The Untraditional Life
I call it untraditional; some may have other words for it. My life is untraditional. I was born a “tomboy” and my mother hated it. She wanted a little “princess” that she could dress up and do girly things with, but that wasn’t me. I preferred playing in the mud, playing with my Matchbox or Hot Wheels, climbing trees, and sitting on the fender of our 77 Chevy Nova while my dad worked on it. I had a GI Joe Big Wheel and wore my Hulk shorts and tank top throughout the summer. Most of my friends were boys and it’s still that way. My husband and I share a lot of the same friends. Don’t get me wrong, I still had Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake toys, but I also had He-Man and Star Wars toys.
My parents split up when I was 7. I had been an only child with two bedrooms; one for sleeping in and the other to play in. However, after they split up, I had to share a room with a stranger, a 14-year-old boy. He’s not a stranger anymore of course, he’s my stepbrother and has been for nearly 35 years now. That action, my mother moving me in with people I didn’t know [even though she knew them], is the reason for my financial independence. I vowed never to depend on others financially, because even at 7, I was very aware that if I ever had children, I would never want them to feel like I did; lost, hurt, confused, and sad.
For my 16th birthday I received tools and a toolbox. I purchased my own car, so it’s not like my parents could surprise me with a car; not like they could afford it anyways. Yes, I was working full time by age 16. Not long after my 16th birthday, my stepdad and mom lost their jobs with the Detroit News. My mother started working with me at Burger King while my stepdad was picketing for $50 a day. The child support check that I was receiving from my dad was spent on groceries to feed the entire household despite me never being home to eat it. There was my stepdad, my mother, two stepbrothers (one 7 years older we’ll call him “C” and one 6 years older we’ll call him “D”), and D’s girlfriend [we’ll call her “R”] that stayed the night every night. One evening, my mother was writing out bills. I walked into the kitchen to see the stress on her face and I asked her what was wrong. She asked, “Do you like heat or electricity better”? I went to my bedroom, grabbed my checkbook and wrote a check for $100. I took it to the kitchen and said, “Here, I like both thanks.” So, from then on, I paid $100 a month in rent. It turned into $150 per month at age 18. C always told our parents to get the money from him for rent the moment he got home on a Friday; otherwise, he knew it would be gone by Monday and there wouldn’t be any rent money to give after that. He was at least honest about it and never really had a problem with paying rent; not really. On the other hand, D refused to pay rent even though his girlfriend was living there and stealing my clothes, razors, and other toiletries, because they were “saving up for a house.” They’re still married, but I haven’t spoken to them since December 10, 2008; when they tried picking a fight with me at MY grandmother’s funeral. C and I were always pretty close; maybe it was because we’d shared a room for a year, or maybe it was the mutual hatred of D and R. Who knows, but we always had more of a sibling bond than he and D had, even though we weren’t blood related.
I took auto shop in high school and during my junior year, I did a co-op job at Firestone, which meant I left school an hour early and went to work and it was part of my auto shop grade. My senior year, I worked at an auto parts store and often left shortly after getting to school, because my auto shop class was the first two hours of the day and the teacher liked getting a discount at the parts store.
Just after graduating high school, I went to school for aircraft maintenance and repair, which I paid for myself. At 18, I was paying for my own transportation [including insurance, gas and repairs], my own cell phone, my own land line, rent, I had my own health insurance, and I was paying for school. Other than a cell phone, health insurance, and school, I had already been paying for the other stuff since the age of 16.
Fast forward to age 21, I met my first husband while working as an assistant manager at an auto shop; he came in for tires and an oil change on his Lincoln Mark VIII. We started dating November 2000, living together in an apartment in April 2001 and engaged in May 2001. We were married August 2002 and our daughter was born June 2003. I learned what kind of man he was(n’t) during my pregnancy. I was still working full time up until May 2003 at a Ford facility in Dearborn and it was when I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions, my supervisor told me that I had to go on maternity leave. A couple weeks later, before my daughter was born, that supervisor called me and asked if I’d had the baby yet and when I said no, he asked if I wanted to meet up with him and the other supervisors for lunch. I met up with them at the shop and they had planned a surprise baby shower [of sorts... it was a group of men, so it wasn’t traditional] with a party sub, cake and a card... The card had over $100 in it. I cried. My immediate supervisor walked me out to my car and gave me the gift that he and his wife bought; it was a cute little black and white checkered dress and a stuffed animal; a pink bunny that my now 17 year old daughter still has sitting on her dresser.
While I was pregnant with my daughter, I had chronic sinus infections, daily sciatica, nose bleeds, vomiting for 7 months [all day, every day], kidney stones, and in January 2003, I slipped and fell on our porch leaving for work one morning because my now ex-husband decided not to shovel the whole porch, but just a small walk way, which became extremely icy. He didn’t take me to the doctor’s to be checked out... HIS mother did right when the doctor’s office opened. I was having contractions, but they were able to stop them while I was in the office. When I had kidney stones, I was awoken with sharp pains in my back at about 4 am; he wouldn’t wake up, but HIS mother came right over and rubbed my back and ran me a warm bath. At least that time, he took me to the doctor’s when they opened.
About 8 months after our daughter was born, I had to have surgery on my right hand to fix a ligament and tendon. I had to rent a car because my Jeep was a manual trans, the Lincoln was gone, and he wouldn’t trade Jeeps with me [he had trouble driving a manual] while I had a cast and sling following surgery. When I went to get our daughter something to eat [two days after surgery], I told him that we needed to go to the grocery store, because we had no baby food left. To tide her over, I cut up some fruit. He told me he was busy. He was watching reruns of Star Trek. I reiterated that we were out of baby food; he screamed obscenities at me. So... I left and went to the grocery store alone. I proceeded to spend about $600. The 14-year-old bagger loaded the car for me. When I returned, he started screaming at me about how much I spent and I told him that if he’d have gone with me, maybe he could’ve curbed the spending. That’s just one of MANY rotten stories about him. I won’t get into any more of them here. Let’s just say that right after our 5th wedding anniversary, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, I packed my stuff and left him while he was at work. His sister saw me packing the truck our neighbor let me borrow [she and her husband lived just down the street from us], she called me and said, “Please don’t be there when he gets home. I understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, but please don’t be there.” She knew he could be violent and even though I’d managed to get out of that relationship without once being physically abused, I knew it was possible that he would swing at me if I’d have been there when he got home. Our daughter was with my mom and stepdad; I was very careful with how I went about everything. That was September 2, 2007.
By late September 2007, my ex and I had gone through court-mandated therapy where he finally realized that our relationship was very toxic. I filed for divorce early October 2007. On October 21, 2007 I had a housewarming party, it was kind of a celebration of filing for divorce too I suppose. A lot of old friends came and a few newer friends from work showed up too; one of which is now my husband [Dave]. While nothing happened between us that night, he ended up staying the night because he’d had too much to drink and I don’t allow friends to drink and drive. November 3, 2007 a friend of mine [Al] had a Halloween party. I asked Dave if he wanted to go to the party with me, because he was friends with Al too. Quick note, I had a physical relationship with Al, but it was not a serious thing and neither of us expected any emotional connection. Yes, my husband knows about it; I’ve never lied to my husband. I drank WAY too much; I was NOT driving. Dave had brought me home and we just sat and talked at my kitchen table. I told him that I needed to go to bed; he helped me up the stairs and into bed [I was already wearing pjs]. He decided to kiss me, and I asked for a bucket. He met me with that bucket on the middle landing on my staircase where he held my hair while I puked. November 7, 2007, we played hooky from work and got a hotel room. After a blissful day of naughty time, I found out that he was engaged. I was hurt and angry. I had told him the truth about everything. Apparently, Dave had told his fiancé that night of his affair with me. He called to tell me that she wanted to try and work through it. I sobbed and called my friend Jeff [the one that later married us]. He said, “If it’s meant to be, he’ll be back.” A few weeks later, his fiancé moved back to her house and called off the wedding. December 2, 2007, my “monthly visitor” was a day late and Dave said, “Well, a day late can happen, right”? I told him that the last time I was a day late, he knew her as my daughter; I was pregnant with our son. Yes, it was a stressful time and it made for a very interesting discussion with my now ex, but he was surprisingly understanding. Although, he’d already found a girlfriend too. I told him that he had to get the paperwork showing his vasectomy took before we went in front of the judge or they wouldn’t allow our divorce until after I gave birth and the state did a blood test. He obliged. My ex was even at the baby shower and wasn’t legally my ex just yet... yes, it was very “hillbilly” of us. My husband and my boyfriend [the father of my child] hung out and had some beers together. It’s okay, you can laugh.
Our son was born on July 31, 2008. December 6, 2008, my grandmother passed away and left me her wedding / engagement rings. While me and my family were making arrangements and cleaning up her condo, I asked them what they thought about Dave and I getting married on my grandparent’s wedding anniversary, which was January 10. They all thought it was an awesome idea. So, when I got home, I grabbed my dad’s former wedding band [from when he and my mother were married], put it in my pocket, and when Dave gave me a kiss goodnight, I said, “Hey. I have a question for you.” “Will you marry me”? He asked, “Are you sure? You were technically just divorced 6 months ago.” When I assured him that I was very sure, he said, “Where’s my ring”? I know him way too well... I pulled out the wedding band, and he laughed... it actually fit. Then he said, “Aren’t you supposed to be on your knees”? I told him that I was too short for that shit. He asked me if I had a specific date in mind and when I told him January 10, he assumed January 2010. I said, “No. I mean next month.” His jaw hit the floor and I explained that my friend, Jeff is an ordained non-denominational minister and that we can get married in our house.
January 10, 2009, Jeff married us in our living room with immediate family and closest friends; he charged us a 6 pack of Guinness and a piece of cake for the service. We wore jeans, Harley t-shirts, and slippers. We celebrated my 30th birthday at the same time since our anniversary is only 4 days before my birthday. We had a blizzard that day and our friends plowed our alley [our driveway is off the alley] and sidewalks and shoveled all the walkways for our wedding present. To me, having my grandmother's wedding set means so much more to me than a new ring and having a small intimate gathering in our home for our marriage on their anniversary made it even more special. It's the union and sentimental value and reasons that are special. It's not about the party for me. The wedding is just a big party lasting one night.
A few weeks later, I began planning our honeymoon; it was a surprise to my husband. Considering he and I worked together, and I did payroll, I was able to reserve vacation days for the two of us. I had also arranged for my mother-in-law to watch our son, my former mother-in-law to come take care of the pets and give us rides to and from the airport, my daughter was supposed to be at her dad’s during that time anyways, and three weeks before we left for our honeymoon in May, I had our bags packed and ready to go; including carry ons that had one change of clothes and swim suits in case our luggage was lost. Two weeks before we were supposed to leave [he still didn’t know], there was a power outage at work or something and he said, “Cool, you can go change your name on your license.” When I told him that I couldn’t [I had already booked everything in my maiden name], he started getting upset with me. He wouldn’t let it go, so I threw the itinerary at him and he was looking at it and said, “What, are you going on a work trip or something”? I said, “No ding dong! Look at the names at the bottom!” He asked, “What is this? Where is St. Croix”? I said, “It’s in the Caribbean and it’s our honeymoon ya ass!” He looked at the date and started freaking out a little. He asked, “What about sitters and someone to take care of the pets and I didn’t put in for vacation time....” I said, “It’s all handled. You’re even packed. All you have to do is get in Janet’s Jeep on May 12 and get on a plane with me.” He got choked up and hugged me. He said, “No one has ever done anything like this for me. I’ve never been to anyplace like this.” I simply said, “Me neither.” We had a fantastic time.
As of January 10, 2021, we’ll be married 12 years. There were about 3 years of our relationship that he ended up being a stay at home dad. I’ve always made more money than him and that doesn’t matter to either of us. Some people have that 50s mentality though and make snide comments to both of us. Just because we’re untraditional, doesn’t mean that we’re unhappy. Why people have an issue with how our relationship or household is, I have yet to understand it. It doesn’t affect anyone else. I love our untraditional household. I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you made it all the way through, thanks for reading!!! Didn't realize how long it was!