25 years: Year 3, 95-96

They say the first two years are the honeymoon phase of a marriage. Year 3, the real work begins. Ha! They weren’t kidding.

The first Christmas without Tom was honestly a blur. Alec was extremely active. I believe that’s the year we were supposed to stay at Karen’s but went back to Macomb. Yeah, that first year…

We started struggling around 2 and a half years, in hindsight, it was partially because we chose to stay in Macomb the summer of 95. But we didn’t feel we could go home. Everyone had teenagers. John’s dad had just passed. Dad and Le’s house was pretty full. Plus, there was one more year of school for me.

Kids, here’s the next lesson, choices have consequences. We struggled. We really wanted to be independent. We managed to get housing assistance for the apartment though, and survived there until the next summer.

Our friends were still extremely important. They’d come to our place, or we’d go to theirs. Thanks to nearby family, we always had a sitter. If they couldn’t, someone from my work, an experienced mom with other kids, would watch him.

Our “go team” facade was starting to crack though. Money struggles have always brought out an ugly side in us. Basically, I set expectations (aka wants). He tries to make that happen financially. I flippantly ignore a rule. He gets pissed. I irrationally don’t understand why and cry hysterically. He gives up. The process repeats. It started back here, in 95-96.

His job had changed and wasn’t secure. I needed to bring in more than work study provided. We needed a fresh start.

A couple of friends had moved to Arizona, so that Memorial Day weekend we flew out for a visit. We knew this was the place, and set out to move to Phoenix. John could immediately get a job and I knew a principal at a middle school. What did we have to lose? (We really are great dreamers when we both believe.)

By the fall of 96 we moved back to Galesburg so that we didn’t have to pay rent, and more importantly food expenses. That fall I was going to student teach, so having family support was more important than ever. My grandma would even babysit. We were definitely blessed.

But first, Alec and I went to visit Nana and Papa in England. I mention that because 1, it was fun, and 2, I know it influenced my attitude the next few months.

During those few months, we learned that we just couldn’t survive in Galesburg. I’m pretty sure I morph into this weird version of “wanna be former cheerleader my poo doesn’t stink” me that existed in 1990. After two weeks with my mom, I’m sure I was pretty bad at that point. I still do it to an extent even now at 45.

It didn’t help that I spent most of my time doing school work. One time he said, “if this is how much time you’ll spend doing school work, you can’t be a teacher.” Seriously? It’s a little late now.

Then, to top it off, my one night off was for a bowling league with Les and her mom. Les was there a lot. And she had drama. That didn’t help any. But look how cute our goober kids were.

That’s my ownership in that year’s “crap.” He has his own parts.

It wasn’t all bad though.

Living with family was so helpful, yet so encroaching. We couldn’t have done it without them. Although no matter how much help we had, it seemed like they all got in the way. As I said, we just couldn’t take it. Moving day just couldn’t come fast enough.

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