Last summer I was driving with a couple who was about to get married. As we spoke about their upcoming wedding plans, I sensed their excitement. At one point the conversation turned to children, and they discussed the prospect of shifting from a couple into a family someday. I shared that I like to think of a married couple as a family already -- a whole unit, a complete one -- even before children are added.
It's a subtle shift of thinking, but it's been worthwhile for me to remember that Joel and I make up a family. Our three children have been amazing, welcome additions into our existing family, but they're not what caused us to become one.
It was nine years ago today that I started my family by marrying my best friend. He's still my best friend.
He's seen me through grad school, through surgery, through pregnancies and labor. He's been by my side when I changed jobs. He's had the vision and know-how to buy our first house, fix it up, sell it, and then build another. He's changed countless diapers, he's cleaned up after sick children, and he's taken the girls out on afternoons when I've needed down time.
He's made me laugh -- oh, how he's made me laugh! He's loved me when I've been moody. He's said I'm beautiful when I've had really bad hair days. He's been stable when I'm tumultuous. He's refreshingly simple when I'm prone to overanalysis. He's listened when I've repeated the same stories too many times, and he's encouraged me when I've been unable to encourage myself.
He makes me a better me.
After all, he's my family.