Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In the last week so much has happened, so many things I really want to write about. But first, I want to pay homage to the small and large victories that lie within these family driven holidays.

A small soapbox moment, two thing things: family is who/what you make it and holidays don’t have to be celebrated traditionally (despite the Hallmark pressure).

The week before Christmas I was a little grinch-y. I recall giving my Mom so much sass when she wanted to talk about Christmas presents for the kids. I was not nice. I turned down a gift, a thoughtful gift because I was in the trenches. Really, all I could think about was getting through the day, buying diapers and milk, and making sure everyone was fed and bathed. We are talking bottom level Hierarchy of Needs stuff. I cried on that phone call after I snapped at her. I knew Christmas was coming and there was no stopping it, ready or not. And people, my Mom especially wanted to make Christmas special for the kids.

I was conflicted. I hope people will relate. I struggle balancing two thoughts. 1. Our house being DISNEYLAND to these kids, but what a let down when they leave. And 2. There life is so tough right now, they deserve to be SPOILED (in the least, loved more than ever). I don’t know which side wins out, I generally play devil’s advocate to whatever thought is winning at the moment.

This debate ended when I received a message from a college friend. We were both athletes (I don’t want to identify her, in case she wishes to remain anonymous…I never asked), we didn’t play together but when you are an athlete at Campbell University (stoplight town) you are in a very special sorority of athletes and you are all friends. Can I get an Amen? Anyway, haven’t talked in years but the blessed Facebook can really help people keep in touch. I got a message saying she wanted to buy a Christmas gift; specifically the kitchen (no strings attached, just wanted to do it if I was cool with it–she said “your call”….which speaks to my need to control). I did what I call a brave thing and I said yes. I threw pride out the window weeks ago. To make this Christmas magic happen we were gonna need some help. Then some other wonderful friends made a big offer to be Santa for the kids. We had found a letter K wrote to Santa (she is 8, she wanted a pink Lamborgini…me too chickadee…actually I want a minivan….but same diff), she included a request for a tablet. In that moment, I realized these kids were gonna get the things they wanted. And it wouldn’t be because of me. With a strong need to fix things and make it all perfect, I am humbled when God uses others and lets me sit down.

H is 2, Santa could of brought him a box and he would of been in heaven. However, the workbench was a hit. He hammered everything–
A L L  D A Y

Then there was stuff shipped from our families and friends. Clothes, books, toys galore (which is good because we were super limited on the toy front–refer to the Hierarchy of Needs). Then we went to Costco on 12/22 and bought one of everything else. Our playroom (which was our living room) is #blessed.

We did Christmas Eve service where the kids outnumbered the adults followed by a fabulous Chili dinner at MB’s. Her kids have made it into the circle of trust. K, M, and H love them and demand all of their attention (which they give…so sweet).

Christmas morning was magical. There are so many mental pictures I wish I could share, just know I cried a lot of Happy Tears. K exclaimed it was the best Christmas of her entire life (heartstring conflict). For a little while, I think they forgot the chaos they were in the midst of, what a gift.

All day, Meg and I would lock eyes beaming. It was magical. They even napped. Bless it all.

I already posted this on Facebook but Megan and I found a letter left on the desk written on construction paper. Its hard to read but it says, “Thank you for all you have done. I love you so much. From the stars, the moon and the sun back to earth. Love, K, M, and H”

letter.jpg

I didn’t need anything else. What a beautiful thing, I had no wants or needs. I didn’t unwrap single present that day and It was the most full my heart had felt.

We had a fabulous weekend including the Georgia Aquarium, riding Marta, and a trip to our framily’s house in Augusta for a few days (more on that in another post). We partied on New Years and made it to bed before 8pm.

There were still low parts during theses 2 weeks (I even asked Meg how many more days until school) but such is life. This post is meant to celebrate the victories and the people who have loved these kids (and us).

We pray this New Year that we will be blessed so we can bless others (which has always been my hope and prayer) and that people in our life feel supported and loved by us. Amen.

Here are a few permissible photos for your imagination to ponder on.

 

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Kids are Resillent

Sometimes, OK a lot of time I hear this from people I want to punch them in the face. Note I didn’t say all the time. I understand a fair amount it is used as an “installation of hope and reassurance.” And there is absolutely a time and place for that. Because no doubt, kids—human beings are resilient. People get knocked down and they get back up. But there are those other times (the above mentioned LOT) when people use that phrase to erase some guilt of their own. Like little Jimmy’s mom died, poor baby – kids are resilient, though he will be okay.

First, of course he will be okay but jumping first to identify the resiliency feels like we might be cheating kids of their opportunity to not be okay. To have some feelings.

Please refer to Inside Out which is now the clinical bible for children. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it 700 times (like we have in the last week) you are totally missing out on some good feeling work.

Its okay for little Jimmy to be sad, heck its appropriate. Just marinate on that.

But where I am really bothered I when people say to themselves (thought—refer to cognitive triangle) “Kids are resilient” its as if there is some kind of justification for their behavior. This came up for us after the kids visit this past week. I saved my sentiments about the first visit for after Christmas (you’re welcome). Not only was it a surprise which caused so many mixed feelings, demonstrated with all kinds of interesting behaviors—BUT the aftermath was surely even more complex.

It was a teeter-totter of “I love you, I need you” and “I hate it here, I want to go home.” Good thing we are therapists and can totally regulate our emotions based on a very psychological analysis.

Yea, freaking right.

It was like a roller coaster and I did not want to ride it anymore (and that was only and hour in from return from visit)—I don’t like roller coasters. We were pretty tired and for extra fun a transformer on our street blew, so we didn’t have power (thanks to global warming we have thunder storms in December). So in the dark, with scared dogs, tired adults, and emotional kids…we did our best, but I know we can do better. We allowed for that space for kids to lead the return home. There were tears, cuddles, fantastical discussions about mom and dad and statements of “promises.” There was attitude and fussy babies. It was as if we took 100 steps backwards.

Don’t worry I had a great idea. I made a really special dinner (requested by K) and when it was served she loudly stated she didn’t like it and its not how her Mom makes enchiladas. Ouch, of course I said she didn’t have to eat them and reassured her that Mom probably makes them different, I apologized (that is Jesus…totally not me). Then she tried a bite and made the most disgusted face, basically spitting them out. (now of course the littles are NOT eating this slop). I said please don’t make those kind of faces about the food, it hurts my feelings. She burst into tears, of course she did. That was me, not Jesus that time. I have already felt pretty shitty about picking the food battle post visit. Nothing anyone thinks or says will be worse than what I have already thought to myself. I will do better.

We opted for an early bedtime in hopes the next day would be better. For all of us. The morning came with hugs and I love you’s. Don’t worry, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know there will be other visits (we will have pizza every time, now).

For extra fun, we ate Must-Go’s (all the leftovers in buffet style) last night and K ate 3 plates of those gross enchiladas.

This is just to give my very colorful demonstration of children’s’ erratic feelings in erratic situations. So, fair kids bounce back but we have to, have to give them space to feel. And be big enough containers for those feelings. And probably not meet their emotion with emotion.

Going to watch Inside Out again, we all need reminders that we don’t have to “fix” feelings but be with kids (people) and validate when they have them.

Therapy for Breakfast

  Just a little cognitive triangle this morning. This is a life changing shape. 
With a pop-up (nice way to say last minute) visit with bio mom and dad today at noon announced by the case worker during her first visit last night at 6pm, we’ve had a big need for this. 

Nervous tummies, mixed with happy/excited faces, and some interesting new behaviors filled the rest of the night. Lots of questions and clear anxiousness could be felt. Again, despite what I may think/feel (I need some cognitive triangle work too) we attempted to follow the lead of the kids (mainly the 8 year old). Too be honest it was hard to keep up. We were so excited we could hardly wait and then our stomach hurt and we couldn’t sleep. 

Sigh. The complexity. 

When my head finally hit the pillow last night I said to Meg: I will teach her the cognitive triangle in the morning. 

And I did. Everyone listened. But she (K) attempted to process it intently. I would normally, in my practice have practiced feeling identification and coping with her. But in real time, she really needed to understand she could control her thoughts and practice replacing thoughts that made her feel bad with healthy ones that made her feel better. She kinda got it (like 2 out of 4 attainment rating). We will practice more. In the end I am prayerful that today during her visit she will remember that so many people love her and none of this is her fault. Not really a low bar there. 

The littles demonstrated behaviorally their confused emotions. H (baby boy) hardly slept, needed a lot of soothing. 

So did I. 

I needed this reminder. Thoughts become things, choose the good ones. 

Slow it down

I really enjoy going 100mph in life. Megan really enjoys sitting down and doing nothing. This weekend, Anna was here and she is a girl after my own heart so Meg was outnumbered. (evil laugh).

I have recently been feeling some pressure about “getting in the Christmas Spirit.” Like I love Christmas but I am just not there yet. I am so focused on the daily needs of the kids that I can’t think 2 days ahead. This weekend I decided we would start Holiday-ing.

Friday Meg and I tag-teamed an awesome holiday party. Meg went for the first hour while I cookie prepped and then I went when she came back for an hour, a little longer. It was the best. Sharon and Lisa sure soirée like no ones business. It wasn’t the most ideal to be without Meg but I am glad we rallied to attempt at being social adults. I helped myself to some wine and promptly came home to rock baby boy back to sleep. Later I will discuss our “night nighting of children.”

Saturday, we baked cookies. Which was chaotic and fun (not mutually exclusive). Mostly we ate a lot of sugar. And there was a giant pizza cookie. Loads of fun. See below. sugar cookieswhoopiepb cookies

Saturday evening we went to Holiday Lights of Hope in Cherokee County to benefit the Anna Crawford Center. K (8 year old) LOVED it. She has not had that much fun…since we’ve known her. The other 2 were a little less enthralled but in a family of 5 not everyone can be happy at once. K got chased by Eli and Edie and she was in her glory! It was fun and stressful to watch her zig zag through the Christmas light maze. The way home kid 2 and 3 were very clear they were unhappy about not being in bed at home. We made a quick stop for milk and slept the whole night through. lights

I would like to pause and pat myself on the back. The littles wore PJs to this light extravaganza so when we got them home they were immediately transferred to bed. High five, self.

Sunday we churched, lunched and came home for a fabulous nap. Well they did; Anna and I went shopping (my version of relaxing). Sunday dinner, a cookie, bath time fun (anna absolutely wants 3 kids right away, right anna?) and to bed.

During bedtime routine, Anna read my favorite holiday book, Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney. Now this book, I read it every Christmas to whomever will listen and there is that one page (Danielle, you know the one I speak of) where its time for us to remember that all the running might make us lose track of the time we have together. I generally cry at this page. I hope I don’t get so caught up in attempting to make the “perfect holiday” that I miss the the “hold the ones we love the best” part.

I had breakfast with Anna today, before she left. She is magical y’all. She is easy to trust, fun loving, and hard to say good-bye to. K asked if she could be her sister. There are friends we hold like family, she is totally in that circle. In our few hours of hanging together this morning (I watched her re-pack her suitcase) we rambled (anyone who knows us can totally imagine the rambling) about a little bit of everything. I think thats the “slow down” I needed with a dear friend. Anna had a growing up year. Moved to Michigan to pursue a career as a sceintist (that is big girl stuff) and we watched her handle the sudden loss of her Mema with grace and maturity. We are very proud of our dear friend, Anna. And very grateful she got to share life, break bread with us, and back some cookies. IMG_4546.jpg

Moments with so much gold in them, I never want to forget.

You say Delouse, I say DeLice

A family that delouses together stays together. Meg literally just high fived me because despite the crisis’ of the day we still managed to get the kids fed, bathed, storied, sang, and tucked IN addition to doing 3 loads of laundry (all the linens), delousing treatments x 4, and spend quality time together. What a fairy tale…right? I mean what else is there left for me to write. I think you get how this night may have been a nightmare.

Rewind to the beginning of the day when I took my 8 year old to daycare with her 2 and 3 year old siblings. It turns out that when school is out so is after care. I found this our last Thursday at 5pm. In a panic, I negotiated (in what I thought was a pinterest worthy idea) that K (she is the 8 year old) could help H (the baby boy) get comfortable at school. For the record, I am also aware of how this might backfire and make things harder for him. We get to choose our thoughts, I chose the most self serving for sure.

Well it was a disaster, due to some miscommunication in the daycare and animosity (aka concerned folks) it was reiterated that this accommodation for K was only for this week. I was grateful this generosity was extended. But also felt I felt awful it didn’t go better for H; and that K felt like she was in trouble for being there (her words…..cut straight to the heart). After a good amount of repair she is looking forward to tomorrow. An aside: lets to our best to keep adult conversations and comments to adult ears, little ears hear everything and they have sensitive souls.

I cried 4 times today.

I vacillate between feeling super encouraged/supported AND terrified that I am being judged for all the things I am screwing up so far. Thats my stuff; no one is purposefully contributing to my self-deprecation. Unless you are doing it on purpose and in that case, you should stop (be kind, karma is a bitch).

Then Anna left. She was here for approximately 48 hours but she is one of those friends that we connect with instantly no matter how much time has passed. The kids LOVED her. More about her trip in my less bitchy post. (Yes, there will be 2 tonight…..get excited).

Then my client who I scheduled on my day off, no showed.

Then during dinner, K was talking about her hair itching or something. After some investigation and googling; while totally down playing. We decided it was lice and we should treat. (this is where I fear some kind of judgement). It was very reminiscent of my childhood, self-disclosure I totally remember being treated for lice. And despite all the psychoeducation I did about lice this evening there is still some stigma attached that is degrading. We did our best to keep it upbeat and remind everyone that this wasn’t there fault. K admitted her head was itchy the day she got to our house but she was afraid to tell us because we might get mad at her.

Sigh.

65 dollas later (wrap it up and call it a Christmas present), 3 hours I can never get back, and all the laundry and we are (hopefully) lice free. I know the drill, recheck in a few days. But I swanny, the next treatment I will be paying someone else to do. For extra prevention Meg and I treated ourselves….prevention, hopefully.

Now let me make some lemonade out of these lemons. While I was treating M (my crazy 3 year old gal) we were watching Daniel Tiger, the greatest show. Netflix the whole series! You will relive your childhood (#itsabeautifuldayintheneighborhood). H (baby boy) fell right to sleep. Alone (while with meg and without his siblings)…that is a milestone for sure. While we were working on K’s hair we did some great talking. Learned ALOT. We received some cool coloring/activities books from FosterClub. You should absolutely check out there website (here). My teammate from college Jessica Gibson works for this organization and they developed these books for kids to understand foster care and other resources to navigate the system. It facilitated some great conversation. So in the end, there was some very needed quality one on one time, we listened to her heart and felt the connection grow stronger.

Another piece of good news: Dogs can’t get lice.

Single Parenting

I would like to give a standing ovation to single parents all over the world.

Megan left this morning for a work conference and won’t be back until tomorrow at 5pm. I cried when I said good-bye. For one, I always miss Meg when she is away. I really like her. But leaving me alone with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree….that is meltdown city. I tried to pep talk myself so she wouldn’t feel bad leaving but when she got into the rental car I was pretty worked up.

Lets pause to reflect that Meg is at a State of Georgia DBHDD Leadership Academy, she was selected to participate and we were so proud when she got the notice she was chosen. Congrats, Meg, you are awesome and I love that your work values you.

Back to my most recent melodramatic blog post. She left me. All a l o n e. No megan plus laraine, just lonely laraine.

So tonight while I was making cupcakes for the 3rd grade class Christmas Party I poured myself a large glass of wine. When the smallest violin ended its sad song for me, I knew I would blog about it.

Too bad Meg isn’t blogging, I bet she wouldn’t of recounted how I left her alone Tuesday night when I worked until 7:30pm. She looked pretty flustered when I got home that night. She had run the race but she was ready to sit her ass down and have some wine.

We’ve had a lot of saving graces this week. For one, we have a friend who we are going to utilize as a babysitter in the future (thankyouchristina) and she was here both Tuesday and tonight to help out and “get to know the kids.” It turns out we weren’t really alone; are we ever really alone? I feel pretty comfortable that there are at least 5 people I could 911 if I needed. I had to edit this number several times to include people who would die if I didn’t believe I could call on them; because they have already been there to pick up diapers, walk the dogs, bring chocolate and wine.

There are 2 main themes I can find in most posts. 1. This shit is hard (I am going to address that in a minute). 2. We are surrounded by generous, loving people who are amazing to us and are basically co-parenting this situation.

I enjoy telling the truth. The most raw, unedited version. That kind of transparency takes some guts (yes, I just patted myself on the back) and I hope (and know, because y’all tell me) its validating to folks in similar situations. HOWEVER, I have also heard flutterings that this seems too hard or even like we are struggling and can’t handle it; worse that I am scaring people away from ever wanting to foster parent.

Sigh, I understand this is like watching a train wreck, you don’t want to watch but you also can’t look away. I want to provide solace, I am generally sunny side up on the day to day (it annoys people). Y’all we are okay. Heck, we are more than okay. I mean we are struggling, but we are also overcoming and proving to ourselves everyday that this was the BEST decision we have made as a married couple. We love these kids (yes, you can refer back the anxiety post and the sword post to see the dangers and levels of love) BUT we really do. And they bring joy to our lives and to the people around us. I see it. I get to witness others witnessing our little circus and underneath the deer in headlights faces I see hearts beaming.

The best I can say is this will continue to be a dramatic comedy. With a little shimmer of feel good to set the world right again. I will leave you with this, this was my scene for the night….frosting cupcakes (i love baking) and drinking wine (I LOVE wine) and monitoring sleeping babies (they are my favorite when they sleep). wine and cupcakes.jpg

 

A double-edged sword

Earlier this week I alluded to the 8 year old child feeling guilty. There are several behaviors (mostly things she has said) that demonstrate the conflict for her. I want to give examples but I also want to protect her and her family. In general, there is a strong need for us to see her mom as cool and good. It seems when she picks up on characteristics that we value in people (even careers or hobbies), shortly thereafter we hear a story of how Mom was/is/does that too.

Today, sweet 8 year old mentioned said, “You and Laraine are the nicest parents I have ever had.”

Shit.

She said this to Megan, thank God. In my most amazing moments I would have had a perfect therapeutic answer. But in my exhausted, sore throat (thanks germ factory) moments, today I would of melted into tears on the floor.

Those tears would have demonstrated my ambivalence though. One edge of the sword is yay! My woo-ing skills are so badass, kids who are stripped from their family can be convinced to like me.

The other edge of the sword is one I was worried about (even before these babies were in our house). Its so nice to hear those words; like what a beautiful message of appreciation. But there is a strong part of me that doesn’t want any comparison statements to be made. And I love competition. This is not a competition I want to win.

Real talk: the likelihood is these kids will go home. They will leave our home, the one they have taken over and made their own…they will leave here and most likely return to where they came from. In an early post I said, these kids need their mama. I still believe that…they need a version of their mom that makes their home safe and them safe. As much as I want to show these kids how awesome it can be, I don’t want to tease them.

I don’t have a very good response or concluding statement about this. Last night when I was rocking baby boy to sleep he cuddled me so close; not like a stranger at all…I realized I should be preparing myself for when they go home. A smart therapist knows planning and prepping for termination begins at intake. I hope my heart will understand.

Visits and Visitors

It was this time last week our world turned upside down. Most of the time when people say that, they are referring to a terrible thing that unexpectedly occurred. We signed up for this “world turning” situation (and I am really glad we did). I am learning that all parenthood in any version is pretty crazy, fosterhood has an extra layer of crazy–we will file that under “visits and visitors”.

Since then we have tried to develop some sense or routine, mostly to ensure predictability for the kids and also to nurture my need for control. I think most therapists, moms, and people who have a clue would encourage this especially during such a transition. Well, let me just say every thing in the whole universe is trying to sabotage all of my plans. I promise I am coping and “letting go” (which is advice I freely give out) but I am annoyed, nonetheless.

I will keep this brief but in foster parenting you have a pretty hefty administration: the Department of Family and Children Services of the State of Georgia. And because we are part of an agency of “professional foster care” we also are accountable to Neighbor to Family our organization. And all of these bosses have to come into “visit.” As if being in a strangers home isn’t challenging enough, rando’s show up to “visit.”

An aside: I get why. I am part of this very disjointed system. I know everyone has to visit, lay on eyes on the kids, because no one can just talk to each other. Sorry, I was trying to be understanding. No, for real, I get it. I think we are relatively good people and should be trusted with kids. There are people who may not be as awesome as us; and for those reasons they need check-ins (and other really good reasons…I am out of examples).

AND….those visitors should keep the kids first. What is best for the kids might not be showing up at dinner time when you have coordinated to come during playtime. They haven’t eaten because they are still unsure of daycare so dinner is SUPER important. I may have been a little strong in my position with said case worker tonight. I will advocate for food to be consumed.

I promise I have all the grace in the world for said workers (I have great friends who do the job), that job is NOT easy, but lets work together here. So yea, a lot of visitors that are not our friends. And on a tired day when your iPhone 6plus breaks and about 10 other things don’t go your way, you may not be able to “fake” obligatory friendliness to the worker. In one week we have had 4 different “case workers” visit; it seems excessive but I am trying to be open minded. Thats just real life. I promise I see their perspective; curse of the therapist.

You are doing your best AND you can do better. Thanks DBT.

On the other hand we have had some friends visit and the kids love it. Anyone who has experienced it will vouch they are friendly and they wave and smile and play. They are pretty comfortable at home and its nice to welcome friends in to live life with us.

Okay, visits. The nitty gritty. Any kid who comes into foster care is supposed to have a medical and dental appointment within 72 hours. Times 3. That is a lot of doctors, a lot of vaccines, and a lot of crying kids. And those said doctors are thorough and I respect that. I love our pediatrician, she is smart and kind and I have spent more time with her this week than my own PCP. Can I get an amen? I hang on every word she says, which leads to long appointments. I never use sick time at work, thanks kids. Also, they go to the germ factory (aka school) everyday so I am sure that sweet pediatrician will be seeing more of me. In addition to doctors and dentists, each kid will get a trauma assessment to see if a psychological is warranted. Regardless, the verbal children deserve some individual therapy (says the therapist). I am itching to get that started. Today we received a social work referral for speech therapy and babies can’t wait. And I also got resources for every kid issue under the sun. I think the doc also recommended getting them involved in some extracurricular activity.

With all my free time I will get right on that.

Oh, and we got a flyer that it is “Holiday Spirit Week.” I gotta run to make some holiday themed outfit for tomorrow and cupcakes for Friday.

Yolo.

 

Guilt Part 1

I call this part 1 because there will definitely be others. I often say to mothers in my office that I think when a baby is born a cloud of guilt floats out to hang over the mother’s head for life. No matter how well you can work a cognitive triangle there is some level of feeling bad in most decisions.

This was our first weekend with 3 little lives to feed, entertain, and keep safe (in no particular order). Well its safe to say the guilt cloud exists even if you didn’t birth the babies and you have only known them a week.

Saturday, we decided (refer to “Hard choices” blog for our stance on this….hint: eight ball) to drive one hundred and twenty-two miles to Grovetown, GA to visit our “framily.” Mike, Dani, Zephie, Zeke, Isaiah, and Grandma Dot loved on us and in their mere presence I felt better. Its pretty cool how people can do that. Just the relationship and connection brings peace and fills you with love. I hope we do that for people they way they do. The trip was long but included a nice Chick-fila stop. 15 minutes from Thomson, there is nothing, so of course the 8 year old announces she has to go to the bathroom. We don’t make it. Thomson doesn’t come soon enough and she has an accident. This is NOT her fault. Like many things in these sweet kids lives (all kids, really) not their fault. But the guilt I write about tonight is not just my own. She was so shamed, even though we assured her that accidents happen and long highways make for tricky bathroom stops. Let’s ping that guilt on over to me.

Although the visit was exactly what we needed it took the kids a L O N G time to warm up (duh). I knew it wouldn’t be “automatic-free-for-all-play” like its Disneyland situation but I didn’t attend to those warning feelings. I knew Meg and I needed the support. Just for someone to witness our lives for a day and feel loved and encouraged. Early on, right before nap time (which is a recharge time for me too) I was feeling so guilty. What if this was a bad idea and maybe we should just leave? What if the kids needed more time to adjust to just us and our house and this was a mistake? What if they don’t say a word the entire time we are here? What if this takes us back 400 steps? I wonder if Meg felt this. What if Megan didn’t really want to make the trip but I pressured her? What if we offend others in Augusta because we aren’t visiting them? I never really resolved those feelings, I coped and swallowed the big lump, cried a few times and kept on. Fast forward to later on in the visit and everyone was running and jumping and smiling and painting and dancing and being held and tickled. But enough of that fairy tale ending; we had to say good-bye. A new guilt came back, one I know well but haven’t thought in awhile. I felt guilty for picking up my family and moving 2 hours from all we knew.

Guilt got punted back to our 8 year old. Its terribly tough to articulate but I am afraid she is feeling some guilt for having fun with us. I will leave that right there.

Guilt is a motherfucker (sorry Mom, I typed for 10 minutes and still didn’t come up with another way to describe it. It rides shotgun and tries to drive your car; it gives wrinkles and grey hair (ugh, I need to get my hair done). Here are a few reasons I felt the yucky guilt word this weekend:

I felt guilty for any time I had to redirect (kind word for discipline) a child today….its clear the honeymoon is ending and we are seeing some ornery behavior.
I felt guilty for taking a little too long at Costco and leaving Meg with the kids who woke up from their nap.
I felt guilty for being sassy to my mom when she made a generous offer that wasn’t what I wanted.
I felt guilty because I fed the kids fast-food 2 times in one day.
I felt guilty because I worried that Megan wasn’t getting the support she needed from me.
I felt guilty because our dogs aren’t getting the best attention.
I felt guilty because I am worried I can’t be the employee I have been.
I felt guilty because its Sharon’s birthday and we didn’t get her anything; not even a card. (Happy birthday Sharon Hiers, we are so glad you were born and celebrate you).
I felt guilty because the oldest has a Christmas performance Tuesday night and I have group therapy the same time and won’t be able to go to her performance because I have to work; and I am secretly hoping she won’t want to go so I don’t miss it.

(there are more but I am starting to feel shitty so I am going to move on for now).

I will end with a few notes I collected from Church.
1. I wish church was everyday, it was just like being at Mike and Dani’s, that same love was evident and the kids did pretty good.
2. “Listening at church” was a little more challenging than normal but I loved the message; the theme of being who you were meant to be “right now” and to jump ship from the perpetual ladder climbing is my jam.
3. The blood of Jesus. Not actually blood but when you are 8; everything is literal. Therefore, I got 3 servings of communion today. Extra holy….we all know I need it.
4. The cacophony of children talking and giggling through the whole service was much needed validation.

Tomorrow is Monday; la escuela. This week comes with challenges of its own. Meg will be gone Thursday night and I am terrified.

Bless you all.

Friday Night House Party

Yo yo yo. Just chillaxin’ at the hizzous on this live Friday evening. Ooh, ooh.
Was that cool? I am so cool. I am sorry for the super late post (1am) we were just up house partying. Yea the attire was sweatpants. (Doesn’t anyone remember hit to or kick it nights?) This is our new normal and I LOVE IT. Wine, dark chocolate, and goldfish (notice the hydration present….we have to care for small children, lets stay focused).IMG_4307

But for real, this is exactly what we needed tonight. And Megan may of fallen asleep with her hood on; this is a no shame zone. In that vein, its fair to say I am nice and “warm” for this here blog post.

There are a few things to note over here at #instantparenthood

  1. This week I really attempted to relate to the children so I should be approached as an overtired toddler.
  2. Court dates do not equal information
  3. Things are going better are relative
  4. There is a lot of different kinds of love
  5. Kids are curious and also very accepting

I digress.

1. Even when the kids are sleeping it’s not that easy for me. I am so alert that my sleep is so light. I hear every noise. Our 3rd grader is a loud sleeper. She talks all night long. I fear she will wake up her siblings with every movement. I am on the edge of my seat watching this play out in the monitor. This equals a lowered inhibition to bullshitting. Generally I respect that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar; in this sate of sleep I don’t even want to catch flies, I want to swat them to the ground and stomp them. Beware, especially the ones I love the most and feel totally safe with…as f’d up as it is, you get the short end of the stick. I know this isn’t forever. I will eventually be of sound mind; until then take cover and be nice to me.

2. People have been interested in details. Of course there is so much confidentiality (story of my life) involved I am limited to what I can share. That sounds so mystic and guarded. The reality is I know little to nothing. I make stories up in my head to draw conclusions. I am pretty smart (even in my exhausted state, so I am probably right…..you want to argue with that? Refer to #1). The best I can say is that we are “safely” housing an 8 year old female, a 3 year old female, and a 2 year old female. More affectionately known as our smart 3rd grader, wacky 3 year old, and baby boy. Entertain this tangent for a minute……2 and 3 year old are not very verbal but when they get super comfy and chat us up they are doing so in spanish. Does anyone want to recall my expertise as a Mexican in the language of Spanish? No bueno.
We have no idea how long they will be here. Each day they are here makes it harder to consider them ever leaving. They are adjusting to routine. They like food, all kinda but mostly goldfish and cookies. I will take the caloric intake as it comes.
They have other brothers and sisters, they are not in our home but we really hope they will get to visit them soon. I can’t imagine being away from my sister without communication (she drives me crazy but I like being around her….its a comfort thing, right sissy face?)
There was a court date today. I anxiously awaited news. None, it was continued. What does that mean. Yo no sey.
For Christmas (many people have asked what should we get them) honestly I don’t know. I would like a mini van and my mother to visit. I think the kids would like toys. No legos, I heard those hurt to step on. I think a play kitchen would be awesome. And dress up clothes, this is a great age for imaginative play.
They are adjusting at school. Every day is a little better. Praise the Lord.
They like routine and count on us to follow the predictable schedule (which fits perfect into my need for control…cheers).

3. I said it before I will say it again, Things are better. Actually things are about the same but Meg and I are coping and managing things better. The initial shock is wearing off and we are dug into our roles and are kicking ass. I even folded some laundry. I die.

4. Love. I love love. Its important to know I live on the “love love love” side of the love spectrum. It makes sense I promise. How we feel about these kids:
a. we love them: we have been commanded by Christ to love one another. NO doubt. we LOVE them; we compelled as Christ followers to pour out the love in our heart for people around us. This love is for everyone, my squatter neighbor to  my mom.
b. Like love. We like love them: they are so entertaining. They bring joy to our life. The highs of our experiences build this level of love.
c. affinity love: the kind that grows your heart. the kind that makes me think about these babies all day and plan for what we can do to make the most of our time together. The attachment love. This love is growing more and more each day. I feel connected and weaved into their lives. Its getting harder to imagine our home without them. Even typing this causes me to shed a tear….I can feel how real it is becoming; they know it too.

5. They have asked enough questions and figured out we are married. Conversation as follows:
3rd grader: (looking at our Canadian wedding picture) you are wearing a dress?
Me: Yes.
3rd grader: why? (note: I often wear dresses, she is asking because she knows something is different about this)
Me: Funny you should ask. This is a picture of me and Megan getting married in Canada. And over here is a picture of us on our wedding day with our family (refers to large portrait, impossible to miss).
3rd grader: Oh, you got married.
Me: Yes
(she notices the next picture, its a “you may now kiss the bride shot”- thx courtney….)
Me: And that is one of us kissing (makes gross face….kissing is gross to 8 year olds).
3rd grader: Why did you get married?
Me: Because we loved each other and wanted to be together forever.
3rd garder: is that allowed?
ME: Yes. When 2 people love each other they are allowed to be married.
3rd grader: Oh, cool.
Me: Do you want to get married?
3rd grader: yea, but not today.
(resume play and parade of picture viewing).
We got a smart girl on our hands. Lets focus on the academics for a little while longer.
then we continued on with the rest of our night. And not to jinx this but its been the best night since. All the love we’ve shared is growing and growing. Don’t anyone what if this little wine buzz I am on, I plan on sleeping sweetly next to my wife (the one I love and married, because its allowed).

 

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