I had visions of peacefully writing....fresh warm cup of coffee with a little cream, brown sugar and cinnamon; snow falling gently from the sky and a very clean and remodeled home. Well....here I sit strengthening my 'flexibility' muscles.
My sweet 97 year old Granny is in the hospital for something fluish and miserable. My seventy something Momma is taking her turn sitting with her and my children and I are taking a turn spending time with my seventy something Dad at our family home. My coffee is in a stryofoam cup left over from a wonderful breakfast with a beautiful friend this morning and what's left of it is rather cold. I'll probably drink it anyway. My 11 year old son sits across from me seriously invested in a game on my smartphone, my 7 year old daughter is in the other room making melodies of her own on the keyboard. My hardworking hubby is at home sanding and preparing to stain new wood floors. I am doing laundry a little laundry for my parents and the washer continues to beep and stop cycling until I go push pause and start again. This is really testing my elasticity! I guess I should be proud...things are insanely out of my control and the thing that irritates me most is an uncooperative machine.
A new year is about to begin and I am intensely aware of the changes coming with us. As a matter of fact, the older I get the more life seems to be a flux of constant change. Viewing it as an adventure and leaning into the adventure (even and especially when it's hard) is something I've had the opportunity to begin to learn these past couple of years....so while I am afraid and apprehensive I am also greeting the changes with open (mostly) arms.
I will begin working as a Resource Coordinator for Sooner Start this week. I honestly cannot say it is my deepest desire to return to work full time - I am perfectly happy being home full time. I can honestly say that if I need to go to work full time (and yes, I NEED to do this), the way this job 'came to me' is a total God thing (I know some of my dear friends would call it coincidences or acts of the universe, I believe God has his hand on me and in this situation particularly and that there are no accidents) and I am (cautiously) very excited to begin this journey.
When our family was at Disney World, I observed many families with special needs children. I am of the mind that all children are 'special needs' and being a parent is a tough job. I've spent lots of time observing how very lacking our society is in fulfilling parental needs on many counts. Having a hand in helping families strengthen and be able to help their children to the best of their abilities is a passion of my heart.
Knowing that I would need to seek employment, on the flight back from Florida, Nathan and I discussed options. I shared that I was feeling very drawn toward working with special needs kiddos and their families. I have been substitute para-ing and have greatly enjoyed it but it's not where I feel I will have the strongest impact. If I am to find a career outside of home, I want to feel as if I am spending that time fulfilling a purpose and passion of my heart.
The irony of this...when I graduated college in 1995, I stated with confidence to a professor that I would NEVER work with special needs kids. It was not because I didn't love them. The opposite was true...it's because I loved them so deeply that I believed I would not be effective working with them in any capacity because I would feel sorry for them. I have learned that 'love' looks very different than what I thought at that time.
Over the past few years I have established deep rooted friendships with families who are privileged enough to have a 'special needs' child. I have met them through church, work, Pathways, friends of friends and so forth. I say privileged because they have taught me incredible lessons about loving someone where they are at and trusting that God meets us every step of the way; and mostly about reinforcing my conviction that our biggest blessings often come disguised as hardships. They have learned these lessons through parenting their special needs gifts and countless people have been touched by their example of living.
Go back in time (I don't wanna!) to that 'big ole stroke'. Looking back, if the therapists had not cared enough to get me motivated to learn to dress myself again so I could get up and have that utility belt strapped around my waist only to be led through hospital halls; I very well may not be walking as I do today. If therapists had not cared enough to put boxing gloves on my right hand so I was forced to use my left side (which had been injured in the stroke), would I have developed the dexterity to hold a book and read or to cook a meal for people I love? If the doctors had not played that stupid little game where they made me follow their finger with my eyes and touch my finger to my nose...would I have regained that focal strength I now have (not perfected but greatly improved)? From this I learned...compassion = awesomeness and pity = stagnation. Having my own special needs greatly increased my desire to help others with special needs.
As I stated earlier, I have been substitute para-ing for special needs kiddos. What an amazing and exhausting experience! One little boy in particular I got to spend two weeks with right before Sooner Start called me really grabbed my heart. He had no words, but he had a smile that could light up the world and a contagious laugh that I would go great lengths to hear. He had eyes that sparkled with wonder and my time with him was full of life lessons. Words are not always necessary to communicate on a heart level. I watched his mother in awe (she has two other 'typical' children) as she advocated for her child in the school system. A tough job! This was the final cement I needed to know I wanted to be a part of something that involved special needs children and their families.
Fast forward to home from Florida....
I posted on facebook that I needed a job...who had ideas? An old acquaintance emailed me and told me of the position at Sooner Start as a resource coordinator working with families of special needs children. This was no more than 12 hours after my conversation with Nathan. She and I chatted a bit about it and she gave me the number of the supervisor. When I did get to talk to the supervisor she asked me to get in a resume and application that night as they were winding down on interviews.
No matter what I or Nathan did, my application and quickly created resume would not send. Nathan can fix anything on the computer and when he couldn't, I was in despair. I did not want the supervisor to think I didn't care. I also didn't think she would appreciate a call from me at nearly midnight. I waited until 7:30 the next morning to text her and let her know what happened. She asked if I could come fill this out in person before 9 a.m. YES! I don't believe it was accidental that I had to physically go to the office and meet the supervisor. There I was pleasantly surprised to see that two of my favorite past co workers were also employed at Sooner Start. I was so very hopeful, and as I walked out the door I believed I was walking out the door of my future employer.
I was called for an interview. I met with a supervisor and her supervisor. It's been a LONG time since I have interviewed. I made a conscious effort to not act prim and proper but to share my heart and trust God in this process. It was good! They let me know it would be a while before I heard anything as this was a state agency and things took a while. My friends who work there shared that their hiring process were two and four months long. That was in October. I emailed once in a while (hoping not to bother) to get an update which was always answered kindly and quickly...but still not a final answer. I still 'felt' this job was mine but tried to talk myself out of any possible 'magical' thinking while still staying positive and hopeful. And I tried, I tried so hard to utilize patience and trust trust trust.
The Friday before Christmas break was a rough sort of day. I was headed out to get a flu shot when a man jumped off a bridge in front of me and ended his life. I felt some weird sort of bond with the man whose truck he jumped onto and the other witness and feel I will see them again in life. But the event was tragic in every way... that's a whole nuther' story to write but you can see the day started off difficult to say the least. Next, I went to my Dad's dr appointment with my Mom, Dad and sister. I tell these things to emphasize that I longed for some happiness in the day. When HR called to offer me this job, I was thrilled and I'm pretty sure I EEEKKKKEEEDDD! in the lady's ear. A God kiss for me.
I am sure I left out a detail or two but isn't it funny how things work? Life events that lead us from one end of the spectrum to another...that change our perspective 180 degrees? I am eagerly anticipating what lies ahead and deeply grateful for what is now.
"And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been." -Rainer Maria Wilke