Seriously Kidding

Did I cry at daughter's wedding?

It has been a month since my daughter Natasha got married and every time someone asks about it, I am left with a sense of guilt.

The guilt is over what they ask about.

The wedding was in London, home of the bridegroom, so you would expect people asking why it was held there, whether there were problems with logistics and whether the whole family from Singapore went.

However, the queries were nothing like that. What I have been asked by at least 30 friends, is: "Did you cry?".

You see, I have a reputation for tearing up and turning into a blubber bag at any time, when least expected - or appropriate. At a cremation service for a good friend's father, I cried more than any of the family members.

As for my 24-year-old daughter's wedding, the "Did you cry" question was just the start. When I replied, "No", disbelieving friends followed up with "Don't bluff", "I am sure you did" or "No need to be shy about it".

In fact, at the ceremony and reception, I was on the verge of tears many times. I choked with emotion. I felt my lips quiver. As I made my father-of-the-bride speech, my notes turned blurry. But I did not cry.

My stoic Dad performance is getting me no Oscars, though. Worse, women friends end their conversation with: "My husband will surely cry when our daughter gets married," which I interpret as: "My husband is not like you, he cares a lot for our daughter, is very close to her and will surely cry when she gets married."

Suddenly, after being embarrassed all my life about being a chronic crier, I find myself fighting to retain my title.

Failing to display my paternal devotion by being a wedding weeper is only part of the bridal blues.

The main reason: I feel guilty because of how relieved I am that Natasha has finally gotten hitched.

It wasn't that I was happy to get her off my hands. In fact, it was just the opposite. Ever since Natasha was 13, she has said: "Dad, I want to get married and have kids." And so, for many years, I had felt helpless. When your children ask for things, you want to help make it happen. Yet, the marriage rates for women have been falling, and the numbers of singles, rising.

Also, in encouraging my daughter to pursue a degree, I was upping her chances of singlehood. Singapore statistics show that the chances of marriage for higher-educated women are slimmer.

I was at a wedding last weekend and bumped into an old friend, who said: "Congrats, Matt. I heard your daughter got married." He added: "I am waiting my turn."

His daughter, in her mid-20s, was beside him. She gave me a wave. So I asked: "And when is she getting married?"

"She was going out with someone for many years and they broke off and now she is not seeing anybody," he said matter-of-factly, and sighed.

I felt for him. I knew exactly what that sigh meant.

But now, for me there is no cause to sigh - just cry. Oh, what lengths I went to, to avoid that.

I even went to the wikiHow website to look for tips on how not to cry. (Tip: Don't look at your daughter during the wedding service - once she starts crying, you will, too.)

It was particularly hard at the church rehearsal on the eve of the ceremony, when tender images of my daughter as a baby, nestled like a koala in my arms, flashed through my mind.

I wondered: "Does she know that nothing can beat a father's love for his daughter, does she really want to step out of dad's protective hands?"

But the next day, as I watched Natasha and her groom exchange vows, I knew she had found my replacement. She had found the right guy.

It was bittersweet, but it was a relief. Inside, I shed a tear.

matt@sph.com.sg

What were your feelings when your child got married? E-mail stlife@sph.com.sg