My proudest moment. We all have a lot of them don’t we? When our babies are born comes to mind as a big one. However I am a mom to five kiddos and one step kiddo so that is a lot of proud moments. When we graduate high school or college. When we buy our first home. When we buy that first new car right off the lot brand new. You are deep down a little proud of yourself. You’ve worked hard to get there. My proudest moment is a little different.
I had my first daughter when I was 17. Wait! What?!?! Yes. 17. My mom joked all the time when I was growing up that I always wanted to be older. I was always playing house and wearing her heals. I am not going to lie. I knew what I wanted VERY early. I knew I wanted the husband, and the house and the kids. I knew, (mainly because my mom worked ALL. THE. TIME. that I wanted to be an ‘at home mom’. This is not to bash my mom, because she is a great mom and she taught me to be a hard worker but I recall her working a lot. I understand as an adult her working a lot because I’m, (again), not going to lie, we had a pretty nice childhood. We had it made. My dad and mom are to this day still married. He was a police officer and my mom sold Cadillacs. We had nice clothes, our own rooms in a nice home, our own phone lines in our rooms, TV’s and yes, our own first cars bought to us by our parents. I think all three of us, my sister, brother and myself did a good job to know we had it easy and we didn’t let it go to our heads. We were also raised to volunteer, give to the needy, feed the homeless. We were made to see first hand that there are others not as fortunate and it was our job, (the job of those with more), to give and donate both their time and compassion. So you are probably wondering where this post is going.
A mom at 17. Married at 17. To a 27 year old. Wow right? I know. With a dad who was a cop right? Yeah I know. I am pretty sure *at first* my dad didn’t KNOW my first husbands true age. Any way long story short.. I stayed married to him for ten years. I gave it my all. I tried hard. He was a hard worker, I’ll give him that. He got up and went to work every single day. He grew up not having as much money as my family and his brothers and him grew up without their dad. One day out of no where, and I can’t even put my finger on what happened. Things turned. Went downhill and went downhill fast. He started drinking. A LOT. And when he was drunk he was MEAN. I knew from growing up and being taught self respect, that I deserved better. Self worth was taught well in our house. Although so was forgiveness and trying to help someone. So I went to counseling, begged him to go. He would do this cycle, I called it the alcoholic circle. He’d be nice, loving, distant, drink, drink, denial, drink, mean, hurtful, hateful, apologetic, helpful, kind, nice… and it would start all over. I got so tired of the routine. I could tell you when the stages would occur. I got tired of getting my babies up at two in the morning to go out and find him. I was probably 25 at the peak of it being the worst. I realized I was having WAY more bad marriage days than good. I realized my ‘babies’, (all three of them) were getting older and pretty soon it wasn’t going to seem as though we were just going to ‘pick up daddy at work because his car wasn’t working’. One night was my last straw. One night he called me at 2 in the morning that he needed me to come get him and I couldn’t do it anymore. He told me he was at C-470 and C-470. When I questioned him because he said the same highway twice, he screamed at me to know my place and not to question him. That was it. I knew I’d tried and I knew I was done. I told him I’d be right there and I hung up. I called his brother and informed him his brother was drunk and needed to be picked up. I told him to call him on his cell and figure it out because I wasn’t going. About an hour later I watched from the bedroom window a almost 40 year old man carry his younger brother into a house because he couldn’t even walk. This is not what I wanted for my kids. I didn’t want my son to learn he could treat a woman this way and I didn’t want my daughters to learn that this is how men act and treat you. My mind was made up. The bad days far out weighed the good and my kids were most important. I knew the next weekend his brother and him had a mountain biking competition in the mountains. I set up a uhal. I found a house. I moved out. He came home to a FAIR wife leaving him half of everything. The house was his grandmothers, and we bought it when she went into assisted living, I wasn’t about to be that wife and go for the house because I respect things being in the family. He could have the house I was drowning in my suffocating marriage. I was a childcare provider, (meeting my goal of being a stay at home mom for my kids but realistically making money to survive). I knew I made good money. I knew with a budget and a plan and not spending I’d be fine. I did awesome. There was one day however when my dad came up to me after dinner one night and we were outside on the patio. He put his arm around me and said, “I have to tell you something. When you left your husband, your mom and I thought for sure you’d be living in our basement. Not from not working but being that you have three kids. It is HARD to be a single parent, especially to three kids. I am really, really proud of you. You moved out at 17. Bought a car, bought a house, had three great kids, tried to make a marriage work, realized it wasn’t and instead of staying in a bad relationship, you stood up and did the right thing, for both you and the kids. You got a place, you finance well. You are doing a really good job and I am proud of you.”
I was proud. I made my dad proud, and he made me realize just how hard I had worked and it was pretty impressive.