Healthy relationships are not something we seem to teach kids. Schools, to me, seem to be trying through Character Education, anti-bullying campaigns, and so on. And I suppose my generation learned a little about it during health class, but otherwise, learning about healthy relationships was left to families, and often the church. I can’t speak for what John learned growing up, but I can for myself. My mom and Jim modeled how to have a loving, supportive relationship. Jim was level-headed and mom was the reactor. My dad and his different wives (sorry I’m lumping you ladies) had the same “man is level-headed and the woman is the reactor” composition.
When you struggle with anything, especially something emotional like relationships, you lean on what you have learned. My mom and Jim are what Alec would deem a little “extra” and honestly, no one can replicate that. My dad has been married 3 times. Sure, this last one has been longer than 25 years now, but still, I can remember the different girlfriends.
Yeah, I knew we were trying to find OUR way. Personally, I instinctually want to run when anything gets tough. I get too emotional and expect the man to be level-headed and clean up the mess. What John and I did though was sweep it under the rug and pretend it wasn’t happening. We just doubled-down on the kids and their stuff.
So, at the end of 2007, life was interesting. This is the year Mom and Jim brought Grandma to Texas for Christmas! That was a nice visit and I loved showing off that I could afford a home.
2008 was a busy year. First of all, Alec was in 8th grade. There were plays, ceremonies, graduations, and so on. He also worked as a ref for soccer. Eric was in 3rd grade and he had just received his first F on his report card. Dylan was in the 3-4-year-old class at a new school and no news was good news.
Eric was participating in the science fair, probably because he had to.
March of 2008, John and I went to Boston for a work related trip. I was going to the NSTA convention for work, and John could take vacation. I would go to the convention for a good chunk of the day, and then we would adventure through the rest of the day/night. We really are two headstrong people though. He’s just an Aries who always has to be in charge and right, and I’m fighting years of being told what to do. It made for some fun moments.
2008 is the year Alec and I threw a surprise party for John for his birthday. Sure, he was only 38 (not 40). But if I did it on a big year, he’d figure it out and tell me I couldn’t have the party. So, we surprised him. I really believe he was pleasantly surprised.
That spring, Alec decided he was going to lose his mind. He did normal 8th-grade things, just pushing his boundaries and limits. But the boy actually ended up grounded on his birthday.
When school got out, we took the kids to Sea World. By this point, Sea World had roller coasters and water parks included. We went for the day and just had a ball.
That summer, ALL of the kids went to IL. The boys had adventures. John and I had to learn how to be with just each other. Oh, boy, did we fight. And fight. And fight some more. Then it was time to go to his 20th high school reunion. (can you feel the tension building)
Once we were home, everyone wanted to see us. They’d had our kids for a couple of months now, and they were eager to see us. But we were focusing on the reunion (not my directive). Fortunately, we ignored him some and were able to get some fabulous family photos and visit with people. But let me tell you, I know during that visit I had many ugly moments. I told you I was becoming someone I wasn’t sure I liked.
Fall came and it was time for school to start again. Alec was starting high school. Dylan was starting pre-K. Eric was starting 4th grade. Everyone was playing soccer. Both John and I were involved with managing or coaching. Soccer was our life. By this point, we were on auto-pilot. We had a little more time before complete engine failure, but not long.