At one time, I thought the high school years were my enchanted years. Everyone was young, beautiful, ambitious, trying to figure out who they were, what they wanted to become and having fun. Life was a social activity to everyone whether you were popular or not. It didn’t matter who you hung out with. Whomever you called friend, you had fun with them. We were both child and young adult. Some of us acted more like the adult and some like the child. We were inspired, curious and falling in love for the first time. For some, the party continued through college and for others like myself, the real world became our university.
I chose to get married at a young age. I thought it would be magical and at least I didn’t have to worry about ever being alone. I knew I could make a marriage work. I had always been a romantic at heart. My future husband was a little pessimistic about it lasting. How could a marriage possibly work when you’re so young? You haven’t even fully matured into an adult yet. Still, I was stubborn and knew I would never give up the fight when it came to love and marriage.
The first few years were a time of disillusionment. My happy, cheerful big hair 80’s neon world turned into the grungy, flannel infested black and grey world of the 90’s and my perfect Prince Charming for a husband turned out to be entirely human and not perfect. I found out that I wasn’t perfect either but the love was still there even during the power struggle. There were times when I didn’t think we would be able to make it work after all and then something magical happened. Our feelings changed when we found out we would be turning our coupledom into a family. All of a sudden, though life was still relatively fun, we had someone other than ourselves to think about.
Throughout the 90’s and into the new millennium, we both did our best to learn and grow while dealing with job losses, depression, being broke all the time and having another mouth to feed turning our family of three into four. The responsibility of raising children, working at jobs that neither one of us loved to pay bills that we hated but were a necessity, took away some of the early magic of being a couple who at one time thought they would live a life filled with adventures galore into the reality of what life was really like. Luckily, we had a really great group of friends who helped to make the difficulties a little less difficult and a lot more interesting to say the least.
However, I have found that my enchanted years really are my adult years. I’ve had the chance to live two lives filled with wonderment. The one of my youth and the one of my children’s youth. Once you have a child either you turn it into a burden in which case you never should have had children, or you turn it into a world of joy and imagination. My husband and I did our best to make sure our children had a childhood filled with love, laughter, the wonder of the outdoors, the magic of Halloween, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Marriage is hard work, raising well-adjusted, intelligent, caring children is hard work. Choosing survival in a world where so many people give up is hard work yet we’ve managed to do this as well. When my children were younger, my life was about seeing the world through their innocent eyes and protecting them from the harshness and ugly reality that could be found in the outside world. Now that they’re teenagers, it’s not as easy to protect them. They have their own view on the world around them and I know that my role in their lives now is not so much the protector as it is the teacher and the voice of reason trying to keep them on the right path. So far, I think I’m managing pretty well. Giving them the freedom to make their own decisions is tough but I know when it’s time for them to go out on their own, they will have the lessons that both my husband and I taught them and they will be fine. My husband and I are both fighters who don’t give up even when it seems like everything is stacked against us. It builds character and makes us stronger.