I can't believe how quickly August seemed to fly by. We've had a whirlwind of a month- we traveled with Michael for work, found out we are moving, made a weekend trip to check out our new town, and watched our little guy turn 9 months old! (update post to come!) With all that's been on my mind, I've been a little uninspired and distracted here on the blog. Jenni's Blogtember challenge came at just the right time and I'm excited to participate!
Starting off this week? Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.
Do you ever wonder how different your life would be if one little detail of the past would have been different? Fifty-five years ago, a little boy was born. He was a twin, and the only one of the two born deaf. When he was young, he went to live with his aunt and attended and graduated from a state boarding school for the Deaf and Blind. While two of his brothers joined the military, he was unable and instead went to community college for a trade skill.
Six years after this boy was born, a girl was born in a completely different town, to a completely different set of parents. This girl was hearing, went to the local public school, attended college and pursued nursing. Somewhere along the line, she thought about joining the Air Force and getting her pilot's license, but a sprained ankle got in the way of finishing lessons.
At a pivotal moment in their lives, this girl and guy, with not a lot in common but a mutual friend....met. And dated. And got married. And decided to have a family, my sister and I.
There's a lot more to the story than that, but I can't help but always think about the tiny details that played into their meeting and falling in love. Had my dad not been born deaf, his entire life would have looked different. He might have joined the military with his brothers. He might have met someone else. Had my mom decided to join the Air Force, she and my dad might never have met.
But despite all those details that with one shift could have changed everything, they did meet. And who they are and what they came from meshed into one, and a family, that included me, was born.
As Michael, Noah, and I prepare to head back to Virginia this coming weekend for a visit with our families, I can't help but be excited to be home again. Every time I'm there and walk through the door, I'm flooded with memories of my family and childhood.
I remember, for instance, the day we moved in. There was furniture everywhere and my six year old self thought it was cool to climb from chair to chair, or watch tv in a packed room. We had moved from an acre lot in the city, to five acres in the country with room enough for our new swing set.
I remember when I was eight and played t-ball on our local rec team. My dad would practice with me several nights a week. I have fond memories of throwing the ball back and forth for what felt like hours until it got too dark or dinner was ready. I usually got stuck out in the field and ended up running from bees, but I was always cheered on by my family nonetheless.
I remember when I was ten, getting ready for church in the morning. My dad worked most Sundays, so it was just us girls getting up, getting our dresses on, and hopping in our mini-van, decked out with an "SCLBUS" license plate. I remember sitting in those pews almost every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We sang out of red hymnals as a single piano played and I made sure my skirt wasn't too far above my knees when the song leader said, "You may be seated".
I remember when I was thirteen, and had my first boyfriend. I wasn't really allowed to date, but through some weird circumstances, my mom was convinced. It lasted three months, was pretty regulated, and helped me realize years later just how immature I was at that age. My mom was still in what my sister and I refer to as her "strict stage", and we pretty much conformed to the legalistic, ultra-conservative Christian lifestyle. It wasn't as terrible as it sounds, but when my mom finally "saw the Light", we were allowed to listen to Christian music with drums, and if you ask some people in that same church, it all went "downhill" from there.
I remember seeing Jesus in my mom, and in her heart to teach and guide us. We were home-schooled and some days went as smoothly as she had planned and others I'm sure made her want to lock herself in her bedroom and give up. Our school room is now used as a guest room, but I remember the exact layout, our desks, her desk, the chalkboards, and the shelves where we proudly displayed our textbooks and notebooks.
I remember being home alone with my sister and arguing over the remote to the extent of physical brawls with each other. Most of the reasons we got in trouble when we were younger had to do with fighting with each other.
I remember when I was sixteen and my parents volunteered to coach our home-school varsity basketball team. We did most practices and games as a family. It was an interesting dynamic. They both got pretty passionate about the game, and my mom had to help coach and interpret what my dad was coaching at the same time. My dad is easy to communicate with even if you don't know sign language, and by the middle of the season, he was pretty effective at getting his point across without my mom's help.
I remember when I was eighteen and being dropped off at college five hours away. My dad, mom, and sister took me and I cried for hours after they left. Later I found out they did the same. Our family dynamics had been inevitably changing, but changed quickly after that. Independence bore wings and one by one, my sister and I eventually left home for school. There were days when we all kept in touch consistently, and other days when things were tough and you knew that the comfort of calling home would only make your loneliness that much more vivid.
I remember instances where I began to see my parents through a different lens. We began to bond on a deeper level and over time, and through circumstances, they became more than my parents, but my friends. My sister and I, after years of living the same life, began living our own, different lives. And we grew in those moments, together and independently, closer and apart and closer again, with a deeper respect and admiration for the other's life and choices.
I remember when we used to be a family unit of four. I remember watching as my sister walked down the aisle to the love of her life, opening a door to a new family -their family- and tweaking the dynamic just a bit more. I remember, later, walking the same road to my high school sweetheart and vowing to a new family- my family- while adjusting to the shifts I, too, had again created.
People too often want to compare you to someone else. "He got that from...", or "She is just like her...". And while I absolutely think that we often mimic behavior we're shown and carry traits with us, I also think it's not that simple. I think who we are is largely shaped by our experiences and memories, and how we respond to them, and how they shift us. The good ones and the not so good ones. How we are taught to handle what comes our way. How we perceive the world based on how our world treated us. The quirky family traditions, or the challenges we faced.
I remember the first holiday meal I had with my family after Michael and I had been married. Everyone was there. And I looked around at my family scattered around the living room, the six of us, the three families, and the one big one, and things just kind of came into focus. I saw my life in my parent's house fade in and out of different scenes taking place in the same room. I remembered these moments with my family, through our different stages and dynamics, how it has influenced the person I am now, and I realized how thankful I am that God works in the tiniest of details.