Mama comes into the coffee shop every day and orders a hot latte and an iced tea. Her latte flavor changes with the seasons, although her pumpkin latte season stretched past Christmas, but her iced chamomile is a constant. Little E is always smiling, safely snuggled in the arms of her mama. Mama has a routine for juggling her 2 drinks and little E. Even as E has gotten bigger and much wigglier, mama has never set her down. She pays cash with one hand, puts the change and the straw for her iced tea in her purse, and balances her 2 large drinks to the car. I’ve never seen her spill. I tell mama that coffee shop smells and sounds will always feel like home to little E. I bet she’ll become a barista.
Over the year, I’ve learned a lot about little E. I know she was Cinderella for Halloween, she giggles with delight when we have snowman donuts from Krispy Kreme, and her first birthday was a big family celebration. I know that little E is not always a perfect angel, but only because mama told me. I also know that little E is mama’s first foster baby, and the first time mama has ever been a mama. I wonder if little E knows that.
It was during caramel macchiato season that I asked mama how little E’s home visits were going. “E goes to live with her mom in 30 days.” Her answer was short and rushed in an effort to shield her emotion, but the slight quiver in her voice and her stunned expression exposed her anguish. She was crushed and so was I. I handed mama her change and told her I would pray for her. It was the best support I could offer.
And I did pray for mama. I prayed for her when I folded laundry, when I went for a run, when I was driving – any time she popped in my mind, I prayed. I prayed for all 3 – Little E, little E’s birth mom, and little E’s brokenhearted mama. I wanted little E to stay with mama because it sounded happy and seemed good, but I prayed whatever God lead me to pray at the time. He knows more than I do and He knows what’s best.
Prayer is taking our needs and our wants to our Father with child-like dependence. Prayer humbles us and quiets us. Prayer reminds us of the proper order between us and God – He is in control and we are not. “Lord, if You are willing…” Our faith in God’s ability is an important part of prayer, but so is our trust – trust that God is still good, even when we don’t understand.
Mama came in last week with empty arms. She didn’t want a latte. I wonder how many years she’s endured painfully empty arms. I wonder if the emptiness hurts worse than it did before little E. I am still praying for little E, her birth mom, and her empty-armed mama.