Nothing Ventured, Something Lost

An accomplished photographer friend of mine had graciously volunteered to come over and snap some photos of our new family of four. With the adoption finally complete, Mark had arrived home just five months or so earlier, and we’d be needing some photos for Mark’s readoption application. (Extenuating circumstances of the international adoption meant we’d need to legally adopt Mark not once, but twice: once in Guatemala and then again in the US.)

It was a gorgeous but rare sunny Fall day, and we’d just completed the photoshoot outside. So, I invited my friend in for a hot drink and a chat. After showing me some of the images she’d snapped on her camera, our conversation quickly turned to change—and how we were both craving it. Maybe that’s the wrong word to use in my situation. I’d actually been forced into change. So, I wasn’t craving it at all. I desperately needed it.

About a year or so prior, I had been working part-time at the local school where I was previously a fourth-grade teacher. I loved teaching, and it was certainly a calling, not just a career. But after having Nate, our oldest son, I wasn’t quite ready to return to the classroom full-time. So, I took a part-time administrative position instead to bring in the funds we needed to make ends meet and still spend time with our infant son.

I’d done due diligence and sought out the same in-home daycare provider that all my coworkers were currently using for their little ones. I went to meet her in person. I dropped by a few times unannounced to ensure it would be a good fit with attentive care. Honestly, I felt great about it. She was conveniently located only about 15 minutes from the school, and I thought it’d be good for Nate. Even at that young age, he was a little social butterfly.

Everything chugged along smoothly for months. And I was tremendously grateful to be leaving Nate in the care of someone whom I trusted. As a small tokens of gratitude, I’d even tuck in small bottles of lotion or gift cards for coffee in Nate’s diaper bag for her to find. Yep, everything was great. That is until they weren’t. Everything changed one day when I left work early.

I’d just wrapped up scheduling four different field trips that day and had confirmed all the necessary details with transportation. I’d even put in some hours at home the previous night to secure one of the locations. So, my supervisor told me to go ahead and knock off a bit early. She didn’t have to tell me twice. I packed up my bag and nearly skipped to my car.

As I drove over to pick up Nate, I glanced down at the clock on the dash. I briefly considered sneaking off and using those two hours to browse a local store alone. But something told me not to, and I’m glad I listened to my hunch.

When I arrived, I walked in with a big smile and immediately walked over to Nate’s diaper bag sitting on the couch. It was untouched, and the daycare provider didn’t even turn around. Instead, she remained glued to her computer screen. But no bother, I thought. Maybe she’s working on paying bills or checking on something for her own school-aged children.

“Where’s Nate?” I said.

“Oh, he’s in the back taking a nap,” she replied.

“Mind if I sneak in there and grab him? I got off a bit early,” I said.

“Sure, no problem.”

But soon, there would certainly be a problem. Nate wasn’t in the back. Nate wasn’t napping at all.

“Um,” I said, trying to deny the urgency I felt. “Nate’s not there. Where is he?”

“Well, I’m sure he’s around here somewhere,” she said, again refusing to look away from her screen.

That was it. I was in sheer panic mode. All I wanted—all I needed—to do was find my kid and get the heck out of there.

I looked everywhere for what felt like an eternity. But never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined where I’d ultimately find him.

“Oh, baby Nate!” There you are!” I said. Nate was wedged underneath her couch, covered in dust and debris.

Nate was absolutely fine, but my Momma’s heart wasn’t. This was wrong—just wrong. And I wasn’t about to ever let it happen again.

Long story short, the daycare lady had started out wonderful. But over the previous few months, she’d developed a true addiction to computer games, an addiction that ultimately cost her her business and nearly her marriage.

As for me, I’m confident I could’ve found another great daycare placement. But the truth was, this incident really caused me to evaluate my priorities. Nate was my highest priority, and—come hell or high water—I was going to find a way to work from home.

So I did. The only problem was jumping from contract to contract, from one small job to the next. There was no consistency in the amount of work—or money—I was bringing in. And this was causing a new kind of stress. Caring for Nate was still my highest priority. But providing for his needs was right up there, too.

As a result, I was toying with some other possibilities. I considered different ways to bring in income, including working in graphic design again—the field I worked in before becoming a teacher. But I was uneasy, wondering if I was still competent enough to compete in the current workforce. These are the fears I was sharing with my friend that chilly but clear Fall day. And that’s when she reached into her purse and pulled out an old envelope and pen.

“I’m going to show you what a friend recently showed me,” she said. Then, she drew a simple target made up of concentric circles.

“This is the target,” she explained as she rested her pen at the very center. “This is your goal, your dream…”

Then, she lifted her pen and held it up a few inches above the target.

“There are two kinds of people: The people who never try, those who are too scared of change or too worried about screwing up,” she said as she continued to hold the pen up in the air. “These people never mess up. But they never hit the target, either.”

“Then, there are the people who jump, who run towards the change and understand that missing the mark—even over and over again—is just part of the process,” she continued. This time, she allowed the pen to drop over and over again, making countless marks all over inside and outside of the target. Finally, she let the tip of the pen rest smackdab in the middle of the target.

These are the people who eventually get there,” she explained. “These are the people who understand that change isn’t the enemy even though it may feel like it. These people reach their goals because they’re willing to accept the cost of getting there.”

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