Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Book of Love

You marry the cover, but you live with the book.”

My husband and I heard this a couple days before a big family wedding. My brother got married for the second time – to a lovely girl, I might add.

But this philosophy, so to speak, made we think….as did the wedding. I can’t help it. When I go to a family wedding, I pull out my scorecard. I start taking mental notes. Their family versus our family. Of course I know it’s not a contest, but I can’t help comparing my family with all of its quirkiness to the other family with all of its shiny newness. They’re pretty and perky and seem to do everything right. We’re awkward and shy and keep tripping over our own feet.

Sound familiar? You bet it does. A family wedding is like a mini version of a high school prom. There are insiders and outsiders. Populars and unpopulars. Prom king and queen (groom and bride) and the rest of us. Some will embarrass themselves. Most others will be wallflowers.

But back to the book, which is, essentially, what a family is. We’re the book inside the couple’s cover. Sure, they, and the world, look amazing for that one day, maybe longer. And there are several chapters in this book, each representing part of the family. Each chapter grows as life goes on and I’d even say that sometimes you have to re-read a chapter or two because your impression has changed based on other events.

And that is exactly why a wedding is a terrible time to judge a family. There are speeches of gratitude and love and support for and from the couple. Funny stories are shared. Some people meet and some get reacquainted. It’s easy to compare family dynamics and find one side or the other lacking in some quality.

But for me, looking back on 24 ½ years of marriage, the real story is when things go south. And I’m not talking about vacation. When the chips are down and sad and bad things happen. When life and people get really, really messy (and they will), that’s the worth of a family. That’s when somebody proves their love - when they are willing to step up as others need to step away.

I wish my brother and my new sister-in-law a lifetime of happiness. I hope their newlywed glow continues as long as possible. But when it fades, and it will, and the pages of their book get dark or scary, I hope that both sides of the family do their part…whatever that is. To, me, that will be a happy ending. And I’m a sucker for happy endings.


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