My Story

There has been some drama in my family lately.  We love each other unconditionally, but have taken different paths.  The term that keeps coming up is “non-traditional lifestyle”.  I get that everyone leads their own path and makes their own choices.

My story is one that can be described as nurturing, loving, hard working, opportunities, mistakes, bouncing back, drama, and luck.  I know that my parents provided the best they could for all four girls and that we all were provided with ample love and other resources.  Yes, Christa and I got to attend a private school for junior high, but both my sisters were equally as loved and given opportunities, cars, and experiences.  I won’t focus on their lives during this post, but my own.

I was raised in a loving family with a workaholic father, stay at home mom, and sisters.   My parents had two daughters and tried once more for a boy.  Two or three days before we were born, the doctor said, “woops, my bad…you aren’t having a big boy, but twin girls”.  According to legend, my dad just kept writing 2 on a paper over and over.  He quit his job in the grocery business in Michigan and moved my family to Bossier (Shreveport), Louisiana to be closer to my mom’s family. 


We lived in Bossier until I was in Kindergarten when my dad was transferred to Pineville, Louisiana.  My elementary school was great, but I remember once talking too much and my teacher hitting me on the arm with a wooden paddle and warning me to shut up.  I think back and know that this would never happen today. 

Growing up in a small Louisiana town was ok.  Our high school seemed to be very cliquish.  I look back and think back about some of the kids who were the “elite” and just laugh…it was so stupid and so small town.  Our 20 year reunion is being planned and some people don’t want to go.  I get it.  I don’t know if I want to go.  Facebook has made reunions moot because we can all see how each other turned out.  It appears we have all had bumps in the road.

Our ninth grade year Christa decided she was going to complete high school in three years.  My response, “well I guess I will do the same because I don’t want my twin to be in college and me to be in high school”.  We took summer school and extra classes. We were go getters.  We made things happen. During our sophomore year of high school the Rotary Club came to talk about summer exchange programs.  Christa decided she wanted to go to Italy.  Once again, I was not going to be left behind.   The funny story was that poor Christa got stuck with a weird Italian mob family and I was placed with a wonderful, cool family with teenagers who were fun.

When a family fight erupts and someone says, “you went to Italy”, I just laugh.  I laugh because the Skelly girls were never “privileged, spoiled girls”.  We are hard workers.  We cleaned houses when we were 10 years old.  We wore Keebler Elf outfits when we were 14 and 15 (my dad was in the grocery business).  We worked every summer in the hotdog stand in front of the grocery store selling hot dogs (this was our Italy money).  The day we turned 16 we became cashiers.  I worked all through high school as a cashier and when I went to college I had two jobs.  I worked at Winn Dixie in the produce department and had a campus job.  The deal was that my parents would pay tuition ($1200 a semester plus books) and we would pay our room and board.  They also paid our car insurance. 

The best gift my parents ever gave me was work ethic.  They have it, I have it, my husband has it, and I pray that my kids have it.  I firmly believe the key to a good life is work ethic.

I’m not going to pretend life was perfect.  My parents seperated a few weeks before I started high school.  I was devastated.  That year was not a good year.  Thankfully they worked things out, but it was not easy.

I never had boyfriends in high school.  In fact, my first date was a blind date to my high school prom.  I remember Christa trying to find guys who would go with me.  I was turned down over and over and was mortified!  I remember being in McDonalds and Christa meeting with a guy to ask him and he looked at me and told her, no thanks.  Talk about deflating. I didn’t understand why all these classmates always had dates, boyfriends, and I didn’t.  Finally a friend of a friend agreed to go to prom with me (I was 16).  His name was Sammy and he was the nicest guy ever.  He was a year younger, but I was graduating early, so the gap was wider.  He was my first boyfriend and I had just graduated from high school.  My dad got transferred to South Louisiana in the spring of our senior year (we were 16).  We lived with Michelle and her new born baby Morgan.  Christa and I continued to go to school and work at the grocery store.


I remember that Christa and I sorted out college on our own.  We figured it out.  We took the tests, scored high enough to receive our first year dorm for free at USL and were on our way.  I started college 4 months after I turned 17.  I was a baby.  The funny story was that someone made a mistake on my student ID and put that I was 21.  Back in the day the bars on the strip took your student ID.  I would go in and then someone would go out and give it to Christa to use it.

I dated a couple of guys but soon became serious with one of the first guys who seemed interested in me.  I will call him J.  He was cute and I was flattered.  I was young and dumb and stupid enough to marry him my senior year in college.  He had a business administration degree and I naively though things were good.  There were millions of red flags, but I chose to ignore them. It could take me days to talk about the craziness of this bad choice, but this is what I will say.  He was a chronic liar and lazy.  He went part time for his job so he would “pretend” to go to graduate school at LSU.  I was a social studies education major teaching math and science in a rural school making $23,000 a year.  Apparently he would leave and then once I left he would come back and spend the entire day online porn. Right before I would come home he would leave (the neighbors later told me this).


I knew immediately I made a mistake marrying this person.  It was awful.  We got married in the Catholic Church and I tried to make it work.  I thank God we didn’t have kids.   After 9/11 everyone re-evaluated their life. I remember he brought home a bunch of kittens.  This made me angry because he couldn’t take care of himself, much less a bunch of cats (I mowed lawn, worked full time, paid bills, did the oil change on both cars, etc).  One day the kittens peed all over everything.  I had enough.  He had enough.  He said, “I want  a divorce”.  I said “OK!!!”.  We had this same conversation every weekend since we got married, but this time was for real.  When he said, “I’m joking, I don’t want a divorce, I replied “sorry, this is it”.  It was October, Christa was living in Houston and she told me to move there.  I sent my resume to a ton of schools and got hired to start in January shortly later. 
Here was the upside:  I was given a fresh start in Houston, with no kids and a new life, and making twice as much as a teacher.  The downside:  I had a house to sell and a husband who was addicted to internet porn. Unbeknownst to me he took out $30,000 in credit card debt to pay for it.  When you are married, it doesn’t matter if you know about it or not.  You are responsible for it.


So I move in with Christa and her ex-husband, pay them rent and pay the mortgage on the Lafayette house that my loser ex was living in because he refused to pay the bill.  We had a for sale by owner sign that he would put in the garage most of the time.  If I visited my parents I would stop by and put the sign back out.  One random day I get a call from someone who says, we want to buy your house but don’t know if it is for sale.  One day the sign is there, the next it is not.  I told them, it is for sale, I will drive 4 hours today and make the deal!  I was 23 and sold a house all by myself!!!! It didn’t help that we had to both come up with a few thousand dollars at closing and right after closing he canceled his check…nightmare! You can’t make this stuff up.  Thankfully, the sale still went through.

The divorce took forever and I got stuck with all the debt because the loser ex refused to take on any of it.  (It was all his!).  I didn’t want to have bad credit!

Life in Houston was wonderful.  I cherished every new day of freedom.  I had an awesome job, co-workers and lived in a fun city.  I joined Emerging Leaders of Downtown Houston because a friend told me about it.  I was looking to meet a nice, professional guy.  I got involved in a group where we arranged happy hours every month to raise money for Saint Jude Children’s Hospital.  I moved into a fun house with two engineers.  I called it the “frat house” because my rent was cheap, we lived in the loop, and we had a ping pong table in the dining room.


I worked hard and dated lots of guys.  I was stood up on a date and attended a debate watching party.  That is where I met Dave.  Neither of us were rolling in the money….Far from it.   I was a struggling teacher trying to tackle this 30,000 debt that I had no part of and Dave was just responsible. 

He asked me out and I knew he was the “one “ early on.  I just had this weird, good, comfortable feeling. I loved that he planned our first date. 

We got married, he quit is job and went back to school.  We bought a house in a “seedier” part of town and lived off of loans and my teacher salary.  We both worked hard and harder. I always worked and took 6 weeks off for each of my first two girls.  I had a miscarriage, my twin sister got cancer, and I thought I had the same thing.  Life has not been perfect.


I know that Dave and I have worked very hard.  He paid my loser ex’s 30,000 debt (before we were married) so that we could buy a house.  We have always lived below our means.  Yes, we splurge but we shop at Target and I love the Goodwill.  The last couple of years have been quite crazy and we get that it could change at any moment. 


So, that is where we are.  I am a stay at home mom after 14 years of teaching high school.  I worked very hard.  I earned 2 Masters Degrees that weren’t fun or easy.  Dave earned a Masters Degree.  We had a ton of student debt that we paid off.  We could have gone buck wild and bought crazy stuff, but we get that retirement and savings are important.

So now we are grateful to be moving close to Christa.  Our house is nice, very nice.  We get how lucky we are.  I told Dave the whole time, I want to live by Christa because I love being close to them, but also because their neighborhood is so social.  I love our house in Katy.  It is the perfect size.  But, the neighborhood is not social. 

Life is good!!!!


Ok, the point of my story.  People can look at you and think you have the “perfect life”.  I love my life, but it is not perfect.  We have struggles.  But we get through them and we are very appreciative!

No comments: