We Are Family….

Now it’s just him and me. Imagine that rhymed better.

And didn’t make you cringe.

I don’t know if you are close with your family. But I am. I talk to either my mother or my sister at least once a day. When I’m not freelancing in an office, it can be upwards of 3 times a day. I bounce all my big decisions off them. I listen and care about what they think about everything from curtains to careers. They are the first to hear big news, good or bad.

Then there was a shift. I can’t really pinpoint the moment. I think something had happened to me at work. Something crappy. And the first person I called was my fiance, who was my boyfriend at the time. I remember thinking when that happened, that things were serious. And we should all get used to this new person taking priority.

Marriage takes it to the next level. My mom will always be my mom, my sister will always be my sister. But my soon-to-be husband, well he is my family now. The two of us (and our dog that we get) we are the family unit now. I think the misconception is that once you have kids, then you are a family. I think you and your husband are a family the moment you say “I do”. You have to start making choices that benefit the two of you. Where previously you made sacrifices for your mom, dad, sister, brother, etc…you now put that person in front of everyone else and their happiness and well being is the top priority.

This is one of the challenges of getting married when you are older. Your immediate family is so used to having you all to themselves, not sharing your time or loyalty, that sometimes, it is a hard shift to make. For all of you. Nowhere is this more apparent than when we talk about where to spend the holidays. I’ve actually never been to his family’s Christmas, but he has been to my family twice. I’ve always spent Thanksgiving with his family. And Easter. But now, to add to the complication of having families in two different places, we now live in a different place. Before, in New York, we could get to his family in New Jersey and Connecticut easily. Now it is hard to get either to New York or Memphis (where I’m from). In a way it sets the families on equal playing fields. But in some ways…no, in most ways….it is hardest on my family. My new family.

Him and Me.

When it was just me, I could fly to anywhere my family needed me to be. I slept on couches, blow up mattresses and shared beds with my niece. Now, I am a we and we need a bed. Logistics are harder and my decisions have become our decisions. I have to do what is best for us now. That’s a hard thing for me to do. I like making people happy, especially my family. I like doing what they want me to do. And for the most part, what is best for them is also best for me. But sometimes, it won’t be. Sometimes the best thing for him and me will not be what my family wants me to do.

That is a hard thing for me to wrap my head around. My not being single doesn’t just effect friendships and the way the outside world views me, but it impacts the dynamic of my immediate family, and not through numbers but through allegiances. On top of that, I have this whole OTHER family, his. And they are great, lovely people who have made me feel welcome from day one. But my presence in my fiance’s life directly effects their interactions as well. It’s complicated. And you certainly don’t want to feel like you are taking over or changing everyone’s lives so much.

But recently, my mom was pitching me the idea of a unity candle of the ceremony. Look, it isn’t my thing nor is that sand in the jar or whatever. Although it did get me thinking about my family. And his. And this new thing we are doing. This new family we are forming.

All this is not to say that I still don’t call my mom on a bad day. Or text my sister with terrific news. Now it’s just my second call or text, not the first.

Except for the day we got engaged….that day they were my first call.

Marriage, Mortality and a certain CBS sitcom

There are very few TV shows that my fiance and I must wait to watch together. Breaking Bad was one. Mad Men, House of Cards and….this final season of How I Met Your Mother.

I came to How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) late in the game. It is my fiance’s favorite show and he forced me to watch the first season that he had on DVD. And, as I predicted, I hated it. I hated what a wuss Ted was and how we knew RIGHT AWAY that Robin wasn’t the mother but we would waste 8 years on Ted’s love for her. I told my fiance that I’d given it a shot, but no thanks.

Then I went away for a month. One of my best friends and I drove cross country one summer. It was the greatest, most awesome trip I’ve ever gone on and one that was 10 years in the making. But somewhere around Amarillo, Texas, I started to miss my fiance…..so to feel closer to him, I started Season 2 of HIMYM …..and I was kind of curious what would happen to Lily and Marshall. By the season 8 premiere that fall, I was all caught up.

*Warning spoilers ahead*

With 4 episodes left in the series, last night’s episode turned the show on it’s ear. With certain well placed comments, glances and tears, it seems that we have met the mother only to have her taken from us….yea, she’s dying.

The episode has a middle aged Ted telling his middle aged wife about the day of Barney and Robin’s wedding. There were moments where the two got choked up and said things like “when moments are too heavy, you distract yourself with nothing”. And the wife urging Ted to not be the guy who lives in his stories “life moves forward”, she says with tears in her eyes.

By the end, I was a sobbing mess. Because she’s going to die. We have wanted Ted to find love for so long, he’s struggled and he found her and now she’s being taken away too soon.

And then I looked at my fiance. And I realized the thing that you know as a logical person but don’t really think about until you love someone so much….he is going to die. And so am I. (I know……this is not even close to a funny post about “first looks”).

And unless we die as I would like, together in our sleep at age 90….one of us will go before the other that though made me sob harder. What have I gotten myself into? I mean, we’ve been together 3 years and I know that  I would be destroyed…what will another 20 or 30 years of life with this man do to me?

Love is a tough thing. It is something that we all want and that we strive for, pray for and hope for, but ultimately, it causes the most pain somewhere along the line.

So why do we do it? Why do we seek love, find it and hitch ourselves to someone for 50 years only for the risk of them leaving or dying to be right there in the background, waiting in the shadows. Why not just keep everyone at arm’s length and live happy solitary lives?

I guess it is because the moments we have with the people we love are so much better because they are there; the highs are higher and the lows aren’t as low.

Don’t get me wrong. It ALL terrifies me. Loving someone so much that them being gone would ruin me. Depending on someone so much that their absence will leave a huge gaping hole in my heart and life. But the other side freaks me out too…never loving someone that much, never experiencing that and never having that person…being alone. It’s something that I struggled with every so often when I was single. Loving and losing or never loving at all? Back then it was such an abstract thought, simply an existential argument. But now there is a person attached to it, a face, hands, a heart, a smile, a laugh…and clearly I made a choice.

But even when it was a theoretical exercise…it wasn’t that hard of a choice for me. To quote Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias:

“I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special”.

Personally, I’d rather have a lifetime of wonderful…but when you are a diabetic Julia Roberts and want a baby these are apparently your only options.