Monday, April 17, 2017

Moving Day

The decision was made. We were moving again. This time from a large city in Texas to a Mayberry-sized town in Indiana. The kids weren’t sure what to think. Texas had been home to them for 4 years. When we moved, they were 6 and 11. This had become home to them.
Grant had only gone to school with his friends in Texas. The idea of moving scared him, but he was very excited about moving closer to family. Hunter was in high school and had met some friends, but those friendships had gone south.  He wasn’t keeping up with his schoolwork and we weren’t sure what the next step was with him, but he wasn’t happy at all about the impending change and leaving his friends.

Needless to say, we had some difficult conversations, but we knew we were making plans for our future and this was where we needed to be, so we worked our butts off organizing closets and the garage, painting, and cleaning the house from top to bottom. In early March of 2016, the house was officially on the market.

Along with the many emotions of moving and leaving friends that I dearly loved, every day was a battle to keep the house clean. I felt like a drill sergeant with the kids and thought I was going to lose it. Two kids and two dogs, does not a clean house make, so it was an uphill battle. It all seems like a blur now, but somehow after 30 showings, the house sold in 5 weeks.

Now came the really fun part…packing all of our crap! I knew we had a lot of stuff, but I thought our move 4 years earlier had rid us of the clutter. It absolutely did not!!!! We spent the next 4 weeks before closing, packing and packing and drinking wine by the gallon. (In the interest of full disclosure, the wine part was just me.)
In early May, amongst the craziness of our lives, I received the call that my Grandmother was very sick. We rushed home, driving through the night to get to her so I could say my final good-bye. It was sad and beautiful at the same time, as I watched my entire large, crazy family spend her final hours with her. We hugged her and kissed her and told her how much we loved her, and then in an instant she was gone. The next several days were very hard. Our hearts were broken because she was truly the matriarch of our family. Life would never be the same without her in it.

After a week in Indiana, we found ourselves back on the road to Texas. It was moving time. We pulled a trailer in front of our house and loaded it every single day. The kids were finishing up school, my hubby was finishing up loose ends at his office in Dallas, and packing was taking every other minute of our time.
Then, on May 11th, my fur baby Starlett Chanel passed away. We knew she was sick and we knew it was coming sooner than later. She had been very sick and could no longer walk. I was changing her diapers and bathing her every day. Sleep was just a distant memory. We were hoping to get her back to Indiana, but instead, she went the way she would have wanted to go, in my husband’s arms. She was only 7, so it was so hard to lose her.

In mid-May, my parents came down with a big trailer to help us move. They helped us pack for a few days.  After a huge moving day of all the heavy furniture, beds and remaining boxes, they left with a full trailer to bring some of our things back to Indiana. The rest would follow later in moving trucks.
We found ourselves in an empty home for the next week, so the kiddos could finish school. The emotions were abundant. We were sad to leave our friends; excited about our new journey; nervous about everything we were about to take on; and exhausted beyond belief.

The next weekend, we pulled out of the driveway of the place we had called home for 4 years. There were tears in all of our eyes and a heaviness in our hearts as we started our new adventure.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Love takes you home

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past year has been a little crazy. In December of 2015, we traveled back home to Indiana from Texas for Christmas break. During our several trips home per year, my hubby and I would try to take advantage of the extra babysitting hands. This time was no different, so we went out for a few date nights. Each time we were out, we found ourselves looking for “For Sale” signs and “Lot for Sale” signs. It became almost a daily activity.
We found ourselves vaguely discussing the possibility of moving home. Then, we found ourselves becoming more and more serious about the scenario. We had not intended to move to Texas, and we had never planned on it being our permanent home, but something was pulling on our heart strings to do it sooner, not later. We missed our family. Parents and grandparents were getting older. Our kids were missing out on quality family time. Plus, our support system was at home, and as all parents of children with special needs know, having extra hands and eyes is so important. The idea became more and more real.
We had not seriously spoken with our family about moving back home. Our parents didn’t know. Our kids didn’t know. We just had serious, late-night couple talks about the possibility and how we could make it happen. When we moved to Texas, we had moved from a town that was relatively close to our family (about 30 minutes). This time, we really wanted to live in the small town where I grew up. It is a quaint little town. Everybody knows everybody else’s business (which can be good and bad).  When I was young, I had the majority of my large Catholic family living within blocks of me. Because of this, I am very close to my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins are more like siblings to me. It is a weird dynamic for some, but for me, it has been amazing! I wanted the same for my kiddos.

Once we arrived back in Texas from Christmas break, the discussions became pretty serious. My hubby had spoken to the powers-at-be at work about working from home in Indiana and traveling back and forth to Dallas and they were onboard. The search for a house became ongoing. I would check the real estate websites daily.

Then, one day in January a beautiful old home caught my eye. It would need a lot of work. Were we willing to take on that large of a project? How would we even know if we didn’t make the 14-hour trip to find out? We discussed it…and discussed it…and talked it over with the kids who were a little surprised, but had overheard some of our discussions. Then, we called our parents to let them know that we were coming home to look at a house. The cat was out of the bag.

We drove through the night on a Friday to get home to look at the house. It was a long drive and we were very tired and a little excited. We met with the realtor and looked at the house. It was as cute as the pictures showed online, but seemed really small. We would have to put a lot of money into expansion, and the foundation was a little concerning. We left the house feeling like the trip home might have been a huge and exhausting waste of time.
We spent hours on Saturday looking at lots because the homes for sale were scarce. People who were born and raised there don’t often move very far away and people who move into the area, don’t like to leave, making the real estate a hot commodity. We found some interesting prospects that we were throwing around. Then, our story made a surprising turn.
After arriving home from looking at lots, my parents graciously offered up a lot they had purchased as an investment. It was just down the road from them (I mean a stones-throw). At first, I thought, “This is ABSOLUTELY not going to happen!” I am a forty-something year-old woman. Do I want to live that close to my parents? Then, I thought about it and the idea grew on me. My kids could walk to my parent’s house. I would be close by to take care of them later. I had grown-up across the street from my Grandparents, and it was such an amazing blessing! The question became, “What is the hubby going to say about this one?” He had lived far away from grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins as a child. This was a whole new ballgame for him. Was this going to scare him? Surprisingly, as I was tossing these thoughts around in my head and contemplating the magnitude of it all he said, “I would be open to that idea. What do you think?” So…this is how our busy year began!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rediscovering my lifeline

I’ve been kind of out of the loop for a while, off the radar, taking a break from the thing I love to do most in this world…write. Part of it has been our amazingly crazy life the past year (more to follow), some of it has been lack of clarity.  I’ve had people message me and ask when I was going to write again. Family and friends have stopped me and asked me why I wasn’t writing. The truth is, I just didn’t have it in me. I am out of practice, but I am going to force myself do it again. I need to. It is what makes me happy and keeps the small amount of sanity I have intact. Bear with me because the writing might be subpar at best.

Here goes…

In 2012, my hubby unexpectedly lost his job. We had just finished remodeling our kitchen and family room of our older home. We had hung the final pictures on the wall on Tuesday evening and by Friday afternoon, he was looking for jobs. Soon we found ourselves uprooting our family to Denton, Texas from Indiana. We started a brand new life. It was difficult. We were away from family and friends and our support group. It was hard. I was alone in a big city. My hubby was working crazy hours. Our kids were trying to adjust. I knew no one. Having a child with Autism made this even more difficult. He was angry about moving. He was struggling making new friends. He was almost 12, so the hormones were in full swing. There were days I just didn’t know how I was going to make it. I was trying to hold it together for my kids and my hubby. Putting on a brave face for everyone around me.

In March of 2013, my husband came home to find me still in my PJs for the third day in a row and he said, “Maybe you should start writing again…” This in a nutshell meant I think you are losing your shit, so maybe you need to do something so you do go over the edge, so I did it. By the next afternoon, I had started my Sassy Aspie Mom blog. I had figured out Twitter and Facebook and Blogger and posted 3 things. For the first time in a very long time, I felt alive. Don’t tell my husband this, but he was right!

Writing has been a way for me to stay connected to those around me, especially parents going through similar life experiences. Being the parent of a child with Autism can be very lonely. You learn very early on that your child’s accomplishments and goals are going to be different, and that is okay. It isn’t easy, however, to fit into the conversations of the parents around you. It can be isolating. I found that by writing my blog, I suddenly opened my world to a group of people with the same hopes and dreams for their children, but who also understood the stresses and concerns of raising a child on the spectrum. Suddenly, I found that people were reaching out to me to find out how I handled certain situations…the initial diagnosis, school, medications, bullying, telling the child about their diagnosis. I was able to help in small ways to make those parents feel less lonely, less scared, and less isolated, by talking about my own experience. The feeling was mutual.

As parents of children on the spectrum, it is really important to remember that we have to have our own lifelines. Talking to others, reading a book, taking a walk, getting a massage, journaling, writing a blog…whatever brings you back to center, has to be part of your routine or you will lose yourself. It is not selfish, it is essential to a life full of taking care of others.