Almost fourteen years ago, when Matt and I started our lives together, he worked at the mall. It was a good position in a sports store. Sometimes we think back to those days and wonder how we made it though.
Once we had our first son, things changed. Matt decided it was time to go back to college and start a career. We wanted more for our growing family.
It took a move from New York to Indiana to start us off. Matt worked nights at UPS and maintained a full school work load during the day. There were times in the summer when he also worked construction with my brother. I worked part time while my Mom babysat Chandler.
It was a crazy time for us. There was much debt accumulation. We paid for diapers with our credit cards. We lived in my Mom’s basement for a couple of years. But we kept going. Matt worked his butt off trying to make a better life for us.
Eventually, we were able to buy a house and start a somewhat more normal life for ourselves. We had two more babies. We continued to struggle financially. Matt worked the night shift for several years. We always made it though. We lived very simply for many, many years. I worked part time on and off but then finally stopped once I had all three boys on my hands. At that point, we lived even more simply. How? I have no idea. But we did it.
A few years later, Matt graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in mechanical engineering. From the time he started there until he graduated, he climbed up at UPS from night time box handler to a position in the engineering department. The money was better but we still struggled. There were debts to be paid and school loans looming overhead. But we kept going.
We moved here to Vermont about ten years later. Matt accepted a some-what temporary contract position on the base in the engineering department. He’s been there a couple of years. Thankfully, his contract had continued to be renewed throughout those two years.
Yesterday, Matt accepted a promotion for a permanent position as Deputy Engineer over the Civil Engineering Department on the base. This is the job he has been hoping and praying for. This is the kind of position that he dreamed of twelve years ago when we started this journey of bettering our lives. This is a huge promotion. A huge step forward in his career. This, for us, is HUGE.
We have struggled and scrimped and scraped by for all of these years. Having babies and living the best life we can all the while. As the years have gone on, things slowly got better for us. It took time and patience to get to where we are.
I wanted to share this part of our story to encourage those of you who are still in the very beginning stages of your journey. Maybe you just registered for college courses and are wondering how you will raise a family and earn your degree. Maybe you have graduated but now stare down the long road of paying off loans and finding that perfect job. Maybe you are still working at the mall and haven’t even taken the first step yet. Here’s what I want you to know:
IT IS WORTH IT.
Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep your expectations for yourself and your family high. Don’t give up! Find every program and scholarship you can. ASK FOR HELP. If we didn’t live with my Mom and Step-Dad for those couple of years, I don’t know what we would have done. Granted, not everyone has the luxury of that kind of situation, but make the best of your situation. Sacrifice. We gave up so much in those years. And now?
I’m sitting in my amazing kitchen staring at appliances that I have only dreamed of having.
I just talked to my husband on my iPhone. (Yes, this is a luxury to me!)
We have cable! Yes, this is the first time we have had cable in…well, I don’t even know how many years.
Our debts have dwindled.
We gave up so much to get to where we are. But hear me:
IT WAS WORTH IT!
We are not rich now or anything. Don’t get me wrong. Maybe my title is a little misleading. There will still be struggle ahead of us. We didn’t win the lottery. But, boy, I sure feel like we did.
Young families, keep hoping, keep dreaming, keep going. I promise you, one day it will all be worth it!