Just one of the family

When I was a kid, I had two favorite books: “Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit!” and “Just One of the Family.” I read the latter to my third grade class because no one seemed to have heard of it, and I knew this treasure had to be shared. The story followed an elderly farm couple who wanted to go on vacation, but couldn’t leave without their beloved farm animals, including a cow, horse, goat and rooster. After all, they were “just one of the family.” No matter how strange it looked to restaurateurs, hotel owners and various passersby, this ragtag bunch was a family.

I performed an extensive eight-minute search for the cover of the book to show on here, but I couldn’t locate it. Apparently, it wasn’t very well-known. But it left an impression on me. As an adult, I’m realizing how true that book was and how relevant it still is in my life.

We all know some in-law horror stories. Even if we’re lucky enough not to have seen or experienced them in person, we’ve seen the movies (Meet the Parents, The In-Laws, etc.). Oftentimes, the movies make these tense situations funnier than they are to real people in real life enduring the real situations. Like “Just One of the Family,” individuals who are different in almost every way are suddenly bound together (ideally) for life. (Isn’t getting married weird like that? It’s like, “Here are some people who, up until recently in your life, you’ve never met. Time to be a family!”)

When I started dating in my senior year of high school, my mom (and my first serious dating experience) taught me an important lesson: When you’re looking for someone to marry, you don’t just marry that person; you marry that person’s family.

How. True.

I reasoned that, simultaneously, my future husband would also be marrying my family. With some guys, that wasn’t a problem. With some guys, it definitely was. Some people just don’t mesh. Dating is like the Petri dish of that truth. Sometimes, you get a nearly clean dish with minuscule green spots. Other times, a black, moldy substance consumes the bottom and the sides.

Last weekend, I got to have a girls’ night out with my mom, Cory’s mom and Cory’s sister. At the risk of sounding like I’m sucking up to my future in-laws, I’ll say that our Petri dish looks clean as a whistle. (I know they often read my blog, and I know they’ll see this and know I’m being truthful.) Cory’s immediate and extended family have all been sweet and welcoming to me throughout our relationship, and I’m especially looking forward to adding two more sweet little boys to my two nieces and nephew. There’s often a negative connotation with the phrase “in-law,” but I know that’s not so for a lot of people, myself soon to officially be included.

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From left to right: Cory’s mom, Renee; my mom, Cindy; me; and Cory’s sister, Emily, at the Tim Hawkins stand-up show in Paducah, Ky. I don’t know the man behind us, but he was quite friendly.

*As a side note, I always liked the line in Disney’s Robin Hood “an outlaw for an in-law.” I never got the joke as a kid, but now I think it’s hilarious, and (almost) wish I could say it.*

I can’t express how refreshing it is to feel love and camaraderie between both families. It feels great to know that my parents are welcoming Cory as a son just as Cory’s parents are welcoming me as a daughter, and that no preexisting animosity or hard feelings exist. Not everyone comes into a marriage like that, so I know I’m lucky. Both sets of parents have prayed for years that Cory and I would find the right person for us, and I think I can speak for Cory too when I say that we’ve felt our parents’ joy because they have treated us individually and together as an answer to their prayers.

A lifetime is a long time to be with someone. There may be some bruised feelings or wounded prides on both sides over the years, but I pray that it’s never anything that we can’t get past. We’re different people with different backgrounds and different perspectives, but we’re all uniting in this marriage between Cory and me. I can honestly say that it’s a blessing to become “just one of the family.”

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