I got an email from my friend Julia this morning. Her daughter, Libby, age five, had just announced that she wanted to marry her infant sister, Stella. At least Libby is no longer looking to depose her mother as Stella’s parent. That had been the issue the last time we touched base.
You see, Libby loves her new sister that much. Almost makes me want to reconsider… Almost.
Julia explained to Libby that, as Stella was a blood relative, they could not legally marry. Not in this country, anyhow. Libby would have to find another, more socially appropriate way to profess her undying love for her sister. And consider other prospects for a life partner.
Libby decided that marrying a friend might be a good idea, with which her mother (who’s husband, I can attest, is her best friend), heartily agreed.
Well, of course, Libby picked my Sophie. (I say in my most Jewish-mother voice.)
I shared this news with Sophie on our way to nursery school.
“Libby’s mother told me that she wants to marry Stella.”
“She can’t do that!” cried Sophie, aghast. “Stella is too young. When Stella is a mommy, Libby will be a grandma!”
“They’re not THAT many years apart. Libby is about four years older than Stella. I’m that many years older than daddy.”
“Besides, that’s not the reason they can’t get married.”
“Why can’t they?”
“You aren’t supposed to marry your sister. It’s against the law.”
“Oh.” Sophie was taking this all in. Perhaps realizing that she had no sister with whom to fall in love and experience the disappointment of not being able to marry, fashioning it into a rationalization for why it’s a very good thing she’s an only child.
Or maybe that’s just my own twisted imagining.
“So you know who Libby decided to marry?” I said, dangling the information before her.
Sophie’s face bore a serious expression. She was considering this prospect. “Well, I’m going to have a whole bunch of girls marrying me, so she could be one of them.”
My daughter is planning on having a harem. Of women.
“Who else would you like to marry, Soph?”
“Leah. Lilly. Reid.”
“So you would marry a boy?”
“One boy. And Margo. We’d all be mommies together.”
“Except for Reid.”
“He would be the daddy.” The fantasy makes sense. After all, when they get together, what do they do but play at being parents—I frequently hear Sophie and her friends bossing their dolls around with glee. “Time to go to bed! No, you cannot have another cupcake! Yes, you have to wear those pants!” Parenting with greater limits, consistency and vehemence than I can possibly muster.
How do we decide who to marry? Chemistry? Security? Someone with whom to continue the various dynamics we established in our families of origin?
Imagine, marriage, not born out of sexual attraction, finances, and familial dramas, but friendship, pure enjoyment, and a vision of communal happiness.