What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time (yesterday), I was counting down the hours, playing it cool with the kids trying not to let the cat out of the bag that THIS DAY would END our season of Daddi-O “away” in prison. No more weekend visits, patdowns, metal detectors, long and hot lines, crappy vending machine food, games of UNO (although UNO is enjoyable…), teary good-byes and collect phone calls. Hallelujah, our 7 years was OVER. We were ALL ready, willing and able to slam that chapter shut and file it away, preferrable under a tree somewhere and move ON!! And move on, we did. I’ve mentioned it several times along the way in my blog, such as HERE and HERE (where I forward you on to my interview with the amazing and gracious Pat Gohn @ Among Women), but generally I don’t dwell on it. It was a difficult period in our life, in which we choose not to let define WHO we are but rather how we move on in spite of it. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. And we are ALL one step from prison, believe me, it only takes ONE mistake to completely change your life, if you think you are immune, I can only say “Dream on”. We are all sinners and one mistake can easily change the course of your life. However, now I’m getting off track!
We marked the day quietly with (if I do say so myself) amazingly awesome, homemade double chocolate chip cookies after dinner. And I’ve reflected on the past year, in awe. Obviously many changes have occurred, and strangely enough, many things haven’t even changed. God is good!
- Having Dad in the house has HUGELY altered attitudes and hearts in a precious way. Our oldest son, who had automatically assumed “man of the house” role (despite encouragement to ‘be a kid’) relinquished that role back to Dad. He still pipes in at times where he needs to zip it, however, it’s an ongoing lesson for ALL in “Minding your own business 101″. His smile is back and peace has returned. My heart swells.
- Youngest son has blossomed from the simmering and sometimes explosive temper to the French Horn playing prodigy. (OK, maybe not prodigy, but for the kid’s first effort @ a musical instrument, he’s had a phenomenal year) He’s excelled in school. The temper has tempered (still rising occasionally, but more expected than unexpected). He’s a focused kid, whether on Xbox with his friends or deciding he’s going to play an instrument, qualify for fitness team or Wow his teachers (and we had a phone call from his extremely impressed math teacher just the other night).
- Our people pleaser, oldest daughter has begun to emerge from her pleasing shell. Ready to condition for soccer. More confident in her leadership abilities. Harnessing that confidence at school and at home. Enjoying the attention from Dad. The obvious security he brings to her life has brought her more calm and less frantic. She is a nurturer and that love and sweetness spills out, not only to our family but to little kids everywhere.
- Our youngest. Though she has had the biggest battle with sharing Mom with Dad, she has made great strides. Quality time with Dad, has helped her to slowly but surely work on her self-control. As the youngest, I think she’ll always have that “Diva” in her, however, she is methodically bringing that personality trait under control. She has found her natural athletic ability a great fit for outdoors-loving Dad and they enjoy kayaking (she’s a great paddler) together.
- I’ve had to re-learn to not employ the ENTIRE bed to myself but to use “my side”. A year later, I’m still working on it.
- I’ve had to learn how to share the burdens of parenting, finances and household chores when I’ve been used to doing it solo. My way. That wasn’t so much fun sometimes, but it’s a lovely treat to no longer have to deal with the yard work. The house has been painted and looks fabulous. Our finances are more well-organized. Parenting is more consistent since we can tag-team and I am not as easily worn down by incessant begging.
- We’ve had to rework the seating chart @ Mass. The presence of Dad @ Mass is a huge impact on two boys who are quickly getting to the age of “WHY do we go to Church? It’s boring. It’s all old people (true in our area). ” Learning by their Mom AND Dad’s example will do more for their Faith than me alone.
- A therapist told me before Hubby came home that it will take 90 days for him to acclimate to a non-institutionalized life. I’d say that was about right. It took most of the summer for him to acclimate to life at home and all the changes over the past 7 years, technology wise, etc.
- The same therapist told me it would be about a year before he and WE would return to “normal”. I’d say things are great. At this one year point, we’ve truly hit our stride. I don’t know what “normal” is, but for our family, we are doing alright.
Life isn’t perfect. But God is. And He is good. There is no doubt our family is a miraculous testament to His goodness and mercy in carrying us through these past 7 years, providing for us and giving us hope when the world would tell us it’s a lost cause and we are wasting our time. When I could physically see that roughly 200-300 men out of 1300 incarerated regularly receive visitors, I can more fully understand why we have such a problem with recidivisim. Where there is no love, there is hell. There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18) Praise God for His example of love, His love brought us out of our season of darkness and into this new season of growth.
We’ll still navigate these learning curves of two people in the kitchen….urgh!!….old people kissing and hugging OPENLY…..they’ll get over it….Life isn’t perfect. But it’s what we do with what we are given. For us….we’re making the best of today in hopes of a better tomorrow.
I missed a day of blogging, but these peeps might not have…still a few more days in May…go check ’em out!