People always say becoming a parent changes you. I did not believe them – I rarely believe anyone about anything – but I am beginning to see evidence that they might be right.
As you may have read in a previous Week in Review, Amanda and I travelled to Buffalo to attend a wedding. We had a great time, and we are very happy for Jen and Martin. But in general, I am not a wedding or marriage person. It is not that I am opposed to either. Amanda and I are married, and I have been honored to be a part of several weddings as a ring bearer, giving away a bride, and even officiating one ceremony. I think if people want to marry they should (and should be allowed), but I don’t think it makes their relationship stronger or more important than it was the week before the wedding.
Being private, secular, and somewhat introverted people, we have always had difficulty understanding the appeal of weddings – public, usually religious, gregarious events. Therefore, Amanda and I have spent the majority of our 15 year relationship “living in sin.” Last year we decided to legally marry. We eloped – to the elopement extreme (we did not dress up, did not invite anyone, and went back to work after having a celebratory brunch). We wrote really nice vows and exchanged them with each other at the city clerk’s office. It was a special way of reminding each other why we wanted to be together, but neither of us thought it was a defining or altering moment in our relationship. We still feel a little ambiguous about being “married.” We never refer to each other as husband or wife, we do not wear rings, and we do not consider the date we married our anniversary (which is good because Amanda never remembers it*).
Since I feel this way it is not surprising that I have never related to couples at their wedding. Until this time, sort of. I am embarrassed to admit that the couples I related to were the bride’s and groom’s parents (who are my parents’ age). I spent the reception dreaming about what I will say when I give the toast at my son’s wedding or what song I will dance to at my daughter’s wedding. I then became frightened by this sentimental, crazy person I was becoming. I sheepishly admitted these thoughts to Amanda, and she confessed to having the same experience. I felt as if I saw a glimpse of the new parent-me person I have yet to meet. I hope I witnessed him in a moment of weakness and by the time the kid is an adult he is no longer fantasizing about their wedding. A study was recently conducted that claimed men become 2% more politically liberal after having a daughter. I must be having a son.
This experience did help me gain a new perspective, and Amanda and I apologize to our parents for not understanding why they want those “special moments.”
*this topic came up recently when we pulled out our marriage license to make a copy for insurance purposes. We realized that the date of our “wedding” was the same as the first day of the pregnancy – exactly one year later. Maybe the date has more significance than we are allowing.