I often get told I look too young to have three teenage kids, one of which is in college.
I often feel a little outside the normal because many couples I meet are either starting to have children or have kids in their preteen years. So, this conversation usually leads into sharing how my then 18-year-old self was ready to drop everything and follow a Marine around the world.
Thinking back on that time, I was a little crazy I suppose. Hindsight is always 20/20 right? Though, even after all we’ve been through as a family, I wouldn’t change anything. Because it has helped us become who we are today.
And of course, I tell my kids that I wouldn’t want them to rush into anything so quickly as I did over 20 years ago.
Our love story began back in Oklahoma of all places. I threw my parents for a loop when I told them I wanted to join the National Guard my junior year of high school. I would come back to finish my senior year and graduate with a full ride scholarship to play basketball. However, I had to complete my AIT training the summer after graduation. Landing me in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
I was one of just a handful of females in my MOS. It had just opened up to women, and just my luck, the Army saw fit to have me fill that roll. Everyone was a little on edge and seemed to be an adjustment all around while implementing appropriate boundaries and safety for male and female soldiers.
The female soldiers stayed in more barrack-style rooms, which backed right alongside the units where some of the Marine NCO’s were living. It just so happened, my now husband, was staying in the barracks behind me. (I don’t think the Army thought this one through well enough…) My husband later told me that some of the drill sergeants were not thrilled about their presence alongside the soldiers, let alone the female soldiers, such as myself.
My husband had just gone back to active duty from his time in the reserves. He is 6 years older than me and had absolutely no intention of getting married. It was the furthest thing from his mind.
The Marines would ride the bus with us over to the schoolhouse. Our paths would cross often during the day and I found he was catching my eye more and more. But there were certain rules that prevented us from talking, besides the occasional hello. Over the course of about two months, privileges to leave the training area were given to us and we were allowed to go within the city limits of Lawton.
Knowing that Scott and I had this weird little eye game going one, I got up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to go to dinner. That was it and the time after that was a whirlwind. Soon, I would graduate AIT and head back to KS for college.
Somehow the subject of getting married came up. It was one of those conversations we didn’t take too seriously, but also didn’t realize how quickly it turned into more than just lighthearted chatter.
He had orders to Okinawa and I was already starting college. By this point, we were so head over heels for each other, we weren’t really thinking about anything else but how much we couldn’t live with out each other. The next thing I know, my friends and I were shopping for a wedding dress as our family and friends came together to help pull off a small, but special wedding.
We married September 5th, 1998, about 2 months after we met. He left for Okinawa a couple of weeks after we were married. I couldn’t stand the thought of being so far away from him. So I dropped out of college and moved to Okinawa. That was the beginning of our first 6-year tour overseas.
We brought two children into the world while in Okinawa. Since then we have been to California, Texas, back to Okinawa and now we’re in North Carolina.
As I look back over these past 20 years, I sometimes wonder how our lives would have been had we not chosen to go on this journey together. There were people who said we would never make it. And there were moments we thought we wouldn’t. Just like any love story, there are seasons of growth and opportunities to become better along the way. We are not the same two crazy lovebirds we were years ago. Our relationship has changed over the years, mostly for the better, and I would not have done it any other way.