Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sam's First Halloween - 1997

Since Sam was born on July 16th, he would have been 3 1/2 months old on his first Halloween. I have a wonderful picture of him sitting up at four months but as you can see from these pictures, he wasn't quite there yet. As a result, we went for comfort in his first Halloween costume. It was basically pjs with a little Winnie the Pooh hood.

Patience, however, at 1 year and 3 1/2 months, was able to pull off this remarkable princess look.

See what I mean about Sam & Patience always being close?

Sam's Grandma Bucklin, (Sandy to me) is holding Sam in this picture. She is a kind, loving, involved grandmother. Often, she sends cards to Sam and pictures of the happenings of his cousins in Iowa. Just this Halloween, she has sent two packages. One had a singing card, a singing pumpkin man and a glowing jack-o-lantern along with her traditional homemade popcorn balls and a bag of 100 Grand bars. The second package had a light for the inside of his pumpkin (we're hoping to get them carved today), more popcorn balls and some frosted sugar cookies (his favorite).

Around the time Sam was born, his dad and I went to see a debt counselor who explained to us that in our current situation, our expenses each month exceeded our income. When I was pregnant with Sam, I'd put him on the waiting list for a daycare near our home in West Des Moines. After he was born, I was eligible for seven weeks of paid time off. During that time, I felt like I almost never put him down. He liked to be held and I loved holding him. I didn't understand how the daycare could have a 4-1 child to staff ratio for babies. When I asked, they said, you can put a baby in his bouncy seat and read a book to him and he will listen. I thought to myself, but he hates his bouncy seat. I didn't want his little heart and spirit broken at eight weeks. What seemed like a good option before he was born, no longer seemed right now that he was here.

Enter my parents. They offered to co-sign a debt consolidation loan so we could slowly start to dig our way out of the hole being young and married during college had for left us. My mom offered to watch Sam while I was at work (talk about close from the start, you should see those two play). And they even offered to let us move into the second story of their home. I didn't want to move in with them. I was a mother now and wanted to feel like an adult who could take care of myself but apparently, at 25, I just wasn't able to make it happen.

Sam had his own room, his dad and I had a room, we had our own bathroom and a tiny area with a desk and couch in a loft above my parent's living room. We didn't have much privacy or autonomy as a new family but we were owning up to the reality of our financial situation. My parent's home was about an hour away from the jobs Sam's dad and I were working in Des Moines which made for a long day, especially since Sam wasn't sleeping through the night yet.

As grateful as we were for this support, it was a strained situation. When Sam was four months old, his dad came home from a football game he'd attended at the University of Iowa and said he wasn't happy. I wasn't sure I'd been happy for a long time but I didn't know what his point was exactly. We had a child now and had to figure out how to make it work, didn't we? We tried for awhile longer.

All of us lived together in this house in Newton, Iowa, home of Maytag, population 15,000 until Sam was 14 months old. Then his dad moved out. The Labor Day weekend after Sam's first birthday, we told my parents we had agreed to separate. We hoped that we'd both be happier apart. My parents were less than thrilled. Again, they likely saw the hard reality I would have ahead of me as a single mom but they didn't see the secret unhappiness I had been harboring for so long. While it was incredibly hard doing things on my own, I know Sam and I are better off and happier than we would have ever been if I had stayed in that relationship.

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