My daughter got engaged last summer, and her wedding is coming up fast. Even though we’ve spent the past few months booking a venue, reserving a church, selecting her wedding dress and making all the hundreds of other decisions that seem to be required for a wedding these days, it has only recently begun to sink in that she’s actually getting married. And soon.
I still remember the first day I brought her home from the hospital, and how everything single thing in my world suddenly felt so different. The house my husband and I had lived in happily for a couple of years had to be completely reconfigured to accommodate a baby, a good night’s sleep became nothing more than a distant memory, and even the shortest outing required careful planning as we either had to find and hire a reliable baby sitter or pack a diaper bag with more provisions than I normally packed for a week’s vacation back in my childless days. My husband and I had shifted from being a couple to being a family, and life was never the same again.
Later, as we were raising both my daughter and her younger brother, I couldn’t even imagine what life would be like when they grew up and moved out to start their own lives. The four of us were a complete and happy family unit, and the thought of us not living together anymore was almost frightening. At the time, I had a friend whose youngest daughter had recently moved out and I asked her how she could possibly cope with that loss. She told me that in her opinion, the teenage years were God’s little way of making it a bit less painful to see them go. And as the years went by, I understood that she was right.
When our turn came to have an empty nest, it wasn’t the horrible adjustment I thought it would be, because I realized that I hadn’t really lost my kids at all. They had grown up, but we were still a family and our relationship was simply different than it was when they were children. Now I could see the young woman and the young man they had become, and I liked what I saw. And the little bonuses of having an empty nest, such as the extra closet space, much smaller grocery bills and not having to listen to either country or rap music in my house helped, too.
In a few short weeks, our family is going to change again, and in a big way. My daughter will be married, which means her first priority will be her new husband, and not us. She’ll even have a new last name. But, once again, this is just a change that means our family will be different, and that’s not a bad thing. We’re gaining a terrific son-in-law who already feels like a member of our family. It’s reassuring to see my daughter in love with someone who makes her happy and to know that they are choosing to spend their lives together. And I know she is marrying into a wonderful family whose love and support will only enrich her life.
I have come to believe that family is something that is both constant and constantly changing. And that change isn’t always a bad thing. In the case of this particular change that is coming to our family, I believe it’s a very good thing indeed.