I was a teenager when I noticed the majority of my relationships in my surroundings were unwed parents in tumultuous relationships that didn’t display affection, respect, growth or real partnership. The mothers were typically the primary custodial parent, struggled financially, while raising multiple children on a single income. The fathers were in and out of the apartment; at best they were one-third contributors and showing face long enough to get their offspring excited before he’s off again carrying no responsibility. The children practically fended for themselves, which generally resulted in all types of abuse, poor grades and low self-esteem. I wondered how my life going to be different.
In 1997, I met a person who would become my last best friend. We were sincere friends with no sparks between us. We enjoyed each other’s company on a friendship level and shared stories about our upbringing. We had a lot in common and guaranteed that we would not repeat the actions of those before us. Maybe sharing conversations about the lives that we didn’t want unconsciously drew us together, which resulted in a courtship. We dated for a year and discussed how we wouldn’t become ‘products of our environment’.
Then it happened – we became pregnant at 21-years-old. At this point we thought what now? If we brought a life into this world of unwed parents then we are surely continuing the cycle. So we thought, let’s just get married and figure out the rest later. I was five months pregnant wearing a plum colored business pants suit and he was wearing a sweater vest with khaki pants. We arrived to the courthouse and the judge said to us, “You two look like you’re going to a barbecue”. We were not dressed for the occasion, didn’t have rings to exchange and didn’t tell our families that we were married until 22 days later during Thanksgiving dinner. Understandably to most this appeared to be a shotgun marriage, but to us, it was the beginning of a new world.
In our ten years of marriage, we were living a life we never envisioned, yet the complete opposite of what we grew up in. Working together, we created a conformed lifestyle for us and our three sons. We did it – we made it – we beat the odds, I thought. Then another thought came to me, ‘Did I marry to play it safe’? I mean, I loved my husband, but if I didn’t get pregnant or if I grew up like Denise Huxtable, would I have married so young, had children, and would I have married him? These questions continued to surface and made me wonder whose life was I living? I literally looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the reflected image. Furthermore, I couldn’t remember how I became Clair Huxtable.
Did I marry to play it safe?