Thursday, August 21, 2008

Christopher

The entire family, last Easter: L to R - Nathan, Michael, Ben, Heather, Tommy, Alyssa, Chris.

This year we got an extra family member in the form of Chris, who came to us in a long and complicated manner. We knew he would only be with us for about a year as it was his intention to join the Navy. Nathan and Benjamin took to him immediately and they both enjoyed having this cool older brother of sorts who had his own computer and could play video games (which they are not allowed to do yet). And we learned a lot and tried to keep the delicate balance between trying not to "parent" a young man who was already grown up, but at the same time giving him the guidance, support, and unconditional love that he had not received elsewhere. Along with Chris, we also got his girlfriend Alyssa who spent every moment she was not working or sleeping at our house (which was fun having to think about things like curfews...). And then just to add to the volume level at the dinner table, we also had Chris's younger brother Tommy here more often than not. I fully grasped what the phrase Home Economics meant and why there are entire classes devoted to it when I saw our grocery bill triple the first month Chris was here. Not to mention the water, gas, and electric bill that hit totals I've never seen before thanks to the extra laundry, heating, and showering going on around here. Which are all good things!

It was a sad day when he finally left for eight weeks of boot camp. He's now in South Carolina where he's going through his specialized training program in Nuclear Engineering. During his boot camp graduation weekend, Alyssa flew out to see him and Chris bought a sparkly diamond ring and popped the question. Anxious not to have to spend time apart, they decided to apply for their marriage licence and get hitched sooner than later. So we've spent the last week booking flights and hotel for Alyssa and throwing together a bridal shower before sending her on her way.

And now to expedite their application to get Navy Base housing, they are tying the knot TODAY, all alone. It is bittersweet for us, because Michael is travelling and we can't be there. They'll come back in December to have the big ceremony and reception, but by then we'll be living in Macau. Overall we are so happy for them... we love Alyssa and we are excited that she is joining our family.

But we are sad, too, because we remember how much it meant to have our loved ones around us the day Michael and I vowed to stay together for life, and we are sad that they won't have that as they start their married life. And it's tough too because as a parent you just want every good thing for your kids... even the already grown up ones that join you later in life. But this is a lesson I am learning with my littlest ones... what might be a perfectly good thing for you, isn't necessarily what is best for them. And it is really important not to confuse the two.

Parenting. It is not for wimps.

Wedding photos to come later...

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