The kids and I spent part of this week’s fall break in the Fort Worth, Texas, area visiting my good friend Andrea.
Andrea and I go way back to my Indiana days. I was a panicky newlywed and Andrea had been married about 7 years or so and had two young kids. She kinda took me under her wing and listened to my frustrations, encouraged me through them and became my first friend up there. Today, she is one my closest friends — you know, the kind where time and space may separate you for a while but as soon as you’re reunited you pick up talking as if you never stopped, as if there was just a pause button pressed since the last time you were together. That’s the kind of friendship Andrea and I have.
We’ve been fortunate enough to see each other a few times since we both left the great Hoosier state. I was able to eat dinner with her and her family during a long layover in Dallas a few years ago, and when I was in Houston once on business she flew down and spent a few days with me shopping, eating and going to church. After my husband died she drove all the way from Texas (12 hours!) and spent the week with me, which let my parents go home but didn’t leave me totally alone.
I’ve modeled some of my parenting style after her, especially the part where I tell my kids to work things out for themselves. That totally came from her. Although she did it better than me, or maybe her kids — a boy and a girl — did it better than my two alpha males. It doesn’t work nearly as well with mine as it seemed to with hers.
The little toddler and grade-schooler that I sometimes babysat, if she needed help or if she and her husband wanted a date night, are now teenagers. The oldest will graduate high school this year. I am, in my parenting journey, about where she was when we met. It was cool to remember playing with her two at the age mine are now and seeing kids I used to babysit interacting and entertaining my own children. It was a little glimpse at the circle-of-life perhaps.
Andrea and her kiddos were gracious enough to let me and my kiddos crash in their upstairs guest room for a few days, and to show us around. We spent several hours at the Legoland Discovery Center and had a delicious and entertaining meal at the Rainforest Cafe. On another day, while the big kids were in school, Andrea and I took the little ones into Fort Worth and to the Fort Worth Stockyard Station to see the daily cattle drive and shop at the general stores.
The trip was good for us in so many ways, and I’m thankful it was possible for us to go. I was worried there would be no time for Andrea and I to catch up and have adult conversation. But for a few hours each day her kids watched my kids and let us have a little time on our own. We went shopping. :) One day we went to Hobby Lobby to look at yarn and another day we went to Sam Moon to look for these adorable animal head hats (the boys are wearing theirs in one of the pictures below). We managed to have good conversations in between parachute men falling from the second-floor balcony and the Smash Bros. and Godzilla matches on Wii. We even squeezed in a little knitting and chatting over flavored coffee.
I am so thankful for friendships with heritage, and the blessing of venturing to places on this good Earth that I’ve yet to see. Thank you, Hicks clan, for your Texas hospitality!