Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's The Middle That Counts

 "...Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning." (Hope Floats)

I thought we'd be moving away this week.  That's what I told our dentist, doctors, and therapists as I got records, made last minute appointments, cancelled others, and oh, listed our house and SOLD MY KITCHEN TABLE. It was beat-up anyway, but that's serious intent, right there.

Oh, and with the expectation of moving across state lines and not having company insurance benefits for the first 9 months, along with other reasons, we enrolled Jeremiah back in school.  That's a whole 'nother post, but basically, I feel totally confident in this decision.  His teacher (who was going to be his teacher last year) just agreed to start a special needs Sunday school at our church.  Guess who is her first class member?  And guess who I worked with to get J back into the system smoothly?  Seminary grad.  When we were small-talking at J's IEP meeting, he mentioned graduating seminary and I immediately said, "So that's why I like you so much."  This man was so helpful and on-the-ball and welcoming to us coming in to the school year a few weeks late.  I honestly left that meeting and thought to myself, "I feel like God's favorite person."  It's so cool to me how I've changed in my view of education and special education in particular.  I feel more empowered from our year of homeschooling and so at peace that this particular autism classroom and that this particular teacher sees my whole child.  He (like any child) needs so much more that academics and this is a great fit.  Public school is our choice for this year and this stage of J's development and I stand by that.  Honestly, one of the few things holding me back was "well, what will my homeschooling acquaintances say?" like I would lose some kinda mommy-wars street cred.  Which is ridiculous, but there you go.

This move, or almost-move, gave us permission to re-examine our life and priorities.  And that's been worth all the emotional energy it consumed.

Two weeks ago, my husband hands in his notice.  His employer makes a counter-offer; he comes back to me and we decide we were still "go" on the move.  We have an over-the-top-this-is-wonderful trip to Knoxville.  Which is most likely due to the fact that we are alone for almost 3 days and can do anything we please... brunch, home-hunting, campus strolling, happening upon a local downtown festival (I die), eating on the hip square, a movie. Bliss.  We visit a church and the worship rings true.  We can do this.  The possibility of a double housing payment, uprooting and starting over; the potential of the job and the city are worth it.

Two weeks ago:

We're moving in two weeks to the Knoxville, TN area.  Which is the same amount of time I've had to start mentally preparing for this.  Listing the house, making calls, and doing a last round of doctor visits.

A job opportunity that caught Alex's attention last year has become open again and he is going for it.  He'll be working in the same field of computer programming and working with the same language, while learning a new one.  It's a fantastic professional opportunity in a exciting area (for us, at least.  I mean-- SEC football, seasons, and even a Trader Joe's.)

When we moved to Middle Georgia six years ago, we just loaded up our 1100 square feet of stuff and toted our newborn along.  I had my husband and my baby and as long as I had that, I was up for anything.  And then we built a house and moved in and had another baby.  And another baby.  And we have lots more square feet of stuff.  Lots more bills.  Lots more obligations.  And we're honestly excited to hit the reset button and simplify again.

I've still got that "where thou goest I will go" spirit because, well, that's the deal.  If my husband is happy and fulfilled and it happens to be in another state, that's where I want to be.

Then I reflect on all the middles.  It stops me short, a punch in the gut.

I know some things here.  I know the places.   I know the people.

I have a community.  Just this Sunday, a longtime Sunday school teacher remarked that our children's faces are carbon copies of one another.  

They are loved here.

When someone goes the extra mile for your kid, it sticks with you.  And there are so many faces in my mind that have done this for me in the last several years.

The deacon who helps in J's choir class.  One evening I came to choir classes without J because he'd just been having a hard time.  This man made a point to come over and tell me that J was missed-- and welcomed-- there.  And you know you just cruising along and come undone in a moment because a kind word has just opened your Achilles' heel?  That's life in the middle.

Same thing with my pastor.  I attend a relatively large church in the area.  Church culture gets knocked around a lot, sometimes deservedly, but from the moment I met my pastor, I've been impressed by his genuine care for people, while being an excellent teacher and administrator.  When I finally started sharing openly about J, I asked the pastor to pray over me.  The next time I saw him in the halls of our church, he made a point to share a story of a young autistic man who was becoming a missionary, fluent in 5 languages.  He made sure to have a hard copy of the article sent to my house.  While most of what I know about my pastor comes from sitting under his teaching, actions and character speak volumes.  I'm so tenderhearted toward my church. Church is a good thing.  It's truly a second home.

So many kind and passionate teachers and therapists that have invested in all of us.  Those real deal friends who quietly go the extra mile to meet your needs: a kid's special haircut, a 1:1 VBS teacher for J, a meal or a coffee date.  Therapists, with so many clients to attend to, have each gone above and beyond in some way to encourage me in J's progress under their care.  

There are good people everywhere.  I've just meet so many here.

This is a love letter and a promise.  

I'm going to take all of this and make, hopefully, new memories that quickly become middles.


The second time he turns in his notice, with the offers being even and the reality of a home, community, and supports in place for J in particular, we decide to stay.

And now, we're in the middle of our middle again.  Our closets are leaner and meaner.  We are, too.  I'm trying to take the excitement I was ready to invest into a new home and pour it into new outlets.  We're going to a Country and Western concert at THE Georgia National Fair, our first since dating years. (Musicals and plays, yes, but live music, sadly, no).  We're playing softball for our local Autism support group.  I hope to take the kids to visit their aunt and uncle in Kentucky because if Fall won't come to us, we'll come to Fall.  And I have two little girls ready for some attention.

Basically, we're a stronger team.  We can bust it for each other.  That lesson was worth learning.

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