Meet The Fiancé. In one week, he will be The Husband.
He makes me laugh and think. He loves my quirks and gives me grace for my flaws. He is a companion and partner beyond what I could have imagined. He makes me better. He is the love of my life.
In this little house of second chances, a man has entered who brings both energy and peace. He has his own story to tell about a journey that landed him here with us…it is not mine to tell, but it is one that has helped him become just the piece this tribe has been waiting for.
And as he enters our world, it has once again become evident that this process of growth involves a breaking down as well. In order for something new to sprout, the soil must split apart and make room. The land is unsettled as it creates something beautiful.
Getting married again is wholly different from getting married for the first time.
There is, of course, the millstones we carry from our pasts. The triggers, the fears, the irrational responses to simple events. The things I carry are different from the things that The Fiancé carries, but the extension of empathy when these things arise is the same.
But there is also the ease of being adults in a complicated world, of knowing the difference between the significant and the minutiae that evaded our twenty-something selves. Our maturity allows us to keep the little adjustments of life together in perspective and save our energy for building on the things that matter. Grace abounds for things like household chores and choosing a television show, because we know that the focus of this life is found in giving kindness, support, and influence to those who surround your dinner table.
Adding a person to that table changes everything.
In the last month, as he has moved his life into our hearts and our home, we have dug deep, planting roots and getting to know each other in ways that reflect who we want to be as a family going forward. And I’ve found, over and over, that this Fiancé of mine, he is a forgiving man. He is loyal and patient, able to own his faults, and quick to overlook the faults of those around him. It is easy to be honest with our deepest selves, revealing both the ugly and the beautiful that only comes with unconditional love.
But of course, the other thing about getting married again is that it’s not just me this time. It’s Little Man, too. The poor guy is awash in the hormones that come with being thirteen, struggling to find himself and assert his personhood. And he is doing it in a home in transition, with a man who is still learning the rhythms of parenthood.
One day, Little Man listed out some grievances to me—changes that he didn’t like. In the process of adding a third person to our space, Little Man has felt displaced. It is happening on many levels, but to him, it is represented in the loss of a desk. In our office, there is only space for two desks, and Little Man lost his in favor of The Fiancé’s, who sometimes needs to work from home. While the rearrangement was fine in theory, the reality of the change was rough.
And so, Little Man enumerated his frustrations to me, wrapped up in a teary conversation about a desk.
But it’s not about the desk.
It’s about the way that joy often comes at the price of the familiar and the comfortable.
“Do you remember what kind of Mama I was when you were two or three?” I asked him. Of course not. Memories weren’t formed yet, and I told him about how a baby’s lack of long term memory is a gift for a new parent. He doesn’t remember my failings and missteps and the I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing panic attacks.
The Fiancé doesn’t get that opportunity, I told him. Little Man is a fully formed being, and this guy has to do all the new parent things with a child who has a long-term memory and a wicked-sharp tongue.
You have to choose to forget, I told him. You have to choose to be that baby with simple smiles and wet kisses. Because these men of mine…they are both big, but their relationship is new. First sproutings are fragile, and this relationship needs to be carried in our arms like a newborn. We need to remember to forget the stinky poopy diapers and the clumsy missteps.
We need to let go of our own spaces and desks and expectations and when we do, the thing that grows in its place is rooted deep and becomes the shelter that we were always longing for.
Change is a slippery thing.
Some days, I’m not all together sure if certain things need to adjust THIS much. I look at the spaces around me, littered with craters of change and I can’t envision the finished product. Other days, I contentedly settle in to the divot that change created, thankful that blasting away old habits allowed us to discover new growth just waiting for the sun.
It is messy and beautiful, this making of a family. A desk is not just a desk. It is assertions and questions, building and pulling back. A new plant is not a pretty thing. It is weird and wobbly, easily bent, tentative and fragile.
But this time of adjustment has only solidified in reality what we already knew in our hearts: we belong to each other.
And as we unpack our boxes and set up desks and pour out ourselves, we root and we plant the things that will last into eternity.
Each day, love grows.
It is here in everything, filling up corners, falling out of boxes, spilling over from souls.