privacy.  I was the one compelled by Scripture to "leave father and mother and cling ONLY to his wife".  I had miserably failed at that but because I lacked the sufficient maturity to do the right thing at the time, I very nearly damaged not one but TWO relationships because I failed to embrace my wife as my life.  I failed to realize that two primary relationships are not possible just as Jesus teaches that it is not possible to serve two masters.  

To my knowledge, my married daughter has not become a vampire (I've seen her in sun light; she does not sparkle).  What I do know is that she has entered into a covenant with her husband - a covenant in which no parent is allowed.  So daddy's out.  I will always be the first man in her life who gave her a diamond, but I sincerely hope that in spite of all the mistakes I made that I managed to give her something much more enduring.  It is not easy to let go but as much as her mother and I were trying to prepare her to be an independent and self-sufficient woman, it surely must be that the Lord was also preparing me for the inevitable - that one day she would in some tangible and decisive way actually declare her independence and move on.   

So for as much as I thought I was backing out, apparently I was asserting too much.  So now, like "Charlie", I'll sit by the phone, take what I can get, and be happy with it.  Even when I know something may not be quite right, I have to fight the impulse to correct it for my daughter's sake because she is no longer daddy's girl; she is someone's wife.  Daddy's out.

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