Mom and Dad are getting married, but not to each other
When two people have a child, their lives are forever intertwined -- no matter how their relationship crumbles, or how they choose to parent in the aftermath. Oh, how that which drives us to fume and rage at one another is also that which binds us inexorably together. Ah, the irony of life. Oh, blah blah blah.
But usually that's it. You have the kid, share that, and go on your separate paths -- filling your lives with separate things, meeting new people, making new friends, watching different TV shows, rooting for rival sports teams, etc. As long as it's not competitive, these many varied influences will only help your child grown into a more well-rounded adult. Hooray for separated parenting!
Although, recently, it's felt a little different.
Don't get me wrong, Edan's mother and I (plus our respective significant others) -- as much as we're friends and all -- aren't about to form some multi-family parenting compound where we eat meals together and sew each other's clothing. It's more like both sets of parents were cruising along, doing their own thing, but then stumbled upon the Death Star, and are being sucked into the grips of The Empire by the station's tractor beam.
Oh my God I am such a nerd.
By that I mean we're both making big, grown-up decisions that will affect the rest of our lives -- and we're doing it at almost exactly the same time.
About a year ago, Amanda and I started looking for a house. In Austin (where we live), it's impossible to find someplace that meets the urban chic standards of snobby people like us unless you're totally loaded (which we are not). We're talking $300,000 for shacks on postage stamps, just because they're in spitting distance of downtown, and $500,000 for anyplace you'd want to live. Disheartened, and afraid moving further out of the city would mean caving in to The Machine, or The Man, or just to the traditional American lifestyle that we'd thumbed our noses at as angsty, artsy-fartsy adolescents, we postponed the search.
Cut to a couple months ago. Another year of rent down the drain, and the creeping realization that rising prices are outpacing our incomes, we bit the bullet, met with a realtor, started searching, and found a darling three bedroom house that we totally fell in love with. Wood floors, lots of light, a backyard with potential -- and it wasn't even that hard to get rid of the disgusting smell of stale cigarette smoke. Awesome!
A few days before we closed on our house, so did Edan's mom and step-dad. Weird. They bought a bigger house in a more suburban neighborhood with a backyard that has already realized it's potential. Not that I'm making comparisons. I'm just saying.
A year and a half ago, on New Year's Eve, in fact, Amanda and I took a really long walk. We talked about commitment, and our future -- our conversation underscored by the crackle of neighborhood holiday parties, and the whistle of backyard fireworks. By the time we got back home, it was 2006, and we were engaged.
We didn't want to make huge deal out of it, plus we wanted to have a game plan before telling our families so we could avoid all the wedding-planning drama that would almost certainly ensue -- but of course we told Edan. She was 1 1/2 at the time, and didn't really care, so we left it. After all, Amanda and I have lived together since before Edan can remember, and the difference between two married people and a couple that's shared a house for three years is so subtle I'm not sure I can tell the difference -- so it's not entirely surprising that she was non-plussed.
Cut to a couple months ago. We'd been meaning to re-approach the subject with Edan, now that she was three and would probably understand. Then one afternoon she told us: "We're getting married! Me, my mommy, and [her step-dad]!" So, as a follow up, we reminded Edan that the two of us were also getting married -- but, now that marriage was old news (and still a foggy concept, let's be honest), she was again unimpressed. Not that it really matters. Only briefly was a tempted to shout: "NOT FAIR. We called dibs on being your married parents OVER A YEAR AGO!!!"
So here we all are, our seemingly separate lives falling oddly into sync. Inevitably I end up making comparisons between our two households (as much as I know I shouldn't). First it was simply as parents, now as homeowners and serious couples on the path to matrimony. The truth of it is, we're very different, so the comparisons are pointless, and justifying my decisions to myself is nothing but wasted energy.
I feel like a 5-year-old, relying on overly simplified personal mantras like: "just be yourself." But it's worth remembering, especially amidst all this grown-up stuff.