Between I will and I do….the “baby” question

Getting married at this stage of my life has its definite advantages. There is much of what I wanted to achieve and do that has been done.  It also comes with its own challenges.  Challenges that one would expect like learning to let go of some independence, learning what inter-dependence looks like and figuring out how to share my space naturally with another, appreciating that when God says two are better than one and a cord of three isn’t easily broken, that the bonding of this cord happens as things are resolved (this means wrestling, stand offs, choices and inevitable conflict at times). Challenges as families shift in their understanding of each other and the way that we are involved in each other’s lives.

It also means that we learn to trust another’s involvement in our lives and our life choices:  not because the other is the “boss of me” but because the other actually cares about me and wants me to be a good “boss of me”.

One of the hardest things for me, especially as we have made choices not to live together, not to sleep together and are doing our courtship the “old school” Christian way of preparing for marriage- there is lots of anticipating and excitement, but also recognising that our first year of marriage may have lots of ‘refining moments’– is the fact the people frequently feel the need to tell me to hurry up and have babies because I am getting on…. (Open private speech bubble: It’s hard not want to ask you what you know about my ovaries or my fiancé’s reproductive capacity in these conversations: Close private speech bubble)

Thank you for believing that I will make a good mom.

Thank you for being interested in our lives.

And now I am going to thank you for trusting that this is something that my fiancé and I have spoken about; have prayed about; have made choices about too.  A wise friend said to me when I voiced my frustration:  There isn’t only one way of having babies nowadays – and there are no guarantees regardless of age or planning or how much of a good parent one may potentially be. My Ouma had her last child at the age of 44, AFTER a mastectomy and a bout with breast cancer.  He is perfectly healthy.  Yes, the risks are there.  Yes, it may be harder but it also may be easier for me than for some of my other friends who have done EVERYTHING right – they eat well, they keep their body fat at the optimal percentage, they exercise, they LOVE children and they have a supportive community around them and yet, I know their heartaches and things just not happening despite trying for months at the optimal age. Not just one friend – numerous friends! There are no guarantees in any of this.

It has been hard to know how to respond when the day we got engaged people started telling me I needed to start trying; or asking how long we planned on waiting because….well, you know, Lex, you are old; or going to an appointment with the lady doctor and being told to go home and make a baby now because the egg was in the perfect place according to the scan (She got asked to behave!).  It’s hard when I know that people don’t mean this badly. 

We would like to walk down the aisle first.  We would like to be in a position, where as a self-employed person, I don’t need to work for 3 months and we will be financially comfortable.  We would like to have memories of us 2 before we make memories of us 3 or us 4.  We also know that we want to choose a baby –regardless of whether we ‘make a bio-baby’ or not.

In the midst of all the pending changes, the last thing my heart, my brain and my body can cope with is the idea of being a mom on top of this all.  Yes, there are risks. We are risking joining 2 lives.  We are risking making decisions around careers and homes and futures as a couple.  We are risking giving up individual adventures to have a joint adventure.  Allow us to risk this well before we risk together with the life of another little person.  We want to risk for and with them. We want to love them well – more than well.

Just give us a little bit of time to get there!

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Weddings, details and what I am really excited about….

3 and a half weeks ago I got engaged to my Bear – my best friend, my supporter, the man who has my back, who fell in love with me and not the idea of the me – the idea of me being what I do for a living or project.  Rather I am blessed enough to be loved by someone, who I love back, who sees the fragile, gentle parts of me too and loves those parts tenderly. 

Our formal engagement came after setting a wedding date – we had too many faraway friends & family members to do this any other way if we wanted there to be a chance of them being with us.  So, for about 10 weeks I walked around with the knowledge there was a hoped for date….about 8 weeks ago, there was an official speaking to my parents and on the 15th June there was the official proposal.  A thought out, romantic, overwhelming spoil of a day – one of those days that you wish you could get lost in for longer than the permitted 24 hours.

I can’t wait to get married.  I can’t wait to be MRS BEAR.  It has been truly scary having to confront my wedding phobia.  There it is out loud:  Marriage doesn’t scare me as much as weddings themselves do. These past few weeks I have had to confront this phobia because what I think does count.  My amazing parents (who have been married for 40 years) and sister in law have taken on the task of “wedding planning team” in the province where we are getting married.

I had to make a commitment to not be an ostrich and to be willing to talk about things.  So this is how we did it.  We had a sanction on any wedding talk except for dedicated times.  We enforced this with family, with friends and with well-wishers.  This past weekend I flew to spend time with my family and sign off with them on the details:  you know fabrics, chapel, photographer, reception venue, DJ, décor….it was a really busy weekend of details.  Details which overwhelm and scare me!

Friends popped over to say congrats and hellos and asked me if I was excited about the wedding.  I got text messages asking if I was excited about my dress.  I have had people want to know if all the details are on track.  We have had to negotiate the tight rope of the wedding guest list- something I guess only preludes the table seating plan….and in the midst of it all, as much as choosing who to marry is a big deal what has struck me time and time again is that I am more excited about being married to my Bear than I am about the details.  Every single service provider was concerned about my reaction to rain or to something not being perfect.  Our wedding day is about us being a part of community of family and friends and honouring God and them for the people that we are today, being able to stand and say I do.

DO I think that our wedding is going to be lovely? YES.  Do I want him to think that I look beautiful?  Yes.  Do I want people to have fun?  Yes – More than all of this though I want there to be love and hope and kindness and joy present.  I want us to be surrounded by a community of people who choose to be there- not just on the day we get married, but in the years ahead.  I want us to be talking about marriage and what it means more than talking about colour schemes.  I want us to be laying firm foundations with wise input for the biggest adventure of our lives.

Really, I am serious when I say to you the thing I am most excited about is being Mrs Bear: More than lace; more than colour schemes; more than worrying about the weather.  I am excited about the Marriage part.  The wedding seems small in comparison. Image