It's been quite a week. The first couple of days had some normal-feeling sadness but mostly doing pretty well, relief at coming to the end. But then a sadness I didn't expect settled in, one that wasn't wistful at missing him, but one that just had me down and crabby about everything. Thankfully I think I'm shaking most of that off and am feeling a little more like myself, a little more ready to appreciate the break and reenergize from it.
We decided on our break length. Three months. This is the longest we've had, but it's after the longest placement as well. We may have gone for two months, but B is on a work trip for a week in May, and while I know some people deal with that all the time, it is not common in our family and I didn't think it would be good timing to go back on a call list. Because you just know we'd get a call that week. Oh, that week is also my birthday and Mother's Day. So, nope.
Here are some of my fostering break priorities:
- A family trip: It's always good to have a trip that is absolutely just the four of us. We do a lot of trips that involve extended family, but it's good to just go by our own plans alone. There's a big city within a few hours' drive that we have never been to with the kids, so we have a great Big City Trip planned. I'm really looking forward to museums with kids who are old enough to enjoy them, in which one of us isn't burdened by running after the youngest child/children when the half-hour of interest runs out. Rhinoceros also loves our city bus, so I'm guessing city mass transit will blow his mind.
- Family photos: I'm still working on finding something that's not outrageous but still trustworthy. But we've never done a family session with a professional, established photographer, and it's something I really want to do before the kids get much older. I'm also very excited to do the handprint idea.
- Having friends over: I'm a little more social than some introverts, but that energy gets drained and I'm definitely done. As much as I dearly love Crocodile's sisters and value their bond with him, having them over for sibling visits almost every other weekend zapped my reserves for hosting any kids. Plus we were just busier and the house was a little extra messy, you know, for 18 months. I feel like I can catch up a little and invite people over I've never had over, and invite closer friends over (that I invited occasionally anyway amidst the chaos) more often. Rhinoceros has a little kindergarten friends and the parents are really excited for him to come over as often as we'll have him, so we'll do that a lot. Especially as it helps Rhinoceros to have a special friend when he's missing Crocodile as his playmate.
- Be a little more involved in my passions: Besides fostering, I am passionate about public schools and immigration. There's a lot going on nationally with both topics, but also a lot going on in the ways that I work in these areas locally. I can do a little more than usual with the mental energy to focus on it, and it's good to refocus.
- Re-organize and clean the house: Ugh, I don't really want to tackle these things because it's gotten so bad (Did I give up on crayon on the walls? Maybe.), but I know it's the best time to do so. I'll actually spring clean. We really, really will steam-clean the carpets this spring. I promise.
- Knit: I have a gift to knit, and I want to get at least another project well underway.
- Read: I haven't been reading for fun much lately, and I think it would be good to start a series that then I can continue when fostering as a way to unwind.
- Date nights: We have two scheduled two weekends in a row, not entirely intentional, but that will be nice. Plus we got some open gym gift certificates where you can drop off the kids if they are school-age, so we'll use those up as well. We already just had a weekend away as a couple, so we won't do that, but we'll be really generous with the date nights.
Three months. It will feel long, but I think it will be good and I need that space. The kids keep talking about "the next friend that stays with us" but we think they need that space, too. It was tempting to go even longer and make summer planning easier, but I know I would start to long to get back into the game.
Week one finished. I'll make sure to get in some of that knitting tomorrow.