Today is the second day of school. Today was the first day that everyone rode the bus to school and it will be Shelby’s first day riding it home.
For the first time ever, as I watched the boys get on the bus, I felt myself choke-up. I have missed my kids before, but this was a whole new level of missing them. Shelby and I went back to the house and waited on our porch for her bus. She had really wanted to get on the boys’ bus. Then she thought, for sure that we would be riding in my car. She has grown up so much. When I told her “no” there were no hysterics, just calm resolution. And then excitement when I promised she was going to school and would see her teacher and teacher assistant. She really, really missed the structure over the summer.
The last few years have been rough. We lost jobs when William was born and Shelby had just been diagnosed. We went through major health scares with both William and Joseph. Everyone started “real” school and Jeff worked in a series of teaching jobs far from home. I did a lot of solo parenting in that time. Jeff and I were often like two ships passing in the night and many times, he left before the kids got up and was back after they were asleep. While Jeff worked in Pitt County, I had a strict routine established with the kids. When he took the job in Jacksonville, that entire routine went out the window (particularly bath, story-time, singing songs and bed time).
We had two cars die and our house needed work that we neither had the money nor patience for. Nothing major, but nagging things. And we knew we were getting to the end of the lives of our cabinets and major appliances. Life was stressful, unbearably so at times. Everyone spent a lot of time getting on one another’s nerves in a major way.
After our house did not sell last summer, we began to think that maybe we were stuck there for a while and that God just wanted us to stay put. And that’s when things started to happen. The painting and re-carpeting and the purging continued and then, finally, the house went on the market and sold in two days.
Since we’ve been here, all we’ve had is God and each other. We love our new home and new furniture and our proximity to the beach and pool. We are easing our way into our community and the school year. But those things are nothing compared to what God has shown us we have this summer. The pool was a tool for showing us how to have fun together, how to play together. A bigger bedroom was the tool to show the boys they could have their own space, even when their preference is to be together. The beach was a tool for showing us we could thrive together. And our king-size bed was a tool for showing us we want to be together. God pulled out all the stops and used it all to show us just how connected we are to one another and need each other. That doesn’t mean we haven’t and don’t have tense moments (like when our closing wasn’t received at the court house in time to record on the Friday before Memorial Day and we were broke with no furniture til Tuesday night). It doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of struggles or pain (please keep Jeff’s father in your prayers). But we are happier and better now.
Last night after school, Jeff sat in his recliner with Shelby while reviewing things from school and the boys and I sat together on the couch reading books. William had brought down a comforter we were snuggling under. It was the best moment of the whole day. I realized we never did that at our old house. No, not in a long, long time. We were all to busy getting things done so another day could begin. Jeff had to rush to bed because 4:45 AM got earlier and earlier (he now gets up at 6:15). Last night around 3 AM, I heard Shelby get up and she went over and climbed into our bed. And because we upgraded to the king size, no one was suddenly cramped and we all got the restful, restorative sleep we needed.
God wanted us to reconnect with each other and that is what stirred our hearts to move and take new jobs (well, Jeff’s is new-er, I’m in the same position in the same company just a different location), change schools and learn routes. We trusted. We obeyed. We were rewarded.