Saturday, May 30, 2015

Seeing Cricket soon

I talked to Cricket again over the phone, after talking to Gina.  We made plans for a play date at a park next week.  Her therapist suggested a play date with Gina there rather than me coming to pick her up, which is smart.  We decided to have Cricket's sister there as well, just to help with any worries Cricket may have that we're coming to take her from her new home.

I'm nervous.

I keep playing back in my mind, those precious fifteen minutes I had with Pterodactyl, one month after she moved.  When she looked at me quizzically, and reached her hand up to touch my face.  To see if this was still the person who played the role of mother in her life for seven months.

Cricket is older, and she will talk more and interact more, but I know the same question may be in her heart.  Is this still the person who played the role of mother in my life for seven months?

I long to hold her, but I know I will be overcome with the emotion that will bring.  Will she ask me to pick her up?  And hold her like a baby?

I'm also having the anniversary longings to see and hold Caterpillar, the same way last year I was longing to see and hold Pterodactyl as annual events brought up memories.  We went to the same park today that we went to about a year ago with him, where I pushed him on a swing and have some precious pictures.  I really miss that happy little guy.

I hold them all in my heart and never let go.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Okay, I think taking a break finally kicked in and I feel at ease.  This is funny, because as of today we're on the list for calls.  I really think having a respite placement to look forward to is helping me.  Whether or not we get a call before then, we know a baby is coming for a week.  I also know we'll be a little more particular on who we say yes to, knowing we have a baby with some needs coming for a week, and somehow this has me more relaxed, just knowing that it's more than likely we may say no anyway.

We had a nice out-of-state trip, with an overnight away from the boys and then some time with my parents.  Lots of outside time, which I think has been a factor in relaxing me as well.  I do love a good hike and a little exploring.  I'm slowly gathering gear so that I can go on Mommy-needs-to-disappear-into-the-woods little backpacking trips.

I also felt like my mind was suddenly freed up to think about some of my passions other than foster care.  I love being passionate about foster care, but it is a really good thing to talk about other things and learn and dream.

So much one-on-one time with Rhinoceros is still driving me a bit nutty, but we had a pretty good day today.  And in less than two weeks, school will be out and Dinosaur will be home, which will be a good thing.

Life is not perfect, but I'm looking back at what we've come through, looking at now and feeling grateful, and looking ahead and feeling a strange peace.  Now if I could bottle this and find contentment all the other times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A bit of the future, a bit of the past

I got an e-mail asking about a respite placement in June for a week, and we said yes.  Baby time!  When we did respite for Beetle for a week, he was at a similar age.  I'm really looking forward to it.

  In the meantime, we're a bit on the fence on whether or not to take placement calls.  I, as usual, want to just see what happens and say no if it's a placement that's beyond our experience.  I feel like we can make it work for a week, especially since I'm off work in June.  B is more hesitant, doesn't see why we don't take as many breaks as we can.  But for me, the breaks are not fully breaks.  Even though I'm not waiting on the phone to ring, I know there are kids that need us.  I try to fill up my empty days but I really just want a new case to dive into if we're needed.  I've appreciated breaks, but after having one when Cricket left the first time, now another after she left the second time, I'm not hoping to extend this one by our own planning.  Now, if we happened to get no calls, great.  We have a few more days to decide.

In the meantime, I got to talk to Cricket last week.  Rhinoceros bounced upstairs when he heard she was on the phone, and their little conversation was hilarious and of course heartbreaking for me, as I miss hearing them talk together so much.  It sounds like she's doing well, and we hope to have a playdate sometime next month.

I reached out to my connections to other past placements as well, hoping for something.  I got a response from Pterodactyl's caseworker (or former caseworker now, of course), and two pictures!  Oh, it is amazing to look at that little face, now a toddler.  To see those same expressions grown up a little.  It was the first I had seen of her in a year and a half.  Somehow the pictures gave me the connection I longed for and helped me accept that I may never see her in person.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Loose ends

Closure happens slowly after a foster child leaves.  There are reminders popping up here and there, things to process, things to do.
  • Gathering the leftovers.  I never pack well enough.  After a move, I find a child's stuff everywhere.  I found socks for Pterodactyl, Beetle, and Caterpillar months later.  Oh, and pacifiers.  So many pacifiers.  I'm collecting Cricket's little things I'm finding in a basket for when we see her next.  It's a pretty full basket already.
  • YouTube suggestions.  Cricket's favorite videos are suggested to me daily.
  • Memory items to finish.  We made a handprint on a little canvas for our wall of handprints, but somehow I can't bring myself to put in the nail and hang it up yet.  I also completely forgot until now that months ago when we first thought she was moving "soon" I bought a recordable book, as she loves one that was given to Rhinoceros.  So, I need to record that for her and give to her.
  • Office calls.  It hasn't happened this time, but usually I have doctors' offices, etc. calling me about future appointments and such and I have to give the phone number of the new home.
  • People that didn't get to say goodbye.  The back-and-forth never-100%-sure nature of the end of Cricket's placement kept us from holding a goodbye party.  Adults understand, but I forget that there are kids that knew her and now suddenly don't see her.  Our babysitter's little girl was so confused when I dropped off Rhinoceros but not Cricket.  In the past several months, she'd talked about them as a unit: RhinocerosCricket.  I feel bad she didn't get closure, as they likely would have come for a goodbye party.
Goodbyes are messy.

Blessed by Cricket

I didn't write this post after the first time Cricket left, when I didn't think she was coming back.  And I've been hesitant to write it now.  I'm just overwhelmed with how much there is to say about what we learned from Cricket and loved about her.  I could have written a post longer than the babies' after her first week here, let alone after eight months.

What I learned from Cricket
  • You can plan ages for placements, but you are just guessing.  We thought we wouldn't have virtual twins with our planning, but we were wrong.  We expected two big brothers and a little sister, but we got a fierce competition for baby and middle child at the same time.
  • But it's okay, because God had more planned anyway.  Had we said no to Cricket knowing she would be so combative, aggressive, and overall upsetting for Rhinoceros (and sometimes Dinosaur), we would have missed out on the absolutely beautiful friendship/siblingship that developed after a few months.  What Cricket brought out of Rhinoceros still blows my mind.  I had no idea this imaginative, assertive, fiercely loving child was within my quiet little guy.
  • Plan on transitions taking six times longer than planned.  Maybe 10.  Seriously, I keep thinking that I'm keeping in my mind that it will be delayed, but the delay is always longer and crazier than I really let myself imagine.
  • Regression can be intense and it can be healing.  I won't ever forget those moments of cradling this big girl, seeing in her eyes more than what she could tell.
  • What works with other kids may not work with kids who have experienced trauma.  I knew this in my head, but had to experience it.  I will never forget the first time I closed a door intending to give us each a couple minutes to regroup, the wailing from behind that door, and the long time it took to rebuild that trust.
  • I can survive without some of those things I counted on because they worked with other kids.  I made it through when Cricket wouldn't sit and watch a show (eventually she did).  When our house suddenly required a lot more supervision, I learned how to plan chores around that and accept what just didn't get done.
  • Hair care.  I had to laugh at my post on what I learned with Caterpillar.  I had so much to learn. Oh, and I learned to get help with hair before the first family visit.
  • In Christ, all of us can do more than we imagine, and more than we imagine for each other.  B and I were loving parents of a little girl who was very sad and angry about what has happened in her life, still is.  In September, Cricket would only tell us she wanted to eat because she didn't know how to express the hurt she felt.  By December, she was talking about her feelings way beyond kids her age usually can, and continued to do so the rest of the placement.  Dinosaur and Rhinoceros who felt their peaceful home life ripped away from them when she arrived came to absolutely adore Cricket.  I truly believe all of this was possible by prayer, ours and from those around us.
What I Loved about Cricket
  • Her big grin.  Toothy, beautiful, joyful.
  • How she did things with a purpose.  She was just amazing to watch sometimes.  Drawing little circles.  Cutting up little pieces of papers, gluing them, cutting them again.  Dressing herself with whatever she found lying around.  Always intently, like this was her new purpose in life.
  • Her interest in people.  She reported what happened with "some people."  After being in nursery, "some people took my toy."  After meeting some of my relatives, "some people played with me."  Then she went through a phase of greeting everyone in the store like she was in a parade.  And then asking every person she could find, "Are you a grown-up?  Do you like coffee?"
  • Our conversations.  I still can't believe the vocabulary on this young girl, and how she would navigate a conversation with confidence even if she had the words wrong.  It didn't matter that she said yellow and the real color was orange.  She's already moved on, folks.
  • Her arguments.  Okay, mostly they drove me insane.  But now that they're over, they're hilarious.  How she daily insisted to Rhinoceros that those were NOT doorbells, just because she wanted to contradict him.  How she argued with song lyrics on the radio.  "Let's all get up and dance to a song that was hit before your mother was born."  "No, I can't dance!  I buckled!!"  How she argued with Jesus.  In some random story she said out of nowhere, "And I told Jesus, NO!  Bathroom words are for the bathroom!"
  • Her speed and strength.  This little girl could outrun and wrestle something away from the older boys no problem.  There's something to be said about a fierce girl who can hold her own.
  • The songs in her heart.  Cricket loved songs the way teens obsessed with their favorite bands loved songs.  She sang them, wanted me to sing them, wanted to watch them, and performed them with a purpose (see above).  Jesus Loves Me, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Let It Go, and the songs from Annie will never be the same to me.
  • I just can't it put it all into words.  She has my heart and then some.  When she had to come back here a second time, her caseworker said that Gina was having a tough time missing her, saying "I get it, you know, just the way Cricket is.  You just have to love her."
Indeed.  I love you forever, little girl.  I know you're not staying with us forever, but if you did, I would pick you up 10,000 times.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

I think I have a lot of writing to get out, but I haven't been able to do it yet.  At first I felt catharsis after Cricket left, then I felt irritable and just not myself.  I had a great Mother's Day and feel pretty happy, but there's still some weird numbness about it all.  Kids leaving your home when they've been so central to your life, to your heart.  It's just weird.

I sent a text to Gina* today.  I imagined being in her shoes on Mother's Day.  I don't know her relationships with her children and if they are positive, but I know she is doing more mothering than grandmothering than she expected.  I'm sure she didn't plan on a 3-year-old living with her, but she has embraced Cricket and loved her.  So, I just sent her a note saying I want to acknowledge all she does for Cricket and her sister and to wish her a happy Mother's Day.

I sent my own mom a little package, made a Facebook post, Skyped.  Mostly I was thinking of her sacrifices she made when we were young kids, especially as my dad worked long hours, and her tender heart that I've inherited.  She's taught me that when you have a heart for hurting people, you act on it even though it may cause you pain, and I'm very grateful for that.

There are some mothers I won't speak to today, but I'm thinking of them.  Here are some of my thoughts and prayers:

For a mother who knows she will never parent some of her children, who is still fighting for one, who went to rehab.  I pray that she can overcome addiction, and also that her children will know they are loved and valuable no matter how successful she is in her fight against addiction.
For a mother who knows she will never parent some of her children, who seems to have given up.  I pray she knows that God never ever gives up on her.
For a mother who came to the United States for a better future for her children, and then had to pick up the pieces as her daughter lost her children.
For a mother who made little mistake after little mistake that added up to disaster.  I pray that she knows she is not stupid.  She is a child of God, wonderfully created.
For a mother who faced a childhood of abandonment and neglect herself before becoming a mother.  I pray that she accepts the help that she needs and claims her identity in Christ, that the foundation of belief in God that she has expressed will overwhelm her life and help her overcome her obstacles.

Motherhood can be beautiful, but it can also be broken and tragic.  I pray for redemption, for this imperfect mother and all the others.

*sister's grandma, forgot I started using this name until I started looking back at old posts

Monday, May 4, 2015

Goodbye again

Yep, Gina's license was approved!  I couldn't completely believe the e-mail after all these months of checking, so I just had to check the state website where I can dig around and find all licensed family.  Yep, it was true.  We got the news after bedtimes, so we told the kids the morning she was leaving.  The reactions of Cricket and Rhinoceros were simultaneous: one of joy, one of sorrow.  Poor Rhinoceros.  He's going to need some cheering up this week having lost his best friend a second time.  But, as one of my friends gave me perspective, some amount of loss is normal and not unhealthy for kids.  They move, they change daycares, they move nursery rooms, friends move.  His will be a bit more intense, but we'll get through this.  I'm looking to spoil him a bit this week, though.  He got a Build-a-Bear gift certificate from a drawing, so we'll be making our first ever trip there.

Cricket was thrilled, but still asked when I was going to pick her up from Granny's house, and I had to remind her that if I did come to pick her up, it would be just to play together, then she would go right back to Granny's house.  It'll take time to sink in.  Gina suggested we have her stay over here on a weekend at some point, but the therapist had cautioned against that as it would confuse her on where her home was.  We'll let her settle in again and figure it out later.

And as for me?  It was simply cathartic to finally see that license happen.  And even better, Gina hadn't gotten the news yet when I called her to plan the move, and so I told her.  Her response was so full of joy and relief that it just washed away any doubt that this was not a good move.  These weren't doubts from anything Gina had done or anything, but from Caterpillar's relative backing out after his move.  She is fostering Cricket because she loves her granddaughter and wants her granddaughter to benefit from having her sister with her, but it's clear she also truly loves Cricket as well.  So, I'm feeling mostly positive emotions right now, besides concern for how the boys are doing.  And I'm grateful.  I'm grateful we got to love her and know her, I'm grateful she has other people who love her, and I'm grateful we learned so much in the process.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

First Day May 2015 - Playground tourism

Whew, this was a busy first day.  Dinosaur had a school performance (not pictured, as I had the little ones take 20 selfies to keep them busy but didn't manage a non-identifying picture) and Cricket had a visit, all with awkward timing that we had gaps of time to fill.  Since it was a nice day, that meant we did some playground touring: three different ones in one day.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Awkward Moments in Foster Care: Visit house

When we brought Cricket for her visit today (yep, she's still here), the visit house was a madhouse.  It was nice outside so one mother and daughter were playing outside, and the mom had brought outside toys for her daughter.  We're supposed to cut through the back yard to go into the house, so my kids all ran at the outside toys to play, not realizing they weren't brought for them.  Some bubble fluid might have been dumped and I felt awful. My kids also have a tough time understanding that the visit house has a lobby they should stay in while they wait, and they tend to roam like they're at a friend's house to play, and I lose track of someone with everyone coming and going.

So, amidst that chaos, a girl says, "Hi, Dinosaur."  He says hi back.  I realize she's a classmate of his, there for a family visit.  I tried to focus on my little kids so I wouldn't make eye contact or even look like I was trying to glance at the parent(s) she was visiting with.  I've been trying really hard to connect with other families at Dinosaur's school, but this was so not what I was hoping for.  No awkward conversations ensued, but still awkward vibes in the air.