“So, are you thinking about kids?”
The inevitable question after the wedding. I’ve gotten this question a few times, though curiously enough, not from my immediate family. Still, I’m a planner, and as Zach will admit, I’m always thinking about the next step. We don’t have many friends starting families yet, which make it seem further away. However, we started planning a visit to the first baby among our college friends. That visit brought this topic to the forefront of our minds.
Our wedding ceremony was a seamless incorporation of both of our faiths, and I was so happy with the outcome. It didn’t feel like a compromise, but when I think back on it, there was a lot of compromise! I gave up my dream of being married in a Catholic church with a mass, but was able to secure a priest to co-celebrate the ceremony. Similarly, Zach on his own may have selected a ceremony with less ritual, but he met me in the middle and we created something beautiful. To trust that having children will work out similarly seems both naive and incredibly freeing.
I entered our marriage with a careful combination of research and trust. Will the same combo serve me well in starting a family? Is it irresponsible to not have it all “figured out?” The nuances of our differences seem debilitating in some ways. Zach’s spiritual life relies much less on ritual and education than mine does. Our questions go beyond “Do they get a baptism or a bris?” We are raising fundamental questions about what our spiritual life will look like for our children, beyond holidays and into life cycle events, weekly services and religious education.
For example, how will our child learn about our faiths? Will we rely on traditional religious education in one or both of our religions, join a community like Interfaith Families Project or rely on instruction at home? Religious education gave me the religious and spiritual foundation for a healthy adult life. I worry that less structure will mean my child has less to fall back on in times of doubt, fear or sadness. Zach has a different view of religious education and celebrates personal spirituality and growth over group structure and rules. In my spiritual life, one begot the other; Zach worries that one will preclude the other.
What does this mean for us? First of all, in no way am I doubting that my decision to marry Zach was what God intended for us, or that I made a decision without considering all of these things. On the contrary, I made that decision in careful prayer and consideration. Zach and I discussed these things before we got married and saw a willingness to share and compromise. Second, it means that the time frame for thinking about kids might be longer for us. We might want to start considering what our family faith life, religious observances and education plan looks like before we start talking about actually having a baby. Looks like my research skills will continue to come in handy for our family, even after the wedding!