This past weekend, my sister-in-law married an aspiring minister. After the two pledged their love for one another before God, family and friends, they shared their first kiss. The wedding was simple: Food was served as a potluck rather than catered, the DJ was a computer playlist, and the reception hall was the basement of the church. Yet, it was a beautiful, happy affair with all the sincerity a more pompous event might lack.
I confess that my attention was divided between the principal couple, a handsome groomsmen and a squirming baby in my lap. I watched as the Green Mountain Man bravely stood before the crowd swallowing his tears. A little less than a year ago, he was chocking back tears as I climbed the steps to our altar.
My wedding is a happy blur in my memory. I recall the calm I felt as my hair was styled. I remember crying along with most of the wedding party during the ceremony. Most clear in my mind is my vows. I can hear our promises echoing in my head and my determination to keep our vows. I can’t recall a word from the sermon accompanying the wedding. I don’t know who I hugged in the reception line, what I did afterwards or where I went.
Only a year has passed (almost) since that day, but it seems much longer. Don’t mistake my meaning. The year has been delightful, and I adore my husband more today than I did last October; however the changes I have experienced in the past 365 days are worth several years of maturation.
When we returned from our honeymoon, the Green Mountain Man and I learned how to live with one another. We navigated differences in dinnertimes, breakfast rituals and evening activities. We solved the pressing issue of how long the milk should sit on the counter before being refrigerated. This was an ongoing argument. That nearly resulted in two experiments: One recording how quickly bacteria multiply in milk and the other measuring the specific heat of milk. In the end, the argument was resolved by compromise rather than science. I do not complain if he leaves it out between pouring it on his cereal and adding it to his coffee. He tries to return it to the refrigerator soon afterwards.
Once these challenges were conquered, we were forced to learn how to live with a pregnant woman whom I had never met. Although this person masqueraded as me, she often left me as baffled as she did the Green Mountain Man. I simply didn’t know why I was crying, nor did I know my own physical limits until I was puffing, cranky and tired. The girl who barely needed naps was snoring on the couch at 8:30 every evening.
That pregnant woman is gone, and now the Green Mountain Man, the Squiggle and I are learning to live as a threesome. During his second and third month of existence, the Squiggle seemed to feel displaced and spent most of the evening crying inconsolably. Now that he is 3 months old, he has cheered up and accepted the fact that his home is not a warm, waterbed womb.
Although he’s a fairly easy baby, I feel tremendous responsibility for him. I wake up in the night to ensure that he is still breathing. I jump when he cries. I limit the amount of time he spends in the car seat to one or two half hour trips a week. Life is so different from last October.
Only a year ago, I had no need to tell anyone where I was going or why. I happily stayed up until 3:00 a.m. watching the stars with my beloved. I cooked (or didn’t cook) dinners to please myself, and I selected my outfits based on my mood.
Now, I discuss trips with my husband and feel odd if I don’t have a baby in the back seat. I wake up at 3:00 a.m. to rock an infant to sleep. I plan daily meals that please both my husband and me, and I am confined to clothes that allow for easy nursing – I am truly dressing for someone else.
Through marriage, the Green Mountain Man transformed a carefree girl into a wife. Then, we turned each other into parents. Truly, marriage is capable of magic. Witches and wizards could only change the outer form of things, say from a human to a goldfish or a goat to a giant. Marriage changes the person.