Finally, on Sunday June 18 at 3:00pm, my kids had lunch, I had an iced coffee, and I was back at the house to take stock of this chaotic day.
I knew I needed to find an auto store to buy some coolant, but first I decided to take a break and try to let the car “cool off”—not easy on a day that is 103.
I looked around my new empty house, swaying slightly from fatigue and a powerful feeling of “where do I start?” and took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay. Okay!”
It was a pep talk I gave myself several times over the next few hours as I made trip after trip in and out of the u-haul, lugging in back-breaking boxes, reminding myself to “lift with your legs, not with your back.”
After about an hour, all I had left was our TV display stand; it was way too heavy for me lift on my own but I scooted it towards the entrance of the trailer, wondering to myself if I could slide it bit by bit towards the house without seriously damaging the legs.
But, I didn’t have to. An across the street neighbor saw me attempting to do the impossible and asked if he could help. He ended up carrying it in the house for me and that was that.
Now, to take care of the car…and find a grocery store because I had NO food in the house and 4 kids who would need breakfast in the morning. And dinner tonight…it was already past 5pm.
Okay. Okay. Okay!
We loaded up, heat blasting, and found an Advance Auto.
A woman greeted us and I poured out my whole day to her. She took one look at my red, sweaty face and fly-away messy bun and four sweaty boys and took charge.
First she grabbed three water bottles from a small fridge beside the cash register and gave them to us.
Next, she checked all my fluids, filled up my empty…something…with coolant (radiator? I have no clue. I needed major help here, folks) and put a quart and a half of oil in too.
And she talked to me. She was a mom too, a down-right kind, down-to-earth mom who knew about all the schools and all the pools and all the grocery stores in San Angelo.
We left Advance Auto significantly cooler, rehydrated, with the car fixed, and my heart soothed. And my wallet was only $26 lighter (the water bottles? On the house).
I rarely take all 4 kids grocery shopping because, well, it’s CRAZY, but I gave one heck of a pep talk to my boys (another pep talk to myself), and braved the grocery store, sans any sort of list, and stocked up on essentials for the next hour.
We got back to the house (home?) and I fed my kids rotisserie chicken, microwave mashed potatoes, and green salad at 8pm.
Then we all crashed on our air mattresses for the night, more than eager to see Aaron who would be arriving the next evening.
Our separation would finally be over and we would begin our new life together as an Air Force family.
I chose to write this four part series because I didn’t want to forget the significant transition of these five days. Sure, they just tell the story of our move, but, for me, this journey also signifies a huge change in my life, and not just the fact that we moved from Virginia to Texas, or that Aaron graduated from Officer Training School.
Yes, we changed our life, but I know that I am different now too. These last two months of solo parenting, and these five days of moving, have changed me.
They have overwhelmed me and strengthened me. They showed me that, Okay! I have to do it myself, no matter what “it” may be.
They also showed me that help is usually only a prayer away, and may be found in the most unlikely of places, like across the street, or in the kindness of an Advance Auto worker on a scorchingly hot Sunday afternoon.
When you change your life, you learn a lot about yourself.
I’ve grown up a lot in these last few months, because I had to, because I needed to. And I learned that I’m capable of a lot more than I thought I was.