Monday, April 03, 2006

Child Brides

"Your chances are slim, you won't make it with him"
I have heard things like that again and again.
"You haven't grown up, you don't know who you are...
Don't you want to learn what it takes to go far?"
Those are the questions the culture hurls my way,
For I am a wife, a mother, and at "such a young age."

Sometimes I wonder why the rates of divorce are so high among young brides and grooms. For me (Married at age 20, 1st child at 21) marrying young has been the best thing I could imagine. It is true that I probably didn't "know myself" then...I have changed significantly in the past several years. However, I am sure that on my 50th birthday I will look back with the same puzzled remembrance of my 30s. "What was I thinking?" I will ask myself. "Was that really me?"
I don't believe that there is some magical door we enter at some unknown age which suddenly clears up the world's fuzziness and makes us "marriage ready." I think the answer to the high divorce rates lies in what a person has been taught. Does the 21 year old who enters into marriage with the notion that it is her "trial run" really have a better chance in her 30s? I don't know.
I do know that, by marrying before I became so opinionated (as ages seems to produce in us), I am able to grow more easily as "one" with my husband as we both seek to make sense of this world together. My thoughts, opinions and ideas are largely shaped by him (and before you feminists enter into calling this an attack on my individuality, ask yourself what would be so bad about being in such tight agreement with your spouse. I am sure it would certainly lead to less strife in the home).
I also know that marrying young has brought into my life two little blessings who never would have been had I done the things which seem to be a "must have" in today's culture (higher-education, career, financial stability, etc.). Now if I were to ask the average mother if she would trade her children for a college degree and a nice car parked in the driveway, the answer would inevitably be "no, my children mean the world to me." The same is true for me. I cannot imagine a world without these two little boys in it. No degree or house could persuade me otherwise.
Because my family is the greatest gift I have been given in this life (aside from the gift of my faith), I cannot imagine limiting that family by marrying well into the years God has allowed for child-bearing. Children are a blessing, albeit a blessing that sucks energy, forces selflessness and causes attention to self to be thrown out the window. Nonetheless, at the end of my life, the character-building trials of motherhood will far outweigh good looks and fun experiences of younger days.
By marrying young, before I knew everything, I have allowed myself the time to learn while teaching. I have two pairs of little eyes watching everything I do. I intend to continue learning well into motherhood. Instead of pre-marital, pre-children lessons in life, I now have a husband and kids to share in my lessons. That, to me, is much more enjoyable. I am learning how to cook with a chair pushed up to the counter as Jake helps me dump in the ingredients. I am learning how to keep house with Max sitting on my hip laughing as I sing to him over the noise of the vacuum. I am learning about God with my two boys in their Sunday best, watching my every move. Would I trade these things in order to have life's lessons under my belt before motherhood? Never.
Yes, I married young. Yes, I plan on having more than 3 children. Yes, I even plan on home-schooling them. So much for my chances of "cultural coolness." So much for getting in the "successful statistic." But who cares?

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