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Who we were and who we are….
Long, long ago we were young and in love – Now we are old and in love.
We had a traditional wedding. It was a hot and sunny June day in 1996. Family and friends were gathering; the photographer was clicking away; and my brand new wedding shoes (never out of the box) came out in three pieces. That’s right- my two shoes, were in three pieces; with the heel disconnected from the right shoe. After a moment of panic (I mean really, it is an hour before the wedding, I am supposed to be getting pictures taken, this is “the moment”, and my shoe is broken), I do what all 23 year old brides would do – hand the shoe off to my uncle because “he can fix anything”. Sure enough, within minutes my shoe was reassembled courtesy of a hammer/nail he just happened to have in his car.
While this is going on, one of the groomsmen realizes he came to the church with his tuxedo (thank goodness), but without the buttons/cufflinks. To our knowledge there were no speeding tickets caused by the return trip to pick them up.
The ceremony went off without a hitch. Both sets of grandparents were recognized for celebrating 50th anniversaries that same year.
AND the wedding party decorated out car for us…..this was very thoughtfully done with hearts and initials. Little did they know it would be a lasting memento as the shaving cream baked into the hood of the car. For the next three years we drove around with this shadow on the car hood that resembled an abstract heart along with D + T. Now our wedding party was just that thoughtful!
There was no limo, no pre-reception party. We didn’t choose to focus our money on those items, at the time it felt like we made those choices because we didn’t have the money; but, now it seems as maybe it was a precursor to how we would make future choices. There was a simple dinner reception and dancing. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t indulgent, and it wasn’t expensive. It WAS fun, and perfect for us.
Fast forward twenty-four hours and we begin the journey to an amazing honeymoon in Walt Disney World. I mention the location specifically because it made such an impression that we have been back 5 times (and counting). One week of this place and we were hooked. They truly embrace customer service and making dreams come true. It was, and is, magical for us.
Now, a week later, the honeymoon is over. We are back in the real world, all “grown up”. I was an ER nurse in a level I trauma center- I have seen A LOT of things. He was a highway Patrolman for the MSHP. Both high stress jobs, lots of adrenaline, and lots of hours. There were weeks that we didn’t see each other – no lie.
Back then this was no problem. We both were working to be great at our jobs, we were making money, and we were busy. But, really there were weeks we never saw each other. You see why there were just two of us right? After a couple years, this was wearing on us – we wanted more….a house…a baby. Or, maybe we wanted these things because everyone else had them.
We tried for a baby – it happened quickly….the excitement was amazing. AND then, the unthinkable, we miscarried. I was devastated – for a long time. A family member told me it was my fault, that didn’t help. MrTB4M didn’t understand, and in his own way he was MAD.
But, the house – that worked out. We bought a house in April 1998. Wait……we are STILL in the same house. This is almost unheard of. We are choosing to stay in our simple 1000 square foot house that we bought “used” 20 years ago.
We have made a few changes and made the house our own. Most notably, we have added 8 additions. That’s right….8 additions; and if you caught the fact I said 1000 square foot house then you know I am not talking about housing additions.
You see, late in 1998 we were beginning to see each other more, shifts changed, the house was ours (and the banks), and we were pregnant. This time all went well – if you don’t count the high blood pressure at 36 weeks, and the 21 hours of induced labor. But, I mean we ended up with a healthy baby boy in 1999 – so overall it all went well.
J1 was an easy baby. He was content and happy. He made us smile. He loved Cheerios and macaroni and cheese. He loved naps – and to this day can still fall asleep just about anywhere and anytime. He LOVED being outside. We were spoiled. We enjoyed him so much we would keep him up at night with us on our weird schedules (Who does that?!).
When J1 was 13 months old, he became a big brother. Our family grew as we brought J2 home. Now, notice I said J1 was easy……..J2 was many things – easy was not one of them. J2 was cute, he was funny, AND he was CRABBY. My shifts at the hospital seemed like forever to daddy. He outgrew the crabbiness around 6 months – and hasn’t backtracked. To this day he is the most laid-back kid, nothing ruffles his feathers, and he can roll with anything thrown at him. That being said he is still our risk taker……his mind is always working (unfortunately he sometimes acts before analyzing the idea – hence the broken nose from jumping on the bed, the burnt area of the back lawn (it grew back beautifully), and the “grape hole” in my bedroom window (which is still there).
So now in 2000 we have our house, 2 wonderful boys, and two full time jobs. He is still working Highway Patrol and I am still an ER nurse. We are both working overtime every chance we get. Kids are in daycare a few days a week and on others we are paying grandparents to watch them. It was a crazy cycle and we were managing it – we were just like everyone else.
In 2003 we were expecting our third child when I was put on pseudo bedrest at 35 weeks. The doctor thought just maybe I was beginning early labor and recommended I not work (but conceded with two small children at home total bedrest was unrealistic). So, I was home for 5 weeks before J3 was born. That’s right, 5 weeks, he ironically was 2 days past due when he was born. In those five weeks there was a glimpse at something we had not had……the family at home together, a simplified schedule as we were no longer passing in the doorway or juggling who would pick up the kids.
Now maternity leave was dramatically shortened by my pre-leave and I went back to work at the 6-week mark. After all, I had a career. So now we are back to the cycle of daycare and grandparents, and overtime, and barely seeing each other and we are paying the bills…..and paying the bills….and nothing to show for it. We were not happy, we were frustrated with each other, with the system, and sometimes with our lives in general. We knew things needed to change and yet we couldn’t put our finger on it. Of course, that meant we did what we knew, and continued the chaos. For several more years. In fact one of our most significant turns of events occurred in 2005, we were adding baby #4 to the mix and out of nowhere a job offer came for MrTB4M. In a matter of 1 month he interviewed for and accepted a job and resigned from the Highway Patrol. I will admit, it was a sad day that the police car left the driveway for the last time – a part of MrTB4M left that day too (and that part is still missed on many occasions). What we knew then was that his odds of safely returning after work had greatly increased at that moment and his paycheck would be a lot nicer.
Now we are scrambling – a new baby on the way and a new job and routine to get used to. So together we think why not mix it up some more – I dropped my hours to part time and switched to night shift. I mean really, after being up with a newborn working a night-shift can’t be all that bad, right? Remember I mentioned I had seen a lot of things……well many more of those things were seen on night shift.
So, this was our new crazy. He worked during the day and two nights a week I worked all night. We cut out daycare because that would save money and I would be home during the day anyway – and who needs sleep? And so we continue….working, paying bills, saving a little. Yet, we were still looking for something (and had no idea what). The boys had been in school for a few years, J1 was getting ready to start 4th grade; J2 3rd; and J3 pre-school or “lucky ducks”. We had that going for us – schedules to follow, conferences to attend, performances to watch, homework to finish, supplies to buy, fundraisers to participate in, uniforms to wash – what could be wrong with that? But, we weren’t happy, little things just didn’t “feel right” and left us irritated; the boys weren’t interested in learning.
We began thinking of how we could fix this – there were different schools (and they each had their good points); there were public schools and school districts we could move to (again good points for some of these); there was homeschooling. Wait! Did I just say that, homeschooling? WHO does that? I mean our kids aren’t weird, they don’t look funny, they know how to talk to people. For goodness sake, in a crowd of people they would blend in.
OK, so those really weren’t our thoughts – we knew people that home-schooled and above all else their children were happy and comfortable with themselves and had an amazing interest in learning. But, those were the thoughts that were verbalized to us any time we mentioned it to other people (even our own family). However, we weren’t completely turned off by their comments. With four children we had already fallen off of the “normal” family spectrum and this could be just one more caveat. Of course, we knew we had to convince people it was OK (and even ourselves a little bit) and so we had conversations about saving money, safety, more personalized education, and opportunity. This was growing on us. Enrollment came and went – our kids were not registered. It was a done deal.
Books are ordered, lessons are planned, school starts…………….and we HATED it. The kids hated it, I hated it, and MrTB4M was emphatic that we made the wrong decision. So, as all “good” wives do, I was determined it would work and I dug my feet in (and cried in the shower and stomped my feet too) and about 3 months in we all got into a groove. It was working and no one was arguing. The difference in our family was amazing. This was our new normal.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton