Monday, November 28, 2016

Giving Tuesday and my sordid past.

I have a confession to make. I have lived in four different houses now that all belong to a Homeowners' Association -- four houses over eleven years. So maybe that 11 is the important number here...I have um, paid HOA dues for 11 years. And yet -- I am grimacing because this is the confession part -- I have never been to an HOA meeting. Never.

I know. I know. The first HOA made me mad. We were barely moved in before we were doing things wrong. We failed to roll the garbage can up fast enough the week Little Red was born. Oh I am sorry, I was busy having a baby. So I wasn't that interested in their meetings.

Outside our first HOA home....

But the second house was going to be different. I was determined to be an active member. I was looking forward to meeting my neighbors through the meetings. I was eager. But we were barely moved in when Mason had his very big, super horrible, mostly terrible surgery that involved more than 13 incisions, a full leg cast, and setbacks for my very independent 13 year old who all of a sudden couldn't be. Three months of casting, followed by intense therapy, TWO subsequent leg breaks before Christmas and I couldn't even remember the name of our neighborhood most days, much less attend an HOA meeting and offer anything valuable. 

Mason's surgical recovery -- in our second HOA home.

To be fair, the third HOA never had a meeting that we knew of in the year we lived in the house. So it wasn't completely my fault.

But having said all of that, you might understand my trepidation when the welcoming neighbors to our new home reminded us that the previous owner had been the HOA President. Ah, wow. Oh that is fabulous, all came out of my mouth. But I was biting my tongue not to confess my entire sordid HOA past and beg them to love us anyway.

A few days later, the first episode of Speechless aired. Oh please tell me you have been watching! In the first episode, the family moves to a new neighborhood with the promise of THE right school for J.J. who has Cerebral Palsy. One of the subplots of the episode revolves around the sister and the dad trying to set the stage for the neighbors....they are trying to cut themselves off basically from friendship because they will, in their words, always have the worst yard, the worst-kept house and will never be a part of neighborhood socials.

Oh boy did it resonate. I was cheering. I was asking for copies of the show so that I could just send them in my absence to all future HOA meetings. And though I was laughing at their antics, in my heart I was applauding a show that spoke to my darkest fears and innermost feelings and screamed with the voice of Minnie Driver that I am not alone. Even if it is exaggerated. Even if there is an entire comedic side -- the issues are real. And that one episode provided a stamp of validation that I didn't even realize I needed.

Tonight I am writing because one of my favorite organizations is responsible for ensuring that Speechless gets the issues right. Cerebral Palsy Foundation works alongside the writers, the actors, and the entire team to ensure the show is covering issues that really affect families whose lives are colored by Cerebral Palsy. It is more than entertainment -- it is education, it is advocacy and it is a glimpse into our world and into our lives.

So on this Giving Tuesday, I am asking you to support a mission to change the way the world sees Cerebral Palsy. For every dollar you give to CPF, they will match it up to $100,000.  So your one dollar becomes TWO!  Will you join the work to help provide medical interventions, access to critical information, and a new vision for people with disabilities?

And in the meantime, I will be over here secretly thrilled that now, every time I have to demand access for my boys, my children say "Ooh, Mom, you went all Minnie Driver on them!" It sounds so much better than "Ooh Mom, you went a little crazy there." Right?

Between moving from our third HOA home to our fourth....

Thanks, dear ones! I'm so grateful to y'all that I might try to make an HOA meeting this year....or you know, maybe not! 😉

Carol - The Blessings Counter