One of my post popular posts has been “What Single People Wish Married People Knew,” which you can read here.
I am now going to write a series called “What Married People Wish Single People Knew.”
Let me start this post by saying that I do struggle with people telling me how hard marriage is, which is the default response when people find out that I am in my thirties and not married. They often feel like it is their duty to warn me of the impending doom that will be mine if I choose matrimony as my life sentence. I usually get very defensive when this happens thinking, “My life can be hard, too! I would give up a lot to have someone choose me. To have children.”
But lately, after seeing more and more friends divorce, I have been thinking it might be wiser for me to listen than to get angry. I should discipline the bratty children named Ego and Arrogance inside my head. I should take to heart the advice of my married friends and learn something that will help me love better whether I get married or not.
Thus, I have decided to interview several couples and several divorced people for my book and I have asked them to share their advice for us single people. My next few posts will talk about some of the best advice I was given.
“Oh no!” you yell. “I trusted you, Kate. How could you make me sit through married-people advice?”
Calm yourself. Paying attention here could save us many years of heartache, and it could greatly benefit the relationships we have now, too.
Take a deep breath. Let’s walk through this together. We will be all right. And it will be worth it.
I want to start this series with an overview entitled I Do Not Get It.
My brother Will and sister-in-law Marie had twins two years ago. The twins were 8lb 10 oz and 7lb 7oz. That’s sixteen pounds of baby. Inside another human being.
Toward the end of her pregnancy, Marie grew wary of people saying, You look like you are about to burst! or You’re as big as a house! Her belly might not have been as big as a house, but it certainly was as big as a suburban condo. A very attractive, feisty, hippie, suburban condo, might I add.
Along with their twins, Jeremiah and Arowyn, Will and Marie have a beautiful five-year-old with cerebral palsy named John Mark. He is one of the loves of my life. Because John Mark can’t walk, they had three non-walking children for over a year. When Will takes the kids out, he straps one twin into a carrier on his front, he straps one onto his back, and then he sets John Mark in a stroller. Watching Will cart around three babies is as fascinating to watch as it is to watch a woman in Africa putting forty-eight pounds of water on her head.
The twins are now two years old. Last year at Christmastime, I visited this wonderful family. Will and I put on a puppet show on Christmas morning complete with a song called “No Tacos For Christmas” with latino accents. The three kids sat on chairs in front of our home-made puppet theatre and belly laughed for a full hour.
It is during moments like these that I ache for children.
A day or so after the puppet show, we went to the dentist’s office. Marie asked me to watch the twins for about half an hour while she got her teeth cleaned. I had worked at a daycare for five years, so I didn’t think that watching them would be very difficult.
I was wrong.
Jeremiah crawls crazy fast. I think he could beat most Olympians. His speed made my time at the dentist’s office difficult to say the least. When I held Arowyn, Jeremiah crawled down the hallway at record speeds, straight toward the not-child-proofed dentist’s drills.
When I set Arowyn down to grab her brother, she went speeding down the hallway toward that fun buzzing noise, which was actually someone getting a root canal. Surely a root canal is not a procedure during which a dentist would want an adorable toddler under his feet.
I spent that half hour running down the hallway, picking one baby up and plopping it down in the waiting room, and then running down the hallway again, picking the other baby up and plopping that one down in the waiting room. This went on for what seemed like forever.
Within minutes, I was frazzled. I was perplexed as to how Will and Marie could do this for fourteen hours a day.
Will and Marie barely ever complain about their kids. When asked, they don’t go a on a tyrannical rampage explaining how having twins is harder than surviving the Bubonic plague. (I have heard other people make this analogy about their twins.) In fact, Will and Marie often refer to their children as the most important blessing of their lives. There is power in speaking blessing, even when a child can’t understand those words.
Will and Marie are also super-humanly patient when their children are screaming louder than a bad emo band for nine hours straight.
I often say with a certain air of arrogance that I understand that having a family is difficult. After I spend time with Will and Marie and their kids I realize one important thing:
I. Do. Not. Get. It.
I don’t understand what it is like to live day to day with someone, weaknesses and all. I don’t understand what it is like to have children vying for my attention every hour of the day, like Will and Marie. I can’t understand it because I haven’t experienced it.
That is one of the reasons I wanted to write this series: so I can get it just a little more.
Okay friends, before I even start, fire away at some of your best married people advice.
PS-I just wanted to add here that you can now get on my newsletter list by clicking on the link at the top right of this page. You will not get very many of newsletters, maybe one every two months, and you will get two chapters of my new book before it comes out. Fun!