We moved to Georgia this summer. I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty bad. Swampy, sweaty, constant heat. Unexpected, urgent home repairs. Money flying out the window. Three inch bugs strolling across the floor. Pervasive loneliness. Quiet resentment.
For weeks my kids asked me questions I couldn’t answer about starting their new schools: Who will I eat lunch with? Will anyone be nice to me? What if I get lost? What’s my teacher going to be like? What’s it like to ride the bus?
I tried to make a safe place for their constant worries, point them toward hopeful thinking, and pray with them about their worst case scenarios. It was exhausting and scary. By the time the First Day of School came on August 6th I was totally wrung out. I had nothing left. I even threw up from unprecedented anxiety that day.
I think that’s called the bottom of the barrel.
Now we’re are slowly finding our new normal in the predictability of a school routine. Backpacks and outfits are set out the night before, toast is buttered at 6:25am, breath and armpits are checked for stinkiness, and everyone is out the door by 7:24am. The big kids can unlock their lockers and Greta has buddies at recess. I love my solid chunk of kid-free time each day.
Two weeks ago I was sitting restlessly in a big chair during that kid-free time thinking about all that’s happened in the past six months and all that didn’t happen. That’s when the shame hit: I haven’t done anything for this year’s Family Compassion Focus, I’m not writing anything, I have no purpose, I feel fat, etc. It was dark.
I kind of prayed out loud and said, “God, I’ve got nothing. I’m still so tired. I want to be who you made me to be, but I also just want to sleep in the corner of a closet for a long time. Sorry. Amen.”
That went on for a while. I remembered Compassion, and how loving others has pulled me out of self-pity and shame before. But the thought of baking cookies and gluing crafts in a town where we know about 10 people was dreadful. I declared again, “God, I’ve got nothing.”
In my heart I heard, “Do what you can with what you have.” And that felt mean, because I made it clear that I had nothing.
Then I remembered the one thing that brings me consistent joy since school started. Every morning at 6:40am Greta and I walk up the hill to her bus stop. We hold hands. It’s quiet. She points out song birds and crescent moons. I pray for her day. She asks for extra hugs. Then the bus comes and she is crestfallen. I make her smile by doing a chicken dance in the middle of the street as the bus pulls away.
That chicken dance came out of no where. I’m not goofy, I don’t dance, and I hate mornings. But in my desperation one day I chicken danced before dawn because I couldn’t bear to see my baby cry about going to school. I’ve done it for weeks, and now the other kids on the bus smile, clap, and flap their arms with me. The bus driver calls the kids my “Fans.” Greta has become my Stage Manager and gives me tips each morning like “Bigger Arms!” “Shake your Booty More!” “Look at Everyone on the Bus!” “Chase After Us!” It’s an out of body experience.
When I told God that I had nothing, he disagreed and pointed me to the Chicken Dance. That seemed like kind of a stretch.
So I thought a little bit more, white boarding with different colored arrows in my brain on how the Chicken Dance could be Something when I clearly had Nothing.
I remembered that the folks back in Wheaton were daring/bribing/begging me to post a video of the Chicken Dance. Mama don’t dance for free. What if I made them pay for it? What if that money went to toward our Family’s Compassion Focus for this year, Haiti Partners? I laughed out loud at the thought of it.
At dinner I told my family, “Guys, I have some crazy news. I am going to get a Chicken Suit and do the Chicken Dance at G’s bus stop on September 9th. And let you record it. And post it on the internet. But only if people donate $1500 to Haiti Partners.”
They grinned ear to ear. Their uptight Mama who is always telling them to sit still, memorize bible verses, and drink more water was now going to be silly? Everybody wins.
Many, many things happened in the next twelve days. I’m still processing it all and promise to give you the full story very soon. In the meantime, here are the highlights:
- The $1500 goal was met in 3 days. $3600 was donated the night before the Chicken Dance. As of 9/11/15 $10,269 has been donated to Haiti Partners Back to School campaign.
- Friends sent me a full Chicken Costume. But not a full-coverage Mascot kind like I envisioned. This one showed my whole face.
- I was asked to talk about this a tiny bit on the radio. Here is the clip: WGN 8/29/15
- My daughter made flyers all by herself to hand out to our new neighbors. (“Nice to meet you, Neighbors! We are weirdos!”)
- Our best friends from Wheaton got to be here for the big event.
- Different versions of The Chicken Dance Bus Stop Fundraiser for Haiti Partners videos have been viewed on YouTube over 650 times. Here is the basic video. Here is a cool version that’s 10 seconds longer, silent, and has a 8mm filter on it. (“The internet is forever, Mom! Remember?”)
- Haiti Partners responded with the best Chicken Dance video ever. It has been viewed more than 2000 times in two days. You must watch it now. I guarantee you’ll smile. I won’t be surprised if you cry like I did. Show your friends.
- $10,269 = 28 full year scholarships for Haiti Partners schools. $1=1 day of school. $30 = 1 month of school. $360 is a full year of school.
- The deadline for this fundraiser has been extended to Monday, 9/14/15 at midnight. To read more, laugh or donate: #ChickenDance Fundraiser for Haiti Partners.
To read more about my family’s 2015 Family Compassion Focus read this.
To read more about how we started doing weird compassion stuff read this.
To get started with your own Family Compassion Focus take a look at this.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015