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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Time to go

You're not a dream,You're not an angel,You're a man

I'm not a queen,I'm a woman,Take my hand

We'll make a space In the lives That we'd planned

And here you'll stay Until it's time,For you to go

Recorded by Roberta Flack

I promised you the story of how I became a single parent. In the last entry, We’re Moving Where? You heard how I got to be a Georgia resident. In retrospect, I can see the patterns so clearly, but at the time, I was relying too heavily on experience and good common sense. Clearly I was out-matched.

My husband thrived on attention – a pretty common trait West Indian men. The engagement was exciting, the wedding was exciting, the move was exciting…well it had been a year and it was time for more excitement. “I’m going to start looking for houses” he exclaimed. Do you really think we are financially ready for a house? Let’s sit down and look at our budget. We were getting more living space than in New York, but we also had a pretty hefty childcare bill. We sat down, listed all of our expenses and had about $200 every month that wasn’t spoken for. In my mind, we were not ready for a house. The mortgage is one thing, but house maintenance is an additional cost that we didn’t have in the apartment.

Well that didn’t move my accountant husband. It was almost as if he had this serious timetable and we had to click these things off of his list before he turned 30. I was hoping good sense would kick in…he is an accountant after all. Plus we didn’t have any money saved for a down payment so I didn’t worry about it. A few months after that very sobering conversation, he declares that he’d found a house and that our 1 year old son was enamored with dad’s selection. If this was a television show, this would be the time I would look directly into the camera.

With some finagling and borrowing, we moved in. Our understanding as a young couple was that he was responsible for the housing. I would cover the child care, food and utilities. I still had student loans to pay so we were pretty even on the bills. We were rolling right along until we weren’t. December 1991 we received a note from the bank that the house was subject to foreclosure if the past payments were not made by the end of the month. Foreclosure? This is the first I am hearing about this. My first idea was to be compassionate. We had two little boys to care for, so we have to have someplace to live. I believe he was embarrassed and too ashamed to say that he’d fallen behind. He insisted that he would take care of it. That year we spent Christmas in New York with family, but he stayed at his mother’s house and I stayed at my sister’s house. The fellas stayed with Dad until Christmas afternoon and then stayed with mom. I had some real soul searching to do. Am I going back and just go with the flow? I tried my best to focus on what was best for the family in the long run. My parents divorced when I was a young child. I was trying to avoid that at all cost. The one thing women want from her husbands is that feeling of security. You can be transparent with me and even when things are not perfect - we are going to figure this out together. I wasn’t feeling that way at all but I decided I was going to give it my all and see what happened.

February he lost his job and was starting to have some health issues. By April he was getting pretty discouraged. He’d received a job offer but it wasn’t what he was hoping for…(that is a whole blog by itself). My dad and stepmom came down around that time and my dad couldn’t figure out how he could turn down a job when he had a wife, two little boys and a baby on the way. Yes, I was expecting! Could this drama get any crazier?

My hubby says, let’s go back to New York. You will be closer to your mom and I could probably find a job up there. Let’s just leave everything and go. Hmmm, this is not really the way I operate. I moved to Atlanta and moved to this house against my better judgment. I am not going to pick up and run, leave my good paying job with benefits, especially with a baby on the way. (He wanted us to live in his friend’s basement…really? I did say that if he found something and could secure appropriate accommodations we could revisit the move.)

Well, I believe my husband was happy to not have the pressure of a mortgage, family and life so when he got to his friend’s house, he was relieved. He would call and speak to the fellas pretty regularly. He came to visit us in May for Mother’s Day. I asked: are you coming back? His reply: I don’t know. UGH! It was August when I first saw any money from him. It was clear that we were going to have to figure this out for ourselves. So with a four year old, a two year old and a newborn we started our journey – me and my three!

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