Creating Family.

November 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Posted in NaBloPoMo, Stuff Outta My Head | 9 Comments

I’m not sure what it was about my last post that made it seem like I am not thankful to have my husband here, as short as his stay this weekend might be, but I want to apologize if I came across that way.

I miss him when he’s gone. And I don’t relish the idea that he’s getting back on a plane this week.

But just like I am thankful to have Lucky in my life, I am also thankful for Charlie. And I am thankful that I am not a single parent 100% of the time.

That doesn’t mean I can’t miss him when he’s gone, or talk about how I dislike his travel schedule either. My story, right now, includes missing my husband when he’s gone. Still my story.

And this is kind of an appropriate topic, because yesterday Charlie and I went to a wedding, where they had a Catholic ceremony; one of my few experiences with Mass (goodness, is it even capitalized?).

I was intrigued by the responses that everyone seemed to know by rote, the kneeling, the pagentry of the Communion. I sat next to a friend who is Catholic, and after the ceremony, we talked at length about how things were really different from when we were all kids: confession now is a face to face conversation with a priest. Even some of the rituals of the church, like Communion, are much different.

And I have to admit, I was so curious about the priest. As a person who did not grow up Catholic and is not very religous, the idea that the elderly priest believed in a God so deeply that he would eschew a wife and/or kids and dedicate his life to the church was fascinating to me.

It was interesting, too, to see the KIND of teachings the priest talked about.

Our friends that got married yesterday are not planning on having children; they are one of the rare few people who have decided that being parents is not for them. And (because of course I’m sensitive to the whole “child(ren)” discussion right now) I paid attention to how often the topic of children came up.

First reading: Adam and Eve, and God tells them to go and “be fertile.” Second reading: Be welcoming. The priest, in his homily, tells them that the wedding, today, is about welcoming each other as husband and wife. And welcoming children, which will create their family. They actually vowed to welcome children with open arms as part of their wedding vows.

This idea that children made you a family somehow seemed an integral part of the service.

And it made me think about this whole idea of creating family, and how I felt about the definition of family, and how the newly married couple defines their family differently than what the priest talked about. And then I started thinking about how my feelings about creating family have changed over the years.

When we were trying for children, I believed that only kids would make Charlie and I a family. I’m not sure why I felt this way, honestly. Maybe I internalized the teachings of my childhood church more than I thought. Maybe I felt like a family was something you had to work to create; that a person, or people, who were a combination of Charlie and me bonded us as a family more than any ceremony could. I don’t know.

What I DO know is that now I feel completely different.

Charlie and I, when we moved in together, created our family. When we pledged to each other to build a life, when we merged our possessions, when we went to family events as a team, together. When we realized that we loved each other and wanted to wake up next to each other for the rest of our lives.

THAT is when we started our family, he and I. And when we finally brought home Lucky, our family – the one we created – expanded to include him.

Familes are created every day. And none look alike. Whereas Charlie and I went the traditional route of getting married and having a child, our friends B&C have decided that they are a family, just the two of them. My friend K, who swore to me after her divorce that she will never marry again, has her family: two children with her partner. We have girlfriends who, thankfully, are allowed to marry in Massachusetts, who have been living together for the past two years, who have decided to marry, but who insist that they are a family already. I’d guess that if pressed, the priest would say that his family is his church and God.

Family is one of those things that YOU, as a person, define. And that definition changes over the years.

Today I define our family as Charlie, Lucky, and I.

And I am very thankful for my family.



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  1. Serenity, I wasn’t trying to say you shouldn’t miss your husband when he is away. You absolutely should miss your husband. I miss mine everyday. Your story right now is a husband that travels. I’m not trying to be harsh here, but it doesn’t make you a single parent though. I haven’t lived with my husband in almost 3 years and I still have a hard time identifying myself as a single parent. I still can count on M to spend time with our son and to help with difficult decisions, but the day to day is all me. I usually try to stay out of this debate online, but what I was trying to say was that being a single parent is not the same as parenting solo for a short period of time. I guess I’m just sensitive about it these days and the title of your last post brought that out. I know there are many women out there that choose to be single moms (one of my dearest friends is a kick ass single mom by choice), but it isn’t easy and it isn’t a choice many of us out there made. And, it certainly isn’t the same as having a partner out of town. Like you I started my family the day I got married and had big plans for the way my family would grow. My family is very different from what I had “planned.” I have learned to accept it. I’m sorry if I’m coming across rude. I just felt I had to explain what I meant in my last comment.

    • Ah. I get it. It’s the term “single parenting” and what that really means. For me, it’s short term, and an inconvenience, but not my life. Which is true. I honestly had no idea I’d make people upset by using that term. BUT! It makes total sense to me. Thanks for further explaining; it’s really helpful.


  2. Huh, I totally got what you meant in your last post but perhaps that is because I’ve been in a similar situation. It’s not so much about the solo parenting as it is about missing your partner.
    What I find interesting about this post is how can this couple stand up in church and pledge their love in front of God while disagreeing with a large part of what the priest said? Like you, I wanted to be married prior to parenting and my view was much the “we are not a family until we have kids” yet I don’t know where that came from given I wasn’t raised with a strong religious back ground. Being a parent through adoption, I definitely have a different view of what a family can mean. I am comfortable with what it looks like for us but I also realize it’s not how many others may see it. The important thing is you are thankful for what you have.

    • Same with me! There was no judgment at ALL – but I couldn’t understand how a couple who didn’t want children could be a part of a ceremony that put such emphasis on becoming a family by welcoming children. I chalked it up to my own sensitivity about families and babies; I could have misread the importance, too.

  3. I think a large part about being Catholic is the tradition of being Catholic, if that makes sense. So you can tra-la-la your way through the parts you don’t fully believe because of the tradition.

    We had a Catholic wedding, even though we’re not religious, at all. But I felt strongly I needed to get married standing in the same exact spot as my parents, my grandparents. When I go into that church what I feel is FAMILY, no matter what words are being said – because that is where my family has been created for several generations. Weddings, christenings, funerals – all there. So I was creating my family there that day … by adding to the history we already had.

  4. I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools from K-College graduation. Ironically, it was a philosophy class I took my junior year in college where I finally broke with religion, no longer believed in the existence of “a” god, and began my agnostic path (which has served me better than Catholicism ever did).

    Yes, at the core of the church is its continuation and it is ALWAYS succession planning. I wonder if the priest was aware that they planned to live child-free? Just in that that is not a choice that the church would preach or support outright (which is not to say they can’t be Catholic, but it is to say that they won’t be contributing to the future state of the church by procreating for them).

    Since I married later in life, 37, and given the strained relationship I had with my parents, I always considered my husband my family. In fact, how we fit together (perhaps because we are both adopted), was one of the reasons I chose him as my husband. I needed someone who would always have my back, who ‘got’ me, and who was in my corner. However, I learned by high school that my family was going to be those I chose to have in my life so perhaps that skewed my perception of my husband as family.

  5. I also grew up Catholic. Mass every Sunday, Catholic school, Sunday School, etc. etc. My husband is not religious (although he was born a Catholic) so I don’t practice anymore. I found so many things about the church hypocritical. We got married by a minister outside in a field, which is something that never would have been condoned in the Catholic church! I definitely hear you on the whole subject of family, which is one of the reasons why I have moved away from the church. There are so many ways to make a family that don’t necessarily involve a man, woman and them procreating “naturally”. I have gay friends who have married, friends who have adopted, friends who have gone through IVF or other fertility treatments, and friends who have decided not to get married and/or have kids. They all have their own special families and shouldn’t be treated any differently. Glad you wrote this post because it definitely made me stop and think.

  6. I guess you could argue that they are agreeing to accept children into their family – and those children could be nieces and nephews or children of friends who are like family. But I do agree, why agree to readings that include children if you don’t intend to have any. But, most of the Catholics I know leave that decision “up to God” and I think that’s what the true intent of that reading generally is.

  7. Yes, I too found it curious, well, hypocritical of a couple who had decided to not have children, be wed in such a ceremony that talks about children as being a natural progression of their union. Yet I had to get married in Bali with an Anglican priest even though neither my husband and I are Anglican anymore (long story). Ritual and history are very powerful don’t you think? I also had that subconcious thought that children made a family until the day I realized that may not happen. I really had to search my heart. We also had a long journey to bring a child into our family of two via adoption and once again I had to redefine what family looked like.

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