I am, what you would call, an oddity. I have two older sisters, but I am both of my parents’ second child. Also, I’m the first child that either of them had while actually married. Mom calls me her little legitimate baby. Dad says to stop it because it’ll give the others a complex. Not that it really matters. Mom’s kid, Rachel, was twenty three when I was born. Dad’s kid, April, was seventeen. They were both there when I was born, and from what I’ve been told, they were both thrilled to have met me.
What isn’t surprising is that both of my parents were married once before they married each other and had me. What is surprising is that neither of those kids were results of those marriages. My mom did marry Rachel’s dad, but it wasn’t until Rachel was already twenty years old and off in college. Their marriage came within a year of Mom and Dad calling off their first engagement, and lasted less than a year. While mom likes to insist that she doesn’t believe in regrets when you’re happy where you are, I can tell that she is not proud of that marriage. This is a woman who ran away from home more than once, had her first daughter at age seventeen, and more than once has ended up hurting people that she loved, and I think that her first marriage is what she feels the least proud of.
Dad’s first marriage was even shorter, and he’s flat out told me that he regrets that one, as impromptu and ill-prepared as it was. He went on a cruise with his then girlfriend, and came back married. He wasn’t back for more than a week before he was planning his divorce. Their marriage stuck together a little bit longer than he anticipated (a couple of months) until he found out he was being cheated on, and the marriage came to a swift and complete end. My father is a very tolerant man, in spite of his grumbly exterior, but he will not put up with broken promises—the wedding vows being one of the biggest promises of all.
My parents had a bit of an on again off again relationship for several years before they got married which, according to Miss Nancy down the road, followed a near decade of “will they or won’t they” bets all around town. Miss Nancy told me once that the whole town was holding its breath, waiting for something to go wrong and prevent their happiness. When they finally headed off on their honeymoon, the town was electric with joy. Exactly thirteen months later, to the day, I was born. The town lost their minds when I was born. By the time they brought me home from the hospital, neighbors and friends had left three cribs, six strollers, twenty-seven pairs of hand knitted baby booties, more than a dozen dozen baby bottles and enough diapers to last me almost all the way to my first birthday, which I promise you is only slightly an exaggeration. I think I was the best cared for baby that’s ever been.