Friday, June 03, 2011

Through all that may come.

I was almost interviewed by a reporter last week. She was researching couples who had their children before getting married, and even though the interview didn't happen, being that our situation didn't fit the scope of the article, it got me thinking about family. The demographics of families are changing.

Prenuptuals. Starter marriages. Marriage of convenience. I reject the argument that marriage is trivial. I don't think it can be dismissed so easily. Any institution, from our Senate to our schools of medicine, to the oaths we take upon entering a trade Union or public office, all of these are only as sacred as the vows we keep. If we look to the roots of vows and contracts, we see they were essential in society, sanctifying something before the community to ensure they were honored.

I think there is still a need for the sacred.

In that way I believe those who were once denied the right to marriage now treat the institution with more respect and importance than those who have always had the right, and take it for granted. Some still fight for the right to marry while to others it is just what is done after high school. It is no wonder so many marriages fail.

I am a statistic in that respect too. After having a failed marriage before, that perhaps I entered too lightly, there was a very long battle that ensued over my son, and I now treat my successful marriage as sacred.

Jennifer and I didn't plan on getting married. In fact, at first we were just having fun. We were friends instantly, and built on a friendship that has always, through diaper changes and fevers and working away from home, and medical problems, and through all the happenings and moves and job changes, always been there. The vows that we took were an explanation to everyone of how important to us that friendship had become. We were so proud the other day when Owen in the back seat saw Paulo's, and randomly explained our whole wedding day from scratch. "I went in the restaurant, and up the big stairs, and ate bread with butter, and cake, and you were married!" He got it, at five years old. It was a big deal.

In getting to what I wanted to say here I should explain that my oldest son, Cole, is from the failed marriage previously mentioned. We have custody of him, but he goes to his mother's house about 30% of the time. His transitions are difficult because in her house there are different rules. Even though this has been his routine, and his life, since he was 2, I think he always feels like a bit of an outsider. We do everything to let him know that this is his home.

Cole had been hanging out with my Mom, while Jenn and I took Owen down to one of his many visits to Sick Kids, and he looked up at some figurines we have on our mantle. They represent our family, because we wanted everyone to be able to remember everyone else even when we all can't be here at home. When she asked who they were, he explained that one was me, one Jenn, and then that there was a baby, Daisy, and a little boy, Owen, but then he got muddled. He was left with a little girl, and a bigger girl who represents my first daughter, Seila, who passed away. At the heart of it he was hurt, because he didn't know where he fit.

He had misunderstood. In reality, he is the little boy, Daisy the little girl, and Owen the baby, because five years ago when we first put them up, there were only four of us. Daisy and Seila were added later.

I then pointed up to the photo we have on our living room wall of the old house on the other end of town. I said: "Our house is different now, and we had a different car back then, and different furniture. You had a different bed, and your clothing is different, because you grew, and all the old clothes no longer fit you. We added a Daisy, and lost Nala (our yellow lab who used to sleep on his bed) and in that old house little baby Owen started walking and talking and became a boy.

Really, nothing is the same as it was then, only three short years ago. I then explained what is the same ... us. We are all still here together because we are a family, and that's what defines a family. What happens to one of us happens to us all because we are in it together.

I believe that the success of our family is not in the work we put into it, but the friendship we have together through life. Marriage and family are two sides of the same coin.

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