The best news ever reveals the biggest reason to why you haven’t received a post in the weekly manner of which you’ve grown accustomed. We’ve stayed in various churches of a three month course, weathering week-long mournings, three-day weddings, bathrooms shared with as many as twenty people (and one shower), and meals created for us every night. Sometimes the food had to be experimental leftover creations, but the gamble was well worth the golden nugget of a meal that never failed to surprise us. Even still, we didn’t fit in; we used napkins, said “please and thank you,” and cleaned up after ourselves. Unfortunately, when one family grows accustomed to this behavior it makes blending with other homeless families crushing. I’m certain they felt the same way about us. Parents who call their kids names and casually smack them in the head proves incredibly testing to witness without saying anything.
But, minding your own business in such situations is a survival tactic. Our family kept to ourselves except during dinner where everyone convened in one dining area. The hosts and food donating individuals were a godsend with patience and kindness beyond belief. Two designated hosts would remain through the night, leaving when time to leave at 7:00 a.m. Another couple arrived at 5:00 p.m., when the families returned, the meal was brought by yet another group at 6:30 p.m., and following cleanup the night team arrived. On a weekend, staff remained in shifts; some would keep to themselves, while others crawled on the floor with children or played board games with families. But each church had its own personality. Nevertheless, all of them had dedication too awesome to imagine.
Some of the other families came from places where defecating in the waste basket and urinating in the toy box are acceptable practices—only worth mentioning if caught in the act. Not somewhere you’d choose to live if given a viable option. And still, the keepers of the church maintained the premises.
But without options, we were fortunate to have food and a private sleeping area.
Some provided multiple gender-specific showers, where others required the perfect-timing of one shared amongst the group during a few short hours. These were the times having a vehicle that drove to Flying J was appreciated. Some families had no vehicle and waited for the company van to pick them up and drop them off with each transition. They’d spend the day in a mutual room watching television, showering, or doing laundry at the facility. The ones who worked, maneuvered their two hours per night with caution. Lights out and doors locked at 9:00 p.m.
All the families had to get along when a crying infant or ill child was present, we all suffered and dealt with it. In one instance, 3/4 of the “community” awakened to new haircuts following a lice infestation. Because of our unsociable habits, we were spared, but don’t think we weren’t paranoid. For about three days, there were periods I swear I felt something climbing through my hair. I’d inspect, have someone else investigate, and shower. It was horrible! It could only have been worse to actually find them.
A month later, we’ve managed moving into a home converted into a duplex. The commute to school and work begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends about 9:00 a.m. at the office, unless I get there earlier for some much needed overtime.
Now one may think traveling from one end of Salt Lake Valley to Lehi and back a total waste. Honestly, I did too. Between fuel and time spent traveling, I could drop the kids at the train station and gain five hours a week in overtime without stepping foot inside on the weekend. Of course, the ride back to my employment from the school takes the kids a couple of hours each night. But they’re troopers.
At first, I felt all the traveling as an unnecessary waste of time and fuel. But then I realized something vitally important; with the kids trapped in the car with me for an extra ten hours per week going from and to home, they had to communicate or at least hear a fraction of what I spewed. I chose the quality time in cussing at other drivers—in unison—a rare family activity solidifying our bond.
We got a pet. Sure, a dog would have been grand, but we wouldn’t have the time to train him during the school year. Instead we got a cat. His name was Moon when we got him, but “Lucius” got a unanimous vote—even by the feline. This paragraph brings us to “the bad.”
Understanding I had a bit of a physical reaction to cats, I was careful about how much I held Lucius or allowed him to snuggle me. It wasn’t until Nikki helped me prepare for work one day by saying, “I brought you a different coat to wear today. Lucius was using it for a bed but he can do without for a day. I know how much you like this jacket.”
Merrily, I put it on and padded off to work. But that isn’t all—oh no, that isn’t all! I draped the jacket around the back of my chair like some fool tempting Fate. Halfway through a phone call, I got a scratch in my throat and attempted to clear it. It didn’t work. In fact, my voice was nowhere to be found. Some people would have liked me that way. Although I usually had a bottle of water on my desk, there was none now. I could barely breathe, much less carry a conversation.
I politely asked my customer, through a hoarse whisper, if I could call her back in a moment. I quickly maneuvered to the water fountain and got a drink. “Are you okay?” a passing supervisor inquired.
”Well, that was weird…” I managed before gasping like a astronaut without a helmet. “My windpipe feels as wide as a stirring straw.” The supervisor turned back, grabbed me, and guided me to a chair before calling an ambulance.
Even though a stretcher, a crew of paramedics, and the supervisors gathering around were necessary, I wish they weren’t. We were in a semi-secluded area, but passerby paused on occasion to take a bit of commotion with them.
Several times the paramedics asked if I wanted a ride to the hospital for additional treatment after the instant nebulizer. The only thought absorbing into my mind was the cost. An ambulance would probably cost another thousand or so—plus the humiliation of being wheeled away. Turns out the reason they kept asking me to ride to the hospital comes down to the time being about eleven a.m. and the treatment lasting about four hours, a doctor explained later. She followed up with information leading to another attack if not treated properly. I drove to the hospital knowing I’d be working late to make up my time.
The following three hours were spent being examined before enduring the doctor’s voice of reason explaining how ridiculous it is putting an animal ahead of my own health. “Would your kids rather have a mother or a pet?” she asked me. My prescriptions are for an Albuterol inhaler, a plastic device that lessens the shakiness it causes, and Singulair. The plan is that I will acclimate. Sounds crazy—but it’s the one commonality we have as a family we can all talk and laugh about.
My last bit of news comes after a phone call I received at work today. It was the military school—you know, the one Cameron’s anticipating his pilot’s license from? He was caught sluffing yesterday. They suspected more because of the kids he was associated with in the car. So he’s suspended for tomorrow. Needless to say, the television remotes and his phone have been confiscated and his visit to his father’s denied. All that aside, he’s mostly upset that he’ll miss a kid’s birthday party Sunday—his one chance to truly make friends at his new school. His father’s even more upset. Not with Cameron but with me for not allowing the visit. He feels I’m “taking my frustrations out on” him. I explained my decision wasn’t “about him” at all but directed toward my son. Dave didn’t get it—surprise. I’m unreasonable.
Here’s how I see it: I’ve only got one shot at getting this motherhood thing right—sort of like skydiving; no way to fix a major error after jumping.
What would YOU do? We’ll check back later for the end results.