For Better AND for Worse; Marriage and Parenthood
One of my favorite movies of all time is Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz. Most people I know have never even seen it, or if they have, they didn’t “get it.” But for me, it’s one of those rare beautiful movies that helps me appreciate life more every time I watch it. My favorite quote from Vanilla Sky is said by Jason Lee, who plays Brian Shelby:
“You can do whatever you want with your life, but one day you’ll know what love truly is. It’s the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet.”
Life is not typically so permanently polarized one way or the other. There are good days and bad days. There are days when by default it’s easier to focus on the negative, which coincidentally are the times I realize my thoughts are very self-centered. And of course there are days when by default it’s easier to focus on the positive, which unsurprisingly are often the times I realize my thoughts are focused outwardly- towards others and the world outside of my head. On top of how negatively or positively or inwardly or outwardly each day is going, there are additionally daily circumstantial events which often direct how life will be that particular day.
So for me, the phrase “for better or for worse” in our traditional marriage ceremonies misses the mark a bit. Because the reality of marriage is that there are “better days,” “worse days,” and all of what’s in between. ”For better or for worse” almost implies that life will either turn out one way or the other. Sure, there are extreme better or worse ways life could turn out, but likely, life will be filled with both better and worse times- not either/or.
But whereas whom we marry is completely our own choice (at least in America it is), my son didn’t choose to be born into this world. Ultimately, my wife and I had a major part in making that decision. I am Jack’s father, for better and for worse. There will be a lot of things I do right in parenting him. And there will be plenty of times, when despite my best efforts, I fall short or even fail completely.
It helps knowing that even my best will be nowhere near perfect and that even my worst will be nowhere near tragic. I am a dad, for better and for worse. For sweet and for sour.