Shabby Miss Jenn

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Being Thankful

Curtis and I have been living in our house for seven years.  One afternoon, we were driving around "dreaming" about owning a home together.   Having only lived in TX for about seven months, I was not at all familiar with the area.  Every weekend, home developers put out their marketing to help guide you to the new neighborhoods.  I just kept telling Curtis to "follow the signs".   I had no idea where we were, Curtis kept telling me we were going too far out, but the signs finally led us to the neighborhood that would become our home just four months later.

During our first two and a half years in our house, we quickly became fast friends with a few other families on the street.  We were known to "do it up" like no one else in the neighborhood when it came to social events.  On Friday and Saturday evenings, we could all be found in someone's driveway enjoying the weather while gossiping over a few beverages.  On Sunday evenings, we would often gather at someone's house for a potluck dinner while watching Sunday night television.  The kids on the street became "everyone's" children.  Our street quickly became a village.  We even named our group; BOSS--Bent Oak Social Society--after the name of our street.

Between the two of us, Curtis is definitely the social butterfly.  In fact, some of the neighbors didn't even think I really existed for the first few months!  I had just started my teaching job, and my idea of a fun Friday night was laying on the couch watching TV.  I slowly came out of my shell and began meshing with our new friends.  Living so far from home (VA), these new people started becoming like family.  But as with family, things and people can start getting a little too close for comfort!  Misunderstandings and hurt feelings are bound to happen within a close knit group of people.  BOSS has definitely had it's fair share of drama over the past seven years.  Months have gone by where there was little interaction between some people.  However, as it seems to go with family, when you've experienced certain things and events with people, there's a bond that is formed that is really hard to break.  We've all certainly been in the middle of the drama, but in the end, it's that drama that has helped form such a deep connection.

I honestly didn't realize that strong, unbreakable bond until Wade was born.  Not only did mine and Curtis' life change, but our street was affected forever.  Instead of celebrating Wade's life at the hospital, our friends held a prayer circle in someone's driveway.  Instead of everyone coming to see mom and baby, people were splitting their time between two hospitals--some came to visit me at one hospital, while others went to support Curtis and Wade at the children's hospital.  Instead of a bunch of home cooked meals, we were receiving gift cards to local restaurants so that we could quickly grab a bite to eat to and from visiting Wade.

This group of friends rallied like no other.  Wade became the "Baby of Bent Oak"--BOBO.  There was always someone willing to step in and hold him or feed him or even change him.  The outpouring of love for our family was astounding.
Baby of Bent Oak
Over the years, a few families have moved, and a couple more have joined the circle.   The ones who have left the neighborhood are truly missed in the sake of proximity, but continue to stay connected and still come to participate in the festivities.  In only seven short years, the people of BOSS have grown and changed so much.  We have celebrated, and unfortunately, mourned lives.  We have stood on the sidelines watching families grow apart and other families grow stronger.  We have battled illnesses, job losses, and raising kids:-)  We have walked through some of the toughest hurdles together.  It has not been without many tears and angry words, but somehow we've become better and stronger because of all of these situations.

Today, Curtis, Wade and I celebrated Thanksgiving with some of these friends.  Unfortunately, due to distance and illness, we were not able to be with family.  During the blessing, I briefly reflected on some of the above.  It's not uncommon for a family who has a child with a disability to be "left out" or "forgotten" as the years go by.  Friends sometimes pull away while the family slowly retreats into their "new normal" of raising this child.  While I can't say I am a stranger to loneliness or that my heart doesn't break when I see other kids Wade's age running around outside, I can say that our family is truly blessed that Bent Oak has fully embraced us and supported us during some of the darkest days of our lives.  And for that, I am forever grateful and thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you BOSS for becoming our extended family.
Family and Friends at Wade's Baby Dedication

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exactly As They Should Be

Sometimes I have those moments where I just can't believe this is my life.  How did I get here???  This morning was one of those moments.

I was driving down the highway to take Wade to a makeup speech therapy session, and the accessible parking tag hanging from the rear view mirror caught my attention.  I looked down at my lowered--and very messy and cluttered--floor boards in our wheelchair accessible van.  How did this happen?   My dream car--a lovely, roomy minivan with more cupholders than necessary--had to be sold for this.  (I know you're probably still stuck on the part that a minivan was my dream car, but it was!)

I remember the nights when staying up past midnight meant that I could be lazy the next day.  Or if I did have to go to work, I could suffer through the day knowing that the couch would be waiting for me as soon as I made it home.  Instead, last night I was up past midnight sitting with two dear friends at my kitchen table as we deliriously hammered out goals and objectives for an upcoming ARD meeting...and it wasn't for Wade.  And when my head finally hit the pillow, I knew that today would not welcome laziness, but just more work for everything that lies ahead.

When did I become the stay at home mom that doesn't have time for anything?  I don't even have time to clean my house and do laundry on a regular basis.  I can never seem to figure out how to land and just be.  There's always something to do.  I haven't updated this blog in over a month, even though I have so much I want to say and keep record of.  Who said that stay at home moms don't really work???

I shouldn't be surprised, really.  Growing up, I just knew I'd be married by the magical age of 23.  I'd have 2.5 kids, a dog, and the white picket fence.  I'd be a teacher forever.  However, I didn't get married until I was 31.  I owned a house with a friend when I was single.  I moved to Florida.  I moved again to Texas.  I never thought I'd live away from my family.  I was 30 before I finally became a teacher, and now I am blessed to be able to stay at home with Wade.  As I've figured out, things rarely go as planned, or as I envision them anyway.  So, to have a perfect pregnancy at the age of 32/33, with a most traumatic delivery, which resulted in my first child having a disability, shouldn't really shock me.  Most of the time it doesn't.  Sometimes though, the simple things like an accessible parking tag and wheelchair accessible entrances are glaring signs that my life is so much different than I ever, ever imagined it would be.

Then, I see this sweet face looking back at me, and I realize things are exactly as they should be!

Wade in his turkey hat he made in school.