As the mother of three boys, I have always dreamed of having a daughter to shop with, commiserate with- just to do girl things with. It was not to be. BUT- I am at the point in life that I am annexing girls, and I have hit the jackpot. Patrick's wife, Rachel, is a dream partner- a girl who is grounded and can corral his Dahl energy without crimping his spirit. The two of them are so complementary that they make me smile when I see them problem solve. They are democracy in action.
Matt is currently dating a patient, adorable nurse, who can stifle his Hamlet persona by reciting her life in the oncology ward. She is beautiful in spirit and visage, and she brings out the best in him in a way that I could never dream of. If they break up, I will be heartbroken. And I may trade him in for her.
Finally, Mike, the middler, now has a beautiful fiance who counters his intensity with an easy going demeanor. Mike is the most persistent man I know. For his entire life, he has set goals, identified steps, and chipped away. He worries. He plans. He over plans. And he gets it done. His energy is legendary. What he accomplishes in a weekend would take me a month. When he met Kathryn, he set a plan, activated it, chased her, sweet talked her, and VOILA! on August 21, they will be married.
To honor this happy event, we started the celebration season yesterday with a bridal shower, given by Grandmother Nash Burke and the Nash sisters.
The venue: The Chicago Yacht Club, right on the Chicago harbor. It was beautiful and so special. Kathryn received many thoughtful gifts- but mostly the afternoon was about creating a circle of love and support for these kids. Life is hard, and marriage is the mechanism that can lighten the load. It is also the organism that crumbles without constant consideration and care. Sacrifice or compromise often increases the odds of success. Most people with good marriages do not have a 50-50 split on any day; there is a sliding scale. There are even days when one partner has done ALL the giving- my recent recuperation brings to mind a few weeks where the give-take tilted so I did all the taking. The people who count kindnesses and keep track of every win or loss will not succeed. Those who are able to honestly express reasonable needs, and provide opportunities to make them achievable will succeed. That is WAY harder than it sounds, because life intrudes. Jobs, kids, money, family issues- these are all hurdles that must be adapted to. The work starts on the day of the wedding, and the day either partner stops working for the common union, the marriage begins to wither. It needs daily fertilization and sacrifice.
Mike's sacrifice yesterday was to skip the Blackhawks hockey game and make an appearance as the groom-to-be at a shower full of women. He never considered a different option, though he deliberately nattered and banked a bit of good will for the future. This weekend, he travels to Princeton for Kathryn's 5 year college reunion. Once again, he will be missing Indy and maybe hockey,but he will be there for Kathryn, making her weekend complete. I am wondering if he will wear U of I blue and orange, or become a Tiger in orange and black? He cannot lose with plain orange, and I strongly advise him to take the middle course. I hope the Ivy Leaguers are careful what they say about state schools, because Mike bleeds ILL INI.
It is refreshing to see young, happy, untested love. It makes me remember my younger days, making the leap to marry Steve. I had no idea how many challenging days were ahead, or how much joy. We moved away from our families, and it forced us to solve our squabbles internally. I never called parents, friends or siblings to weigh in on our differences. These days, we do not allow the kids to intervene in our "combat". It has made us a self-regulating, galvanized unit. We created a system that worked for us, not a construct that pleased others. I would advise all of my kids to follow this formula- even if it means skipping a holiday or a barbecue at the in laws.... even if the in-laws are us.
It is the job of those who love Kathryn and Mike to keep them focused on the fragile ecosystem that love and marriage creates. Based on the lovely people that I met yesterday- they will have a good support system. Knowing the two of them as I do- they have the tools to make a wonderful life. I am the proudest mother in law to be.