A couple months ago I was reading my friend Desaray’s blog which is all about her upcoming marriage to her lovely fiancee Lauren. After reading several witty and endearing posts about hair and churches and invitations, I commented to Natalie that I hadn’t read much on her blog about her expectations of what it would be like to be married.
Being 4 years on the other side of a wedding ceremony myself, I personally feel like the weddings get all the attention that should be paid to marriage. In our culture we LOVE weddings for all their symbolism and formality. We can all remember really great weddings we’ve been to- the food, the music, the gowns. But the same attention is rarely paid to really good marriages. And IMHO- when all is said and done…the marriage is waaay better than the wedding.
I was explaining all of this to Natalie when she gently pointed out to me that I hadn’t written much on my pregnancy blog about parenting. Touche. Natalie. Touche. We all have our blindspots, I guess.
I am writing this blog post at 1am in Little Rock, Arkansas where we are visiting family. Howie has a cold and is konked out on Theraflu. In between us in our king-sized bed is our daughter Eliza who is lying on her back in bunny-footed pj’s snoring softly along with her dad.
Three months ago my whole focus was on the birth. How would I get through it? Who would be there? How long would it be? How would Howie and I communicate? Would it be in a tub? Yadda, yadda, yadda. And I don’t mean to demean my former self by saying this now…but seriously it’s not about the birth. While the birth is important, it’s really and truly about the process of having a child and becoming a parent. And you realize- when you become parent- that other parents knew this all along.
When Howie and I took the car to the hotel after our wedding…and later when we climbed into bed that night…. it occurred to me that we would be married until we died. And for me, that thought has occurred pretty much every day since. That “til death do us part” is not a way to characterize the length of matrimony (ie. that it lasts a long time)…but the unfortunate way that it will end. We will all die. Marriage is about mortality. It’s about the security of knowing you will have someone to live your life with…and the vulnerability of knowing you will some day lose them.
And this is how parenthood is occuring to me tonight, as I write this blog post. Since Eliza has been born there is no un-Eliza. Now that she is here the meaning in our lives and our own identities have changed so much that it’s nearly impossible to imagine a time when she did not exist. There’s no turning back. And looking forward I feel the same mixture of security and vulnerability that came with marriage. Because although we expect to be with Eliza for a long long time- the preciousness of parenthood is also all about mortality.