I was sitting in bed last night contemplating whether or not to turn the fan on in the room. And suddenly I realized how lucky I am. I am sitting there with a controller for the fan that sits above us. No I didn’t need to get up to press a button, or turn a switch on. I could sit in bed and have this controller do it for me. I got to thinking about how J and I started…
J and I lived in Scarborough, ON while I was pregnant with Apollo. J worked as a Reservations Manager, and I as customer service rep for U-Haul. I lost my job, for some petty stuff, and we had to make due with J bringing in the one income. We eventually moved in with his parents, to help with cost, just a few months before I was due to have Apollo. I remember J telling them I was pregnant. It was the most difficult thing in the world for him to do at the time. While I was twenty, and he was twenty-three, we weren’t financially stable. This was our fear for starting a family, as well as his parents’. We understood that. But this wasn’t a yes or no answer. This was a moment in both our lives we had to stand-up to our responsibilities and move forward from there. For those thinking ” You could have had an abortion.”, this was not an option for either of us. My beliefs are strong with life-changing situations such as this, and I wasn’t going to be selfish and run away.
When Apollo was born, J had taken parental leave to help me with the first few months of caring for a baby. After all, I had no clue what to do. I don’t have siblings, never did I have to take care of a baby alone. While my experiences in babysitting my little cousins, and baby nephews and nieces, it was a completely different experience to care for my own baby. Luckily J had a baby brother, who was sixteen years younger than him. He had gained experience in diaper changing, feeding, and changing clothes of a tiny baby. I, on the other hand, was too afraid to touch the baby. So him being home helped a lot. But this meant what he was earning was cut to almost half of what it was before. He didn’t earn much at U-Haul to begin with. When he returned to work, I had to be home alone with a newborn baby. This proved to be the most difficult thing in the world. But in moments as such, you find your way. You figure it out. You do what you can. Luckily his work moved closer to where we had moved and it was an easier commute for him.
It wasn’t easy sharing living space with his family. Personalities butt heads, and decision making was difficult for our little family, when you’ve got to be considerate of others. In times when we would fight, it would become embarrassing when we’re yelling at each other and trying to figure out our way together. When you first start a family, it’s not easy. You’re both learning to live together, both learning to do things together. You’re understanding responsibilities together and it puts strains on your relationship. We had to work on this, however way we had to, as long as we figured it out.
When Apollo was five months, we decided it was time for us to take charge of our lives, live through the choices we’ve made, and do our best to do things on our own. Well, we still required help from our families. It got really hard financially. J’s income for two weeks was the amount of what we had to pay for rent. We had gotten a car because we needed to get around and that added on to our costs per month. We had less than the bills we’ve accumulated. We were deep in waters, way above the waist. I had applied for a job at Tim Hortons, because I hadn’t gone to post-secondary studies to have a career. When would I have been able to find the time? That’s the mentality you have when you don’t know any better.Thankfully his uncle, and sometimes my Dad, would help babysit Apollo. This job helped a tiny bit with costs but it still wasn’t enough. Even worse, we had gotten into a car accident, had to get rid of the car, and now we’re down to one income again. J was injured and had to take leave from work. It was one unfortunate event after another. We had a couple floods occur during the few years we lived in that basement apartment. There wasn’t enough money to re-direct to various places. We were late on rent payments, struggled with all our other bills, and could barely afford the luxuries we took for granted when we were single. We ended up having to move back to his parents house again. One night, an infomercial on the television for post-secondary education had popped up while Apollo slept. We were sleeping in the living room on a blow-up bed, since J’s room had become a storage room shortly after we moved out. I thought about it in that moment, ” What would it take for me to upgrade my skills and provide a better life for our family?” I was set on going to school from that point on. Apollo was two and a half. I applied to Humber College and from there we had to move forward. We found an apartment north of where we were which would provide a closer distance from the school I would eventually attend. School was to begin in May and I had to figure out what I would do with Apollo while we were both gone. J had returned to work, and I was going to need someone to watch Apollo. My dad had offered; after a while it was no longer possible. Apollo would eventually turn four and he would require some type of social experience. We opted for child care. The good thing about being in Canada is you get some kind of help with child care fees. We were able to put Apollo in childcare without breaking our banks with the cost because most of the fees have been covered by child care assistance from the government. I felt at ease, knowing someone is watching Apollo while I was in school and J at work. But the feeling of being incapable of caring for my own child was always there. I had to do what I had to do. I worked really hard as a student, and in the end I attained Honours in Early Childhood Education. I graduated Honours.
After completing my post-secondary studies, I began working part-time, while J worked full-time still at U-haul. Things got complicated for us at that time, because as much we have finally accomplished one of our many goals, he was beginning to hate his job. Five years at U-Haul, it felt like forever. It felt like he wasn’t going anywhere with working there. He felt stuck. He felt unhappy. He didn’t feel like it was enough to provide for his family. We had gotten into a huge fight one night, most likely because his unhappy attitude effected his home life. I’ve had it with the fights and arguments. I needed him to get better. I needed him to be happy again. I needed him to be the J I know. He was lost, far in there, hoping to be saved. Well he’s not one to ask to be saved. I couldn’t save him. I had one thing left to help him. Being the paper-hoarder that I am. I loved keeping papers in boxes for no reason. I had kept his acceptance letters from colleges when he first graduated from high school. WELL before we had Apollo. In this file was a variety of different types of programs he applied for, not knowing exactly what he wanted to do. A few of his options were, Fashion Design, Electro-mechanical Engineering Technician, Business Administration, and a few other ones. Well, I wasn’t too fond of Fashion Design. I had no clue what Electro-mechanical Engineering was, and he’s already had a go at Business Administration and didn’t like it. So he had to choose. I gave him that night to figure it out. It was four in the morning, and he was concerned about what we were going to do for him to achieve this. Well, I had taken out a loan from the government to pay for my studies until I was finished. It was a debt, I was willing to take for the sake of achieving an education to better our lives. J had to do the same. We were about to venture into more hardships and sacrifices to achieve one more goal from our list. We had to move again, Apollo would be starting Jr. Kindergarten at a new school. We moved back around his parents and lived in a much better apartment with two bedrooms. It seemed big for our little family. I worked and J went to school. We were doing what we can with the income I had, and sometimes we still needed help.
J’s program ran for three years. The first two years happened so fast and just before fourth semester in his second year, we found out we were pregnant with a second baby. This was tough. It was about to get even harder financially. But the thought of being blessed with another child was everything for J and I. We were ecstatic. We knew that it was going to be difficult after she was born but we were going to do whatever it took, as we have always done in any difficult situations we found ourselves in.
J had a couple of semesters left to complete, before we could get our lives going accordingly. It was tough being home alone most of the time to tend to the kids. I’d have the responsibility of taking Apollo to school, and picking him up after school. I’d have to tow Artemis in a stroller with me, get home do some house chores. Sometimes I’d be too exhausted to keep up with the cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc., but I’d pick-up where I’ve left off and continue. Sometimes I wonder how J and I did it. How we managed all this time to do what we had to do for our family. I don’t guarantee that there were never fights or misunderstandings. There were plenty of that to go around. But just like in everything else in life, stress is rooted from the overwhelming loads of responsibilities. Then just before J was to finish his third year, we were granted another blessing, Cassiopeia. She came, just in time for the transition of all the new changes we were about to venture into. J finished school. Honours, at that. I am so proud of what he has accomplished thus far. He has worked hard in everything. The demands were a lot, even for any other persons, but he did his best at all turns. I am so proud to be his partner through this adventure. While it was all hard and we struggled through and through, we have completed our five year goal, from the time I decided to pursue post-secondary education, to J completing his program. We had achieved a house, and a career to be proud of.
Life isn’t easy. But if you try your best for any cause, I can guarantee you the outcome is that much sweeter. There is no good in giving up. You will fall time and time again, but if you get up, just get up, you’ll succeed in whichever way. Trust that you can, and believe that you will. It’s that important, to give yourself the chance. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again, you’ll always get an outcome. Good or bad, what have you got to lose?
“The starting point of any achievement is desire”