In Print : How to be the invisible woman
Sydell Rabin, "The Complete Mother of the Groom," Adams Media, 2009, 212 ppg., $10.95
When Sydell Rabin's son, David, got married, the 15-year West Tisbury summer resident became an "invisible woman," a.k.a. mother of the groom. But instead of resigning herself to wearing beige and staying on the sidelines, this former English teacher whose consulting firm, The Writing Associates, helps teachers and business people improve their writing skills, decided to write a how-to book on the subject.
Tonight, July 23, she'll talk about "The Complete Mother of the Groom" at the West Tisbury Library at 5 pm.
Since her son is an only child, his marriage almost 15 years ago seemed like Ms. Rabin's one shot at being in a wedding. So she went to the library and learned that she and her husband, Arnold, a writer like herself, were responsible for the rehearsal dinner. She was also supposed to make the first call to the bride's family. That was the extent of available information.
Ms. Rabin began to keep a journal about her experiences.
"It was like opening a floodgate," Ms. Rabin says of her conversations with other women. "Everybody had a story, and I just listened." One woman Ms. Rabin interviewed said her son's prospective mother-in-law didn't see any point in getting to know her or her family.
Ms. Rabin took notes, collected interviews for five years and the manuscript for her book took shape. Excerpts were published in "For the Bride" Magazine and on NPR for Mother's Day. Still, it made the rounds of New York publishers without success.
The project languished for a number of years, until Jonathan Revere and Cynthia Riggs interviewed Ms. Rabin for their Martha's Vineyard Community TV show. Mr. Revere introduced Ms. Rabin to Paula Munier of Adams Media in a uniquely modern way, by DVD.
"We clicked right away," Ms. Rabin says, after the two talked on the phone. With guidance from Ms. Munier, what started as more of a memoir turned into a handbook for all the "invisible women" who take on the mother of the groom role.
"I tried to work my way through each issue," Ms. Rabin says. When people hear about "The Complete Mother of the Groom," they tend to expect a book full of funny stories, Erma Bombeck style, because so many jokes are told about the mother of the groom. That's not the case.