As this new year begins, Andrew and I are less than five months away from our wedding day, and the thought of our future life together brings with it many questions. What kind of wife will I be? What kind of mother? Am I ready for this next step in my life? Do I have what it takes to balance marriage, a family, and a job? Am I ready to grow up?
After two weeks in the comforts of my home, where my mother still cooks us dinner every night (and does my laundry), where most nights are spent together watching movies, where I can sleep soundly knowing that my parents are there to take care of me, the thought of adulthood can become frightening. After so many years of always having someone else to take care of me, I am preparing to take the ultimate step into adulthood: marriage. Yes, I have played at being an adult for quite some time now- I have worked a full-time job and I have lived on my own- but as I prepare to get married, I have come to realize that this has been more play-acting at adulthood than reality. When I was short on cash, I was able to ask my parents for money, which they never expected back (unless it was a larger sum). When I had a long weekend with no classes, I was always able to go home. I have always been able to lean on my parents for support, and they have always allowed me to be a child.
Even as I was playing in the adult world, I still wholeheartedly embraced my childhood. I was able to explore and slowly expand my world, knowing that if things became too difficult, I would always be able to return home. I would be able to start new, knowing that they could be risking another failure. When I decided to enter the convent, they let me drop out of school to do it immediately. When I decided to leave, they let me return home, even though I had no money in my bank account and only a few articles of clothing that I could call my own. And still they didn’t give up on me. They bought me new clothing, drove me to job interviews and work until I could get a car, and made sure that I always had enough to eat.
Yes, my parents were always thrilled to have me return to the nest (at least I think they were), but they also gave me the freedom to spread my wings and fly. They encouraged me to follow my heart, and also provided the safe haven that I might need if things did not go as I had hoped. I was never afraid to fly because I was never afraid to fall. I always knew that my parents would catch me.
My life has been good, and I know that married life will be good as well. But it will also be different. I will have to make a lot of decisions on my own, and with Andrew. I will no longer have parents who can make major decisions for me, or else can provide me with a great deal of advice from their own experience. I will have to create my own experiences, make my own choices, take total responsibility for my actions. In less than five months, I will take flight one last time, knowing that if I fall, it will not be into my parents’ nest. It will be a nest of my own, a nest that I will share with my future husband.
The thought is just as exciting as it is terrifying. My life is going to change drastically, and change is not always easy. That being said, I can still rest easy knowing that I am not preparing to go off on my own; I am preparing to share my life with my best friend and the man of my dreams. Becoming an adult and getting married does not mean that you become completely independent. We are not autonomous individuals living on our own little islands that sometimes collide for a while before breaking apart and drifting in different directions. Andrew and I are not totally separate individuals, choosing to live our two lives side by side. When we marry, we will become one. The two shall become one, and I will not be alone. I can depend on Andrew. I can lean on him when I’m not strong enough, just as he can lean on me. We can support one another. I am not alone in this.
And marriage will not divorce me from my family. Neither will adulthood separate me from them. When life gets rough, I know that I can still turn to my parents to help us. I know that they would never leave us in need when it is within their ability to help us. When I get married, my parents are not losing their daughter; they are gaining another son. Marriage multiplies love, expanding it in all directions. As I take this huge step into adulthood, I am gaining more people who love me and are loved by me, and my world is expanding further than I could have ever imagined. And it is an incredibly beautiful world.
So as the days count down and my impending nuptials grow closer, I find myself asking many questions. What kind of wife will I be? What kind of mother? Not every question can be answered right now, but I know this much: I want to be like my mother. It is the only way that I know how to really thank her. It is the only way that I know how to thank both of my parents for everything that they have done for them. If I can be half the mother and wife that my mother has been, I will be content. I am just so grateful that I have had such wonderful examples of what it means to be a spouse and parent, what it means to love, to serve, and to forgive. My parents are the best teachers that I could have ever asked for.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!