This is Sarah.
We are second cousins. We spent a lot of summers as little girls running on the beach together and playing at family get togethers. Sometime around middle school, we lost touch. We like to give our mamas a hard time about it, but really it was just due to the fact that our families were both busy raising teenagers in different cities. We didn’t see each other for years and years until Brent and I returned from San Francisco and went to a family reunion outside Goldsboro, NC.
Sarah and I reconnected and it was like discovering a new-old friend. Our grandparents were siblings and we share the same family middle name. From the start there was a comfortable familiarity between us but when we reconnected, we knew only bits of pieces of what was happening in each other’s lives through word of mouth in our family tree.
Sarah and I became facebook friends. We started talking regularly and filling in the spaces created by years of growing up in parallel. This past summer, Sarah reached out to inquire if we knew of anyone who was looking for a roommate in Raleigh. She had been accepted into a Masters program at a nearby college and was moving back from St. Louis to start school.
I didn’t know anyone who was looking for a roommate, but her message sparked another idea. Brent and I had tossed around the idea of finding a local college student to live in our upstairs bedroom in exchange for some nannying. Our house is the perfect set up for this arrangement as it was once two separate living units long ago. Our upstairs was once a 1 bedroom apartment so our 4th bedroom has an exterior exit, its own bathroom, closet & what was once the living room (our current playroom) has a small kitchenette.
We could never afford to have a nanny outright (and we don’t need one full time) but we kept thinking that with the way our house is laid out, it would be awesome to trade some room/board in order to be able to go out to dinner a few times a month or have someone watch the children when we wanted to attend a social event or even just run errands together. We finally decided that it would take such a specific person that we would be comfortable sharing our home and leaving our children with that it probably would never work.
Then I got Sarah’s email and all I could think was… I wonder if she would be interested in my idea?!? I threw it out there and she was immediately open to it. She came by to check out our home and a few days later, it was a sealed deal. It was a win/win for everyone as she’d get her own space close to campus for a really reduced rate and we’d get some help a few times a month caring for the children.
Sarah’s long time boyfriend was also interviewing for jobs in Raleigh, but until he found one, he was living an hour away. Her move to Raleigh would be the first time they were apart in over 5 years. I also hoped that even though she was moving to a new city, taking on a serious school course load, and being apart from her love, having us right down stairs would also help soften all of the changes for her.
Sarah has been with us since August and we are so in love with having her here. Everly and Arlo have grown incredibly comfortable with her and she showers them with love and affection. We’ve learned to live together while still maintaining our individual dynamics. Sometimes we will go a few days without seeing one another if our schedules are opposite. Brent and I try hard to make sure we are respecting her need for study time and privacy.
It’s been great when I travel for work that if Brent wants to go for a run, or just needs an extra pair of hands he has someone there he can ask for help. She and I have made a ritual of drinking a glass of wine and watching our favorite shows together once a week. We swap clothes and talk for hours, catching up on all the parts of each other’s lives we’ve missed since childhood. Often on the weekend, her boyfriend will come up and stay and I love giving them suggestions for great restaurants to try (they are both big foodies!)
Just last night, we realized after we’d put the children down for the night that Everly’s bedroom door was open and that she wasn’t in her bed. A few minutes later we discovered her upstairs, standing on a chair next to Sarah in her kitchenette “helping” her cook dinner.
Brent and I have relished in the ability to spend time alone together, rekindling the parts of our relationship that we neglected over the past year. We have regained a level of flexibility in our lives that we have been without for many years.
I’ve learned over these past months what I already suspected- Sarah and I are kindred spirits and finding a dear friend in someone who I can also call family feels extra special. From the start we told her she could stay as long or as short-term as she needed, but I can tell you, we’ve already got our fingers crossed that we get to keep her for awhile.
I’m always amazed at how God often puts people in my life at the exact time when I really need them. There were a lot of pieces that had to fit into place just so to make this kind of arrangement work, and I marvel at how beautifully it’s turned out.
I thought I’d take a moment to talk about her on my blog today because although she has technically always been family, recently she’s become a very special part of ours.
(Unrelated note: That giant bow on Everly’s head - hilarious, right? Those giant bows are popular on little girls here in the south. We put it on her head, laughed about it, and then she ripped it out about 2 minutes later because it was too heavy. We get a F in southern fashion statements, I suppose)