We Started from the Bottom

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828 E 16th St

“Mom, you drew this perfect.  Is this our backyard?”

Knox was holding up an old watercolor I’d done of the very first house Koby and I lived in when we got married.  It was a teeny, tiny blue shack right next to the railroad tracks, complete with carpet in the kitchen, loud neighbors this-close-to-our-bedroom-window (which would have ice on the inside of the glass on cold mornings), and nonexistent cell phone service.  Guests politely held their tongues, and we were happy to live there together.

I laughed because I realized he thought it was a picture of the sun-room addition at our new house.  And then I laughed harder because I thought, “Are they about the same size?”

We wanted to start out at the very bottom (as told by kids who grew up in middle-class America); we wanted to relish in and soak up those first few years of marriage that the veterans reminisce about so fondly.  Cereal for dinner, date nights that consist of nothing more than a walk to the park, skipping on the cable, actually using the library…  All of this is super sentimental, especially when you fully expect that in 5-10 years you’ll be laughing about those ‘remember when’ moments in the living room of the perfectly-decorated home that you own on a safe, tree-lined street.

And for this fable to be fully complete (at least in my head), we had to do it all alone.  Me and him against the world.  Aren’t we (in America) conditioned to have this “by my own bootstraps” attitude?  I wanted the struggle; I wanted the reward of comfort and accomplishment.  And I wanted to do it all alone.  To know we’d done it, just us.

It’s all about pride.  So much pride.

And so today, I was balancing stay-at-home-mom (are the kids fed? have we played today? why does he smell like that?) with work-at-home-mom (deadline deadline deadline… more edits), thinking about the fact that I hadn’t showered since… Wednesday? and picking up things around the house I’d pretended weren’t there for days, when Knox showed me that old watercolor painting.

And in a moment I realized… it’s been five years.  We started from the bottom.  But now, I am in a beautiful house that we own, with a fantastic yard that has tall pecan trees, in a safe neighborhood. I spend every day at home with my children, my house is (half) decorated (when in doubt, throw a wreath on it), and my sun-room might be almost as big as my first house.

Y’all, but getting here.  I would not change it for the world, and we didn’t do any of it alone.

We would not be able to pay for Hayes’ seizure medication each month were it not for a charity founded to help children with rare disorders.  You might be embarrassed for me to share that with you.  But I want to tell everyone how good God is, and how good it is when people go about His business.  We would not be able to pay for Hayes’ medical bills if our community, friends, and family, had not rallied around us and said “We will help.”  We both work hard every [ugh] day, but we wouldn’t own this house without the help of family.

This is not what I wanted.

We wanted to struggle and come out on top, with no one to thank but our own gritty selves.

This is so much better.

Of course, there isn’t a day I don’t wish Hayes could do what typically-developed kids can do.  We have dreams about him running and talking; that heartbreak will always be there, a little bit.

But what a beautiful story his presence is in our lives – how our lives have changed because of it!  I believe in a God of Restoration, and I am so thankful for the people who go about that business; I am thankful that I’ve seen so many people choose to build, help, and restore.  And I want to be like y’all.

I think about what I wanted (when I knew even less than I know now), and I recall yesterday at the park.  My son, in no uncertain terms, told me that he needed to use the restroom.  But he was playing so nicely with friends, and I was getting to talk to an adult (emphasis on that last part), that when I asked him if it was an emergency, I trusted his judgment when he said no.  (Really, I was giving him what he wanted because it suited me in the moment.  Yeeeeeeees, I know.)

I am so glad I’m not the god.  I am so glad God has given us what we need, and not just what we want.*

*Because if he gave us what we wanted we might crap our pants a little bit.  Wait… was that not the point?

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