For most of my life (24 years in fact), family was a relatively static entity, existing in its narrowest form with my mom, dad, and two younger brothers.
There was comfort in this, in the known contours of the five of us, in our defined roles and rhythms, even in our repeated fights and annoyances.
Things were simple, just the five of us. When we went somewhere, we could all fit in one car. We all came home for every holiday.
And then, in the span of three years, I gained two sisters-in-law, a niece, a nephew, a daughter, and a second family, consisting of a mother-in-law, a father-in-law and a brother-in law.
Family is no longer simple. Planning for the holidays involves weeks of e-mails, schedule juggling, and phone calls. A simple dinner out requires car seats, booster seats, and several vehicles.
We are still trying to figure it out, these new family rhythms, trying to learn what we are as a whole and how we fit together, piece by piece. It takes more work than it used to, this figuring out. It takes time. In some ways, we are still getting to know each other. We are family, but we are becoming friends.
There are times when I miss the long, leisurely, intimate conversations, just the five of us. I miss the simplicity, the knownness.
But I have also gained much in these new additions to my family.
I have gained another example of deep faith and of love and lifelong commitment. I have gained two more people who delight in blessing me and serving me.
I have gained a partner in keeping my husband humble and a worthy Settlers of Catan opponent.