It’s 14 degrees outside as I write this, which is twenty degrees warmer than this morning when I was celebrating Valentine’s Day at our dining room table with Dustin and our girls.
It was a quick, fun morning, and while I wished I could stay home and avoid the cold, I was looking forward to coming into work. I reminded the girls we’d have a special dinner tonight to finish up our celebrations.
“What is it?” they asked.
“You’ll see!” I said as I hurried out the door. Truthfully, I’ve been looking forward to homemade pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni all week.
I got to work and had a busy morning, but this afternoon, I decided to check on our foster parent resource closet. I wanted to see what clothing sizes we need for kiddos who come into care with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
“All of the sizes,” I quickly realized as I straightened up the few items that were left on the shelves.
As I refolded and relabeled a couple of sweatshirts, I noticed one particular pair of really snuggly pajamas. The kind with the feet and one-long zipper. My girls always insist these won’t be a problem in the middle of the night when they’re groggy and making their way to the bathroom. But knowing my younger daughter, I tend to imagine otherwise. So, much to their dismay, I usually opt for buying them two-piece pajamas.
These cozy footed pajamas really did look perfect for the bitter cold day we were having. And as I grabbed them to check their size and put them in the best spot on the shelf, I realized they were just a little bigger than what my 8 & 9 year old daughters wear – a size 10. The design was super cute – pink with polka dots featuring a cute cartoon-like dog that lots of elementary girls would probably love wearing.
I wondered which little girl would end up with them. Which little girl who was leaving her home at a moment’s notice would wear those pajamas as she climbed into an unfamiliar bed on her first night away from mom or dad.
I wondered how difficult it would be for our licensing team to find a placement for her. Would we have an available family who was willing to welcome a little girl who was most likely 9 or 10 years old? All of our homes are pretty full right now, not to mention the fact that in child welfare, 9 or 10 years old is considered an “older child”.
But when I looked at those pink polka dot footie pajamas, I didn’t picture an “older child”. I pictured my girls, still young and playful, snuggled up in their bunk beds, surrounded by their favorite stuffed animals.
I pictured them happy and chatty, asking for their bedtime song and for Dustin to pat their backs. I pictured them settled and cherished and loved.
I thought about our good days together over these last almost five years. So many special days like today filled with laughter, small gifts, and over-the-top food. And I thought about our rough days – the ones filled with tears and big feelings and my expectations that are probably too high for everyone.
And then I said a short prayer while I held those pajamas. Nothing major. Just a silent one asking God to be tangibly near to the little girl that will wear those pajamas.
When I pray those types of prayers, I guess what I really mean is, “God, will you move in the hearts of the foster parents that this particular little girl needs. Will you help them and strengthen them and give them the courage to say yes? Will you help that sweet girl who is walking through some kind of difficulty right now to know that she is loved, even when life around her might be a mess? And somehow, can these pajamas be a tiny reminder to her that she is loved and cared for, not just by the family that welcomes her in, but by the God who created her? And will you help me in all those same ways?”
I guess it isn’t a simple prayer after all.
Foster care isn’t simple. Moving homes isn’t simple. Changing families isn’t simple.
But you know what is simple? Buying footie pajamas.
So maybe I’ll stop by the store on my way home, and grab a few pairs.
After all, they’re still little, and I’m so lucky to be their mom.