Young & Married with a Kid
I've always heard "advice" on getting married and having kids young that usually falls on opposite ends of the conversation.
1. Being married and having kids while you're young is the best thing you can do.
2. Being married and having kids young is the worst thing you can do.
I suppose that any of the hard and painful aspects of marriage can enter into this conversation: rushing into things, being naive, being irresponsible, being reckless, falling into the unknown, or being quickly swept up into a world of intense responsibility. I know young people who are divorced, old folks stuck in loveless and dry relationships, young kids with unplanned babies, middle aged-people who cannot conceive, and everyone in between.
As I walked along the sidewalk tonight with my little boy and my husband, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that marriage is hard.
It is hard in the way that running a marathon is hard, or studying for years to get your degree is hard, or standing up at a funeral is hard, or finally arriving at the peak of the mountain after a long hike is hard.
Marriage is the kind of hard that requires utterly everything you have in the most intense way and offers you a endless, unfathomable sea of even more depth in return. Chesterton wrote, "Marriage is an adventure, like going to war."
Marriage, and having children, is intense.
And if you and your person are open to this type of intensity, knowing that this covenant is going to demand the type of dying to self that truly prunes the soul, then marriage is the vocation that will give you the peace beyond words. If you are not open, fully open, to the level of self knowledge and sacrifice that the cross of marriage demands, then yes, it will be hard and it will be like a war that wages ten thousand battles.
But if you are down for the self knowledge and sacrificial love and the whole process of pruning your soul, then I think that marriage, young or old, will feel like home. It will feel like the best kind of home.
I remember the summer I was engaged. As I was sitting on the beach beside my dad, I asked him, what is the best part about being married? And he smiled and said, "Knowing that I was home. Your mom is home."
If the demands of marriage feel like a beautiful struggle of building and settling into a home, a home with another person, then I think it is a struggle worth every pain. Marriage is worth it, if you are open to the beautiful struggle. Children are worth it, if your arms are open wide to the mystery of loving and molding human persons in a fallen world.
As we walked back with our frozen yogurt, pushing Leo in the stroller, we ran into a young man who summarized this conversation actually more poignantly than I. He said, "Man, having a child activated my life."
I agree. Not that I wasn't living before marriage, because I was, but entering into my vocation of wife and mother with open eyes has activated my life in a way that is intensely more profound, more painful, and entirely more beautiful than I ever was before.
My husband and son feel more like home than ever. And I believe that even the deepest pain of my vocation is glorious and freeing, young or old.