For Quang and I, challenges came often. Being part of a team has helped us grow closer and stronger over the past 14 years we’ve been together. The start of our relationship brought quite a few of our first challenges. Me bringing a child into the relationship and not being Vietnamese were two big ones. The differences in our families was a little straining. I could never understand growing up the way he did. How his parents expected so much sacrifice from him so he could take care of them. He considered me part of the “white privilege,” which wasn’t exactly true. I grew up taken care of and not really needing to do much, but I wasn’t part of some wealthy, high-society -get whatever I wanted family. We had struggles. But, I get what he means. I did have more privileges than he did.
We grew up very different and bringing those differences into our relationship was challenging. Having Quang try to get used to being a young father to Vanessa was the other challenge. When he and I got together we were very young. Not even at the legal drinking age. Vanessa was about as old as Taylor is now. It was tough for him, but he has done a great job being a dad to her. Treating her fairly, like his own daughter and trying not to step on her dad’s toes. I couldn’t have asked for a better guy. Hats off to the stepdads who step up and take on the dad role. Quang does it perfectly.
We definitely got off to a rough start, but I managed to make him stay, which I know he is so thankful about that. After finally making it past the whole “she’s not Asian” challenge, Quang & I continued on our journey of challenges and hard knocks.
In April of 2009 we had Carter. Our first child together. What an amazing moment for us. For Quang. His first born. His son. He couldn’t wait to do all the things dads do with their little boys. He couldn’t wait to finally have someone call him Daddy. We were challenge free for a while until we got hit with the biggest gut punching news.
Carter’s Autims Diagnosis.
At first, things weren’t so challenging because we really didn’t know what this Autism was. We had never heard of it nor did we know what it would bring on. It didn’t take long for us to become very familiar with it. To become familiar with the doctors, the surveys, the questionnaires, the tests, the meltdowns (Carter’s and ours), the frustration, and the unknown. Carter didn’t do things like kids his age did. He didn’t talk. Quang still hasn’t heard his son call him Daddy. The biggest thing he wanted and waited for. It’s tough. Carter didn’t pretend play. Quang doesn’t get to do a lot of the things dads do with their sons. No baseball games (too loud and crowded). No playing football in the yard (Carter doesn’t have the coordination).
All those things Quang couldn’t wait for are yet to be fulfilled. That’s challenging. Carter is challenging. Even though we get frustrated from time to time, we come together and work as a team for Carter. We can’t both be impatient and frustrated and over it. If one of us isn’t handling Carter very well, the other steps up. Thankfully we have grown so much through this experience and can handle a lot more together. Better together than apart.
We have been apart before, but not separated. When we made the big move to Texas and started a business, it was a lot of stress. A lot of stress. We expected things to go much differently, but our plans didn’t go the way we wanted. We lost a lot of money moving and letting the business go, but in the end, we were ready to move back home. I moved home first with the kids and lived with my brother in law. Quang was still in Texas trying to resolve the business stuff. We even still had a few months left on the house we rented there. I was home without Quang for about 2 months. Then we moved into a small apartment. It wasn’t easy. Then we found out we would be having another baby. We made it back into our house just in time for Taylor to make her debut.
Everything was finally looking up again. We put Texas and the loss behind us and just moved forward. The positive attitude got us through it all. Working together instead of separately helped us see the bigger picture. I was grateful to have someone so supportive and willing to experience life with me in the most positive way. We have definitely had our bad moments, but in the end we are a team. Like I said, better together than apart.
Texas helped to give us a new outlook on life, but it was also a death in the family that really put things into perspective even more. Another challenge to get through. Last year was a bad year for Quang’s family. The loss of his brother, John was really rough. He was only just a couple years older than us. His parents of course took it really hard. Especially his mom. I just can’t imagine losing a child. Thinking about it just really broke my heart into a million pieces. I knew I couldn’t do anything to help, but I wished that I could.
During this time with all the family down visiting for the funeral, someone asked us about getting married. Again. Somehow this snowballed into a full blown wedding. When I heard about the wedding I was having I was shocked. I’m getting married? When is this happening? No one even asked me! Quang’s parents seemed so happy about it, so I just agreed. I just wanted everyone to be happy. Even if that meant I had to have a wedding. Quang’s parents agreed to keep it small. Meaning, not 400 people. More like 150. Still a bit much, but better than the plans for Wedding 1. This wedding gave his parents something to look forward to and with John’s death casting a dark cloud over the family, a wedding seemed like the perfect way to create some sort of light. I was willing to do whatever they wanted. Even attend a religious marriage class. Even go dress shopping.
Even spend my time looking for a cake and flowers and everything else we needed for the wedding. I don’t enjoy it. But, I guess it’s not about me. I have to keep reminding myself why I’m doing it.
Fast forward to one month before the wedding. One month before I walk down an aisle that I never wanted to walk down. One month before I stand in front of our closest family and friends and repeat the most traditional words spoken in a church. One month before I slide into a wedding gown and promise to do all kinds of stuff. One month and I still need to find a cake and a seamstress and flowers and the list goes on. Wedding 2 is definitely on the fast track. I guess I better buckle up and try to enjoy the ride.
Quang and I have been together for 14 long years. We’ve experienced so much together during that time. We’ve brought out the worst in each other, but more importantly, we’ve brought out the best. We aren’t exactly the same people we were in the beginning. We aren’t who the other person fell in love with. And trust me, that’s a good thing. It’s because we’re better versions of ourselves. It’s because we took those challenges that we faced and we handled them head on. We didn’t run. We worked as a team. I’ll say it again……..
Better together than apart.