My name is Erica and I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. I was not the type of little girl who dreamed about her wedding day and the wonderful children she would one day have. Instead, I was an interesting mixture of nerd and tomboy. Little did I know that would change in my early teens (except the nerd part).
I entered high school in 2000 and joined the color guard. It was at band camp that I met a 17-year-old trumpet player named Alan. We became fast friends and by the end of that school year were basically dating. I say basically, because I was not allowed to go on a 1-on-1 date with him until I turned 16; however, we did go on group and double dates and he was a regular at our family dinners. I kicked and screamed over that dating rule at the time, but now that I have a daughter I am thinking about raising the age to 18… or 30.
Alan and I survived two different types of long-distance relationship stints and Alan’s near death experience with a nasty heart virus. By 2005, we were ready to get married. I was 19 and he was 22, both of us college drop-outs living on love. We thought we had a plan. I was finishing beauty school and Alan worked for his family’s business. After a couple years in the salon industry, I knew it was not the profession for me and continued to work in the family business. In September 2008, we had our first child, Savannah. We had no idea what to do with a baby but we learned quickly.
Remember those plans we thought we had? Little did we know that they were about to change… and change our lives forever. After a complex series of events, it was quickly decided that Alan needed to return to college. We had many intense conversations about this. I asked Alan if he could be anything, what would he want to be? His answer- a middle school history teacher. I gave him my full support. The biggest question was How in the world are we going to make this work? We were a young family dealing with the high costs that come with both a baby and college. I returned to a more regular work schedule at a daycare where I could take Savannah with me. Alan continued to work full-time while taking classes at night and online.
As if things needed to get any crazier, I decided I wanted to go to college as well. In 2011 I re-enrolled in the University of Memphis (go Tigers go!) and Alan and I offset our night classes so someone was always home with Savannah. We were now both working full-time and taking college classes full-time and being parents full-time.
I originally intended on being a teacher as well but after the first year of school, I definitely knew teaching children was not for me. Alan asked me the same career question I asked him. If I could be anything, what would I want to be? I have always loved reading and writing, so I wanted to major in English. Alan gave me his support, but I know he was wondering what I would actually do with a B.A. in English. Through changing my majors, I found my love for technical writing and never looked back.
April 2013 we put the sweet cherry on our Crazy Sundae when our son, Lincoln, was born. I was still in school that semester (never missed a class!) and Alan was graduating. We were finally seeing light at the end of this three year tunnel. My graduation was the following year.
Those years were difficult but so good for us. We learned how to cling together under stress, appreciate family time, and aim for some kind of balance (though balance will be a life-long struggle). Currently, we live in a newly built house in the tiny town of Rossville. Alan teaches middle school history in Collierville and I have a job I love in marketing. Savannah is in school and Lincoln goes to daycare. Though we are in four different places doing our own things during the day, we always regroup at the dinner table where everyone must attend and no one can use electronics.