Remember my friend, Heather? The totally tough cookie who, last summer, took on the back surgery from Hell. I thought then that I'd never see her be more brave.
This summer, Heather did what she swore she'd always do. She became a mom. In the 16 years I've known her, I'd heard her say countless times, "One day, I'm going to adopt a child". At first it was, "When I'm 30." Then it became... "When I'm 32... When I'm 33... When I'm 35." And so on and so forth.
It's not really that we ever doubted her. When Heather sets her mind to something, there's no turning back. Many a misbehaving camper or student can verify this fact. It was just a matter of when she'd finally set her mind.
Then, after she was healed from her backtastrophe, one night she mentioned, "I'm taking some foster care classes. I'm ready to be a mom." Right there, as casually as some people order a latte. And we all caught one another's eye, gave a little smile, and made the preparations to increase our tribe by one more. Her mind was set.
First there were visits and respite opportunities for some kids in the foster system. And she fell a little in love. There were more visits, and she fell a little more in love. But these kids weren't going to be her kid. Then there came a photo. A little black and white copy of an angelic 4 year old face. By the time she showed us his picture, it had been folded and unfolded and re-folded so often, I thought it would fall apart in my hands.
This is how I knew that my dear friend was ready to be a mom.
It's been about six weeks since we hustled through her adoption shower so she could go pick him up that very night. Six weeks since he ran into her arms, ready to climb into her car and just "Go HOME!". I've met him 3 times, and each time I am amazed. Not just at how adorable he is (although he's so very adorable). Not just at how funny he is (and he is quite funny). Not just at how energetic he is (and, my Lord, he could power the entire city of Fort Worth with that energy). Not even that she's doing this on her own (because there's very little in this world that Heather can't handle). But that my friend... my funny, sarcastic, hard-rock loving, swear like a mother-effin' sailor, bad-ass friend... is, in fact, somebody's mom.
In my heart, I knew that this was how it would go, but in my head, I could just never really picture it. Heather. With a car seat. Listening to Radio Disney. Installing a potty seat. Planning menus. But she is.
So. Effing. Weird. Dude.
We had lunch today, just the two of us. It was nice, and it was necessary. Day care is important not just for her son but also for her sanity. We talked for a long time about the struggles she faces daily. Not just the regular ol' 4 year old struggles, but those that she inherited from the a-holes who had him before. Not just the cleaning up of the normal hard-playing bumps and bruises but also the scars and the worries and the fears that he carries inside. Both those that she knows of and those which no one knows. Not just the fact that she has a child but also the fact that she woke up one day as a single girl who answers to no one and the next day, another human was living in her house. A human that gets up early, likes chicken nuggets, and does not have an "off" switch.
There's simply no class to prepare you for that kind of culture shock.
And my dear, funny, sarcastic friend takes each moment, mostly all on her own, and lives it. When it's a struggle, she reminds herself that "He is four. We've known each other six weeks. This will pass." And then he smiles at her, that angelic 4 year old smile that made her unfold and re-fold that picture a thousand times, and she finds her breath for the next obstacle.
This is how I knew that my dear friend was already a great mom. A totally bad ass mom who is changing a life day by day. And there's no class to teach you that either.
I'm so proud of you, friend. So un-flipping-believably proud of you.