A Day for the Picking of Strawberries
Because they bruise so easily, cooler days when the sun isn't beating down on their tender skins can be some of the best days for picking strawberries. With one full day of family time together before Josh was back on a flight to Atlanta, strawberry picking seemed a good family activity for the day. Opportunistic for the photographer in me.
That was the after nap time plan. The pre-nap plan was a scheduled monthly visit from our social workers. Kids tromped around in cardboard created cabooses and steam engines, while the four adults caught up on how said kids were doing.
The calm, ripe, good times in this adoption timeline feel just like those strawberries. Highly anticipated, sweet beyond words, and so easily bruised. I'm not really ever surprised at bumps and bangs in the process. Not anymore. That doesn't mean I see them coming. And they always leave me a little sore.
On days like this when the news is of the sort we wish we could 'decline', I have to turn my back from the kids while I wash my hands or busy myself at the kitchen sink. I collect myself with a deep, silent breath. There is so much going on. There is so much going on. So much, I think, of which the kids are completely unaware. They think I'm rinsing plates. But really, I'm stealing a moment to pause and process without them seeing the sadness, frustration, or pain that worries across my face.
There have been dozens upon dozens of these instances where in the middle of the mundane, I get a phone call or an email, and we have to carry on. I wish I could be more explicit. If you're a foster parent, you'll understand. Phone calls that warn you of impending court dates and trials, which might or might not determine how long or even if these children that you love so dearly will remain in your care. Updates of information about the people with whom they are intimately connected, that you simply don't know how to sit with. Texts from individuals that shake you, that you can't share with anyone, that affect the tiny, beautiful little face that smiles up at you and calls you 'mommy'.
After talking about the kids, the social worker informed us of a recent stall in the system that will leave us without answers for several months. Answers that we already thought we had, but must now wait for again. Hope for. Again. Have I mentioned that I'm not great at waiting? Concurrent care involves the worst kind of this: The kind of waiting that changes everything and nothing at the same time.
The days have come and will continue to pass where I will say: for you, I would wait this long and more. For you, my darling children, we can and will endure. For you: Anything.
And this is what it looks like: Though our timeline is once again fractured and undefined, we grab our buckets and pails and step with brave smiles into the strawberry patch. We never stop behaving like a family, because that is what we are.
We are exactly what the Holy Spirit has told us to be obedient to: His love in us. Our love for one another.
When we later can our first ever batch of family made strawberry jam I will beam with pride. Josh and I will navigate bedtime, close doors on precious sleepy faces, and openly welcome that satisfaction which comes at day's end; life done together well. Later still, I'll hold a warm, ruby jar in hand and place it on a pantry shelf with a pause. When this jar is opened, where will we be then?
Will I remember the story sealed inside; of a day when the journey got a little bit harder and we didn't stop trying. Will we get a taste, completely forgetting of the bitterness that we fought through to make something so sweet?