As I’m typing this I’m curled up in bed next to the sweetest little man in the whole world. To get him down for a nap without Amanda or nursing involved can be tricky but we oiled up, snuggled in to rock and watched Boss Baby as his whispered JoJos get quieter and quieter. I have a beautiful bond with this little boy. I’m really lucky enough to have this sweet relationship with Orion because of my amazing relationship with his wonderful mama. We’ve had our ups and downs, times of closeness and distance yet our love for each other and the relationship we have grows as we both grow.
I’ve known Amanda pretty much my entire life, she remembers the earlier years better than I do of course because when we initially met I was five. My narrative kinda picks up when I was about nine years old, pretty close to when miss Emma was born. I still didn’t see them too often because they lived further away but I remember being in the hospital the night Hannah was born and taking Emma home with us and having her snuggled up in bed with me and getting to skip school the next day to watch her, it was great. Our relationship started more so because I wanted to be involved with the girls and play with them. I love babies and the girls were so sweet so once they moved to Royalton I’d spend as much time as I could at their house. If you had told me then how close Amanda and I would be now eleven-year-old me would have rolled her eyes at you and said “ya, sure.”
In a nutshell I thought Amanda was weird. I didn’t understand her faith and she tried to talk to me about things here and there that I just wanted to avoid. I specifically remember one bike ride when I was eleven where she just mentioned periods and I thought “woah lady, why the heck are you trying to talk to me about this??” and I just biked away. Around my junior year of high school something in our relationship switched and I started hanging out at the house not so much for the girls anymore but because I wanted to hangout with Amanda. The big turning point for me was when we went prom dress shopping for shoes and accessories, we had some conversations about big things no one had ever talked to me about before and while I was kind of uncomfortable I opened up. We had a ton of fun that day. Our relationship continued along as “entry level” friends for my last two years of high school. While getting ready the summer before my freshman year of college we became gym buddies. We met every day at lunch and had an intense quick gym session on her lunch break. There wasn’t a lot of time for life sharing through all the squats and burpees. Instead, we had tons of fun pushing each other and competing about who could lift more or do more reps. I remember the day when we were at the gym and she told me she and chad had been talking about having another baby and the thought that went through my head was “woah, I’m in.” Not that I had ever felt Amanda didn’t trust me or anything like that. It had just felt that we were just still at arm’s length with each other and I felt really special she had wanted to share her thoughts on a new baby with me. We stayed connected while I was away at school by snapping each other intermittently about workouts to keep ourselves on track. Neither one of us could find someone to push us the way we pushed each other. Little did we know that this was our first taste of missing each other or that eventually we’d barely be able to handle me being away from home for even a week without snapping or video chatting nearly every day. Looking back now I realize that that’s when Amanda had really truly become my friend.
The summer she was pregnant with Orion I’d spend so much time at the house with her hanging out chatting about any and everything baby. Not gonna lie I was nearly as excited as she was and It was impossible to hide. I loved being brought in by Amanda to enjoy her special time with her and to be at an age this time to really understand what a wonderful experience this was. Thinking about returning to school that fall bummed me out so much because I would be leaving just before baby and I didn’t want to miss out on all the time had been getting with Amanda. Since she couldn’t really work out that summer I would come over and we’d go for long walks. On those walks she’d force out of me all the things I didn’t want to say on topics I wanted to avoid with her natural talent for getting things out of people and her token response of “I don’t know is a BS excuse, give me a real answer.” It made me really uncomfortable, dreams and my wants had been something I’d pushed off my options table long ago. I didn’t like the feelings thinking about all that stirred up inside of me. Sometimes I wanted to crawl out of my skin and hide, I couldn’t escape it though because she’d call me out and as much as it drove me crazy I needed it and I knew it. This was when I sort of started to take those first little baby steps toward realizing that living my life was about living it for me not for anyone else’s expectations. In true Amanda fashion she would quote bible verses for every situation and while I admired her faith and knowledge I wasn’t quite there yet but that’s when I started to feel the flutters.
That August just before I was about to return to school lighnting struck my parents home at four in the morning with all of us inside, two years later and I still have nightmares, flashbacks and don’t really sleep through the night unless I’m surrounded by people or have someone to snuggle with. It was terrifying standing outside as the storm raged watching everything but the clothes we had on our backs burn in a matter of minutes. When the flames had finally subsided and my dazed and haphazardly dressed family wandered into Walmart to pick up some real clothes to wear there in the grocery section was Amanda. I ran to her and immediately broke down sobbing. I can still see every moment and hear every word. She lovingly held me and started to comfort me saying” O honey school won’t be that bad it will be ok.” I just looked at her for a second and said “didn’t you hear?”
“Our house burned down, we lost everything.”
“O honey.” And she just wrapped me up and held me as we fell apart together in the Walmart produce section.
She became an amazing source of comfort during those early weeks. I was commuting two and a half hours from school in the cities every few days to help with the documentation process for insurance and digging through the ruins of the life I’d known. On top of that I was trying to still go to school, living on my own for the first time and trying to manage the trauma on my own. I leaned on her so much and she always had the right thing to say or a bible verse for me to look up, this is when I felt that little nudge in me get a bit stronger to search for God. Amanda became my biggest support system and I leaned on her hard. Things at home continued to crumble and unravel, everyone was tense and trying to cope by getting tasks handled and the healing process went overlooked and ignored. I was overall alone in trying to wrap my head around everything and be ok. I started seeking solace within Amanda’s home and the chaos there. I say chaos very lovingly because at her home curled up on the couch with the noise of life surrounding me was the only time I felt ok and was able to sleep. I felt so welcome and loved, my life was heavy but Amanda never made me feel like I was too much. Her and her family loved me so well and I loved them. We were going through this really great stage of loving each other, in this season she was very much giving to me more than I was giving. I was trying to not take too much but it was hard because I was very empty and in need. I leaned hard and she was there to support me and our relationship had once again changed into something I hadn’t imagined it would be. In life things were a mess, between us things were smooth. Not long after, we had a bit of a test thrown into our relationship.
When she went back to work for a few weeks when her maternity leave was up she asked me to watch Orion, I obviously said yes because I love babies and this little boy from day one before he was born had a really special place in my heart. Overall things with little man were great, towards the end though the girls were home on break. I love these girls with all my heart, Hannah is my little mini me snuggle buddy and I often understand a lot of Emma’s internal struggle more than she understands, she just doesn’t want to hear it yet. I have loved the girls their whole lives and watched them grow through many stages, this stage was the you’re not my parent you’re not in charge stage. Amanda was really struggling leaving Orion and I was working hard to make it easier on her which included getting the girls to do their list of chores Amanda had left. Emma and I butted heads hard. I’m not a parent, obviously, and I attempted everything I had watched Amanda do. One day ended with a small swat on the butt with lots of hugs and I love yous after, the next day ended in a full meltdown. I was so totally lost. I sat and hugged and held her telling her how much I loved her and just rocked. I felt so horribly and didn’t understand how it got there and I was trying so hard to make it better so I was just trying to do what Amanda would. Things got settled down and Emma took off with the phone to hide and called Amanda. I was terrified because while yes, I love Emma dearly she tends to make dilemmas seem like life or death. I was so scared that Amanda would think that I had hurt her daughter. I was new to that whole situation with Emma, was so worried about losing this one safe space I had and was beating myself up internally so much that when chad got home I broke down crying and ran out the door. I would also like to state that crying is not my thing, like ever, so it took a lot for anything to make me lose it. The more I hang around Amanda though, the more often it happens, it’s annoying. I walked out that door and didn’t talk to Amanda for nearly five months.
Part 2 Next Week