When it comes to growing your family tree, there are two ways to do it. One is by marriage, the other is by baby. I am excited to report that my oldest brother Jeff has invited his girlfriend, Stephanie, to join the clan and she accepted. Hooray and Congrats! We celebrated their engagement with a brunch including both sides of the newly joined family on Sunday.
But is marriage really the easier of the two ways to increase the number of family members? The day of the actual event, marriage definitely is easier. Who would rather give birth than go to a big party often with an open bar? But what about the days, weeks, months and years that follow the blessed event? Babies are a more intense, concentrated kind of work right out of the gate. They need oodles of attention, require lots of patience, and can leave parents with more questions than answers. Babies won't let themselves be ignored.
Marriages, on the other hand, tend to start off with both parties running on cruise control, enjoying the afterglow of their wedding celebration and honeymoon. It is easy to assume that your marriage will always be that easy, that good. Then, life starts to flip by. Careers change, money gets tough, houses are bought and sold, babies enter the picture. And, if you are like me, you have an "a-ha" moment as you look across the kitchen at the guy talking to the baby in his best Baby-ese falsetto and realize you haven't really spoken to each other since last Wednesday. You've compared schedules, swapped baby anecdotes, and updated each other on joint bank account expenditures, but you haven't actually talked. And you wonder, how long could you ignore your marriage and have it survive? So make an effort. Just a little effort. A nice hug in the kitchen goes a long way.
In a lot of ways (hell, in almost every way imaginable!), Shawn and I are lucky. Though we didn't plan on making a Violet so quickly, we sure got a good one. And the good, old, pre-kid days of our marriage, though they were few, are still recent enough memories that we actually remember why we liked each other before we became family. I think that is a big reason why people end up getting divorced after they have a couple kids. Raising humans is so time consuming, so all consuming, so unignorable, that a marriage silently withering away is barely noticeable until it is too late. Some couples don't have the "a-ha" moment in the kitchen, or if they do, they ignore it and keep emptying the dishwasher. And, ignore enough of those moments and then it is too late.
So, for Jeff and Stephanie, I wish you guys lots of "A-Ha! I Love You!" moments. And maybe even a few little Violets. With their own names, of course.