What Fridays Look Like For Me Now
This was such a pinnacle year in our life as a family, as well as a TNT team. This was the year all of our kids would (finally!!!) be in school all five days of the week. For fourteen years, I had juggled the whole working-mom-stays-home-and-works-crazy-hours thing, paying babysitters, tag-teaming with Tim as to who would work what shift… and finally, finally, the day that I had dreamed of had arrived: 8:15am on the first day of school, out they all went tumbling out of the van, toting backpacks and blowing kisses… and I was FREE! Free to run errands, free to research our next business plan and project, free to work on our books and accounts during the day so I could be home in the afternoons and evenings. It was looking so.good.
But then I got a call that changed our lives forever.
The caller asked if we would consider fostering a four year old little boy with the hope of getting him back to his parents. This little boy had never been in school, and struggled with any type of structured activity, usually ending in a tantrum over anything he did not want to do. Three days of preschool would be a total stretch for him, if we could even get him to behave enough to stay enrolled. So many Ifs and Unknowns.
But something in my heart jumped to life, and began turning the wheels of my mind, determined to make things work. We were petrified, for sure: we had only become certified foster parents with the intention of adopting two kids, but we had been waiting so long for our Forever Kids, we were asking God if there was something we were missing. His response to our prayers seemed to be sending this little guy. We agreed to meet him, scared to death and exhilaratingly hopeful at the same time.
It was love at first sight. The blind kind of love, that turns its eye from misbehaving and focuses solely on the light inside of sparkly eyes. The sweet kind of love, that forgives the million transgressions from lack of teaching and instead looks at the potential at What Could Be. That crazy kind of love.
Within a few days, we moved in our beautiful new baby boy and began adjusting to a New Normal. The word Exhausting does not fully explain how we felt at first. This little boy feared and hated bedtime with a passion, struggled with nightmares and threw the tantrums to vent his emotions. Even at 3am. Watching our children open up their lives to embrace another human being gave peace to the panic I felt at the havoc our New Life had brought. We were foster parents. What?!
Probably the next hurdle I had to overcome was my work load. Our team had known about our intentions to adopt for quite some time, and had been fully supportive from the get-go. When we had to dash out the door for foster parent classes, they would stay late to deliver the customer vehicle, or work overtime to make sure the last car was finished, never once complaining. But foster parenting had never occurred to me, so how could I be prepared for something I never thought of?
Not so for our team. They rallied around us with a kindness I could barely receive in my exhausted mental and emotional condition. They high-fived that little guy and texted encouraging prayers on the days I had to leave work early to run to the school for tantrum control when he found out it wasn’t his turn to be the helper.
I cannot tell a lie: I grieved a little. Maybe a lot? Who knows? Grief is grief, and the ones experiencing it cannot measure its depth. I grieved over the life I had just begun, where I could think in uninterrupted silence as I drove to errands alone. I wrestled with guilt that no, actually, I would not be grocery shopping by myself any time soon. Matter of fact, I would be accompanied by a child that I had just met, who did not know that rolling on the floor in the aisles at Walmart is not socially acceptable. Sometimes, not often, I cried a little. Many times, I prayed. For strength, for courage, for direction, for endurance. And if I ever heard God speak, whenever He would reply, it was always the same words: “How far would you go to save a life?”
Things got easier, and we did laugh a lot during those months, even if it was through tears. School stopped calling as much, and we started getting “green faces” on our Daily Report, which means we behaved all day. I pulled a few late nights at the office, tag-teaming with Tim to switch with me at home, and slowly, slowly, I was able to get my head above water.
Fridays are the day we have to go to Roanoke to visit Mom and Dad, which means I have 4 hours to wait in the city before we can come home. Last week, our beloved Mobile Estimator started acting up as I was running Roanoke errands during his visit. Tim actually came and rescued me in the tow truck, and we all rode home together, thinking the coil pack would have to be replaced. Well, if you know anything about Murphy’s Laws in Body Shops, it’s that team vehicles go to the end of the list, with option to repeatedly get bumped down the line. So it rings true with the Mobile Estimator: this Friday rolled around, and it occurred to me that I did not have enough vehicles for the directions our family needed to go today.
The only reason it occurred to me is that while I was analyzing reports at my desk, the phone rang at my faithful-assistant-virtually-daughter-status’ desk. It was our faithful-manager-downstairs-virtually-daughter-as-well on the other end, and they were asking each other who was picking up the kids from school, (and by “the kids”, they are talking about MY other four) and which vehicle needs to be taken. Before I could reach full panic mode at the realization that I was incapable of changing coil packs, never mind in the 45minutes before I was supposed to leave to get my little buddy for Roanoke, I hear footsteps coming up to our office. In walks downstairs daughter with keys in hand, smiling and explaining that we have an available rental not going out this weekend, so take this vehicle and upstairs daughter will be picking up the other four kids and bringing them home.
I grab the keys and start packing up, practicing accepting Grace that is so freely given to me daily, and I blink back tears as I collect my laptop and charger, knowing a little boy that needs to watch movies on the drive so he does not get too nervous for his visit. As I walk out of the shop, every technician I pass waves good bye, wishes me good luck, and promises to work on the Mobile Estimator while I am gone.
I start loading up the car in the parking lot, and Tim meets me out there with the flowers I had bought for our buddy to take to his mom. She mentioned to me once before a court hearing that they keep her going on her lonely, harder days, so we just keep bringing them. I run back to the Transit to grab some DVDs, and we laugh because these are the “necessary” things that we “need” in order to help our little guy. Any of my other kids when they were five? Ha! We would’ve said too bad, so sad, let’s go. But that’s the thing about crazy love: you can see when someone is hurting, and you fix it if you can. And with a team like the one I have behind me? I feel like I can conquer the world.
So here I sit in Roanoke, at a coffee shop with a Cinnamon Roll muffin and a Breve Latte. My errands are done, and I only have to log in to the WiFi to keep working on my latest project. It’s a hard life, I tell ya.
Fridays are not what I ever envisioned they would be, not even at the beginning of this school year. And if I have learned anything about Life, I know it will not always be like this, even our New Normal. It will change. Our kids keep growing, our business keeps going, and I just keep holding on for the ride, trusting that The One Who Has the Plan will let me know when my next marching orders are coming up. By faith, I watch Him provide everything I need, even when I don’t even remember I had a need, He sends others to fill it before I even realize there could have been a lack.
Someone once said, “If you can give it up, you can have it all.” And today, even on this crazy Friday, I see that this rings true.
Happy Friday, y’all.