Six weeks ago, we got engaged. Though I knew it was coming, Marrett pulled off a total surprise. It was Sunday afternoon, after a hard week, and Ollie and I headed to the playground to meet a friend and her son. It was a beautiful May day, sun warming us after a miserably cold spring, breeze rustling the newly-leafed trees. The boys were fresh off their naps, so I anticipated them playing easily together, giving us moms lots of space for catching up.
Just before playdate time, Marrett texted that since it was such a perfect day, he’d bring his kids and meet us at the park. It turned out my friend’s husband could make it after all, so the planned foursome now became nine. Shortly after we arrived at the playground, another friend’s family showed up, bringing our group to 15. Between this coincidence and Marrett’s over-excited mood, I should’ve figured out this was no ordinary day at the park.
But I didn’t. Even when his girls and the other girls in our party disappeared to the other side of the park, then texted 15 minutes later to say they had something to show us, I had no idea. Even when the whole party decided to go with us to see what the girls had to show, I had no idea.
It wasn’t until I saw the four daughters of our friends, standing evenly spaced around a pond, unfolding poster board signs, that it started to sink in. “Is this happening now?” I said to Marrett, in a voice that I’m told sounded angry, but I swear was just confused. I looked again, seeing now that the signs said Will. You. Marry. Me? And when I turned back to Marrett, shaking and eyes blurred with tears, he lifted the ring and said, “So, will you?”
I choked out a yes, which was then shouted across the park to let our friends know, and cheering ensued. Matching Broady Bunch t-shirts, which Cameron (Marrett’s oldest) had made, were passed out and photos taken. Somewhere along the way, I caught my breath.
But only for a moment, because that is how life goes for this bunch. The next week, I went to a conference while Marrett prepped his house for sale. The week after that I went to court with my ex over a custody disagreement. Then a trip to California, then softball, selling my Prius, a run of minor repairs on my house and Marrett’s, more negotiations with my ex through our lawyers, and some wedding planning where we could fit it in.
This life we are building together is nothing if not complicated. To join two households and families is a fearsome task under the best of circumstances. Every one of us, excepting the dogs, has already had a minor freak-out over the amount of change we are managing right now, and I’m sure we’ll each have at least one more before we’re married and all living in the same house together. And that is only the beginning of the transition.
Experts say that things often get harder for blended families after they are living together, and may not settle into a comfortable pattern for a couple of years. Which makes sense, since we’ll all be adjusting to a new home, Marrett’s kids to new schools. Marrett’s and my roles will be shifting gradually from fun friends of each other’s children to step-parents, which will certainly cause conflict. Not to mention that inevitable wearing off the rose-colored glow of the honeymoon period of our love.
It’s enough to overwhelm anyone. Yet, I know this is precisely the life to which God has called Marrett and I, as individuals and together. That has been made clear to us through prayer and conversation over the last two years. And when we follow the call of our Lord, we know we will be equipped for whatever lies ahead. By the Holy Spirit, through our continued prayer and meditation, by the support of those same friends who have brought us together and help us daily hold things together, by the guiding of our excellent counselors, spiritual director and sponsors, we will journey through these transitions with love and forgiveness and joy.
Yes, it’s complicated, but it’s also simple. Love God and love each other. Try your best and admit your failures. Simplify what you can and trust God with the rest.