Friday, June 16, was Aaron’s graduation.
And Saturday? It was officially “Move to Texas Day,” at least for me and the kids. Aaron flew back to VA early Saturday morning to pack up our moving truck and drive it to Texas. I did not envy him.
Of course, I had a huge drive ahead of me as well.
The GPS said 8 hours to Dallas, where we were going to spend the night.
That was wishful thinking.
Speaking of wishes, my wonderful babysitter/friend Savannah (who was still with me! Thank God!) and I were delirious enough at 2:22pm to make a wish.
We ticked down the miles on my Waze app and ticked down the minutes to 2:22 and then wished!
Later that evening we confessed our wishes to each other: Mine, that we could eat at Panera for dinner. Hers, that we would get to the hotel before dark.
Neither one came true.
But, after white-knuckling it through Dallas traffic (holy crap! That was intense!) we survived another 13 hour day in the car with 4 kids and a dog and arrived at a swanky hotel (Aaron utilized our military discount; plus, they were one of the only hotels to allow dogs).
We finally got everyone to bed around 11pm and passed out ourselves. Under my intense exhaustion, I was feeling a bit melancholy because Savannah was leaving very early in the morning to catch a tram to the airport.
I was making the last leg of our journey alone.
We said a tender farewell at 5:30am. I adored having her with me. We had such wonderful conversation about life, marriage, books, nursing, kids, and whatever else came up (bicycles! Plastic bins on the highway!). I will always treasure the time I had with her on this trip, and in the last 4 years since she was a freshman in my Biblical Worldview class.
(Thank you, Savannah! I love you!).
Here is a huge, life truth: taking care of kids is 100% easier when you have a partner. That morning, I felt the full imbalance of being the only adult vs. four kids.
I managed to get them breakfast without anyone breaking a dish (remember, swanky hotel. I was sorely missing the disposable plates at the Hampton Inn), and got all our stuff loaded up from the room.
All we had to do was check out and get in the car.
Here I was, loaded down with bags (because I could NOT make two trips: only adult, remember?), chasing after my two year old who only has one speed (“run!”), and begging Micah (9) to “please keep ahold of the dog!!”
We made it to the front desk but Gus saw some other dog patrons and went bizerk. He yanked out of Micah’s hand and ran after the other dogs, barking madly. The other dogs flipped out and, for a few terrible moment, it was a barking madhouse. All the while I am yelling at the dog, yelling at my son to grab the leash, and trying to keep my two year old and personal sanity from running away from me.
And to top it off, this older couple, who was checking out in front of us, gave me the worst stink eye ever.
I was already completely humiliated and didn’t want to sink any lower in my personal estimation at this horrible moment by saying something rude. But as soon as they left, I marched up to the counter and stated in my most dignified, icy tone, “I need to check out now please.”
Thank God a hotel worker came to my rescue in the moment and held onto the manic dog. She was very kind and walked the dog across the huge parking lot and didn’t leave until I had all the kids buckled into the car.
“Do you need anything else?” She asked, assessing the situation as bags fell out of the back of the car and my two year old arched out of the car seat, wailing loudly. The dog was whining as loudly as Eli, and my twins were already arguing about who go to choose the first DVD to watch.
“No, I think I’ve got it.” I said, thanking her profusely and praying Dear God, help me through this day.
We finally got on the road and drove 4.5 hours straight to San Angelo, TX: Our new home.
Our landlord had already emailed me the key code for the door so, when we pulled up to our new house at 12:30pm, we were able to go right into the house.
We hadn’t even had lunch yet but we were so excited to be there that I started unpacking the car and U-haul right away. I towed a 4×8 trailer all the way from VA with essentials like air mattresses, clothes, toys, and most of the kitchen stuff. I was determined to make this new house feel like home for my kids as soon as possible.
These things take time though and our day was completely off. We live and die by a schedule but by the time our landlady came over to welcome us and request that I fill out paper work (“now?” “If you don’t mind…”), it was 2:45pm before I was able to pile my weeping, starving children into the car to try and find a McDonalds.
And that’s when I saw it: My heat indicator on the dash of the car was in the red zone. No, no, no, no no no no…!
I tried not to panic. First things first. Food. We need food. The kids are melting down.
I powered down the windows and turned on the heater.
It was 103 degrees that afternoon in San Angelo TX, but it worked. The needle inched away from the Red Zone, but only as long as I had the heater on full blast.
We found the McDonalds and ordered in the drive through, but as I pulled up to pay, I realized that my wallet was on the counter at the house (stupid rent forms that asked for my stupid drivers license number!).
Apologizing profusely to my poor kids and to the McDonalds attendant, I drove home, heat blasting me as sweat poured down my back, praying that the car wouldn’t die in the middle of this new city where I was completely alone.
I fought tears all the way back to the house. I need help.
But there was no one to help, not today. There was just…Me.