Sunday, January 12, 2014

Balanced in this Tension

Each day has it's ups and downs, but life definitely has a feeling of routine to it now.  The first 6 months had more wild swings of up and down than the last four weeks have had.

Over the last seven months, I have:

- questioned my sanity
- wondered how anyone could be a single parent
- thought about changing careers because holy cow, teachers don't make enough money to support a family
- cried a lot, which says a lot, because I'm not a crier
- taken mental snapshots of beautifully glorious moments in our lives that I want to treasure forever
- connected with friends that I'd lost contact with (being a mom is an awesome glue that pulled us together)
- relied on the wisdom of women who had previously been strangers, but they are also walking this oh, so difficult path of "middle mom", therefore they are now friends, confidants and sage advisers
- learned anew how to balance the personal and professional aspect of life
- figured out how to keep her engaged while getting necessary paper work or house work done, or even just make a quick, but necessary phone call (This is huge!)
- learned more of the vernacular of foster care
- begun to understand what the underlying question is based on a stated question, whether from her or from a case worker
- been blessed beyond measure to be a little girl's middle mom for whatever amount of time she will be here

We are balanced in the tension of the unknown.  How long will she be here?  Should I make Thanksgiving plans?  Can we travel for Christmas?  Should I go ahead and buy a PRECIOUS Easter dress I saw the other day?  Should I make her 6 month dental appointment?  What about the upcoming summer?  Should I make any plans for a small vacation for the two of us?  Anyone on a budget knows you make plans as far in advance as you can to get the best deal.  That's very hard to do when I have no idea how long my family will be a family of 2.

Balanced in the tension of planning for the long term: I'm hoping to buy a house this calendar year, Lord willing.  If I do that while she is living with me, it means I have 30 days from move-in to have all the inspections, paperwork, etc completed for the new home that I had for my current home.  Ha!

Balanced in the tension of my heart.  Do I protect it?  Do I give it away?  I've been to the trainings.  I know.  GIVE IT AWAY!  is the best answer for her.  She needs to know she's loved.  She needs to know she's emotionally safe.  There are days, I give her my whole heart.  There are days I don't.  I'm just being honest here.  There are nights I'm 100% emotionally available for her for as long as she needs me, and there are nights I just want to crawl back in bed.  There are days I drop her off at my parents' house, because it's easier to run errands on my own.  And there are days we run errands together, because she needs to learn how, and we need to be together.  There are days I answer "why?" 1,001 times without blinking an eyelash, and there are days I stop the questions after #10.  I'm getting better at giving her my heart 100% of the time.  I want her to be so emotionally safe and secure and loved because she has so much of my heart that I am in the fetal position when she leaves.

Balanced in the tension of ownership: She often wants to know "Is this mine?" and I have to cautiously answer that question each time.  There are many things that are 100% hers and will go with her whenever she leaves.  There are many things that are hers for as long as she lives here.

Balanced in the tension of timing:  This was harder in the summer time, because I was so unaccustomed to the interactions from the state and CPS was still figuring out a schedule for family visits.  It was hard to leave for a few hours and be an hour or so away, because they may call and say they were on their way to get her.  Also, the long term timing.  Each court date could change something drastic, or it may change nothing at all.

Balanced in the tension of names: She knows she calls me Alyssa.  She knows what my students call me, too.  She knows she calls her mom "Mommy".  We call ourselves a "team."  We work together and play together.  We're in this together.  We're a team.

She has a place in my heart.  When she leaves here, she will still have a place in my heart, even if we never see each other again.

Balanced in the tension of this thing we call Foster Care.      

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Budgets and Meals

Hey, we all eat out too much, right?

I love my diet coke from a fountain, so that became my excuse to stop at McD's or CFA each morning.  If I'm going to stop, I might as well eat breakfast, too, right?  It's not healthy or cheap, but I did it anyway.  Then J joins the bandwagon and the $ increases, not to mention the bad modeling of healthy eating.  Schedules are busy, and we occasionally race from one event to the next, and the only viable option is eating in the car.  Again, not healthy or cheap.


I don't want to do that anymore.

I've made our menu through next Sunday.  We will be eating food from our fridge, freezer and pantry for the foreseeable future.

I will admit that Christmas and two weeks off work, thus more possibilities to run errands, see movies and shop, mean the budget is tight, which is what spurred this.  However, it is totally doable.

Next weekend, I will see how we did at sticking to our menu and re-evaluate, but I still think we'll make it two weeks before going to the grocery store, and I haven't been in a month as it is.  Admittedly some of the meals will include slightly creative menu items, but hey, that makes cooking fun. :)

When Major Life Change Becomes Routine

I wrote several blog posts in the summer and fall, because I enjoy using writing as an outlet, and it is an effective way to share what is going on in our lives.  It tapered off though, when the extraordinary became routine.

I know what to do now when there is/are:
-two people getting ready for school or church
-a little one awake in the night
-multiple things on the calendar at the same time
-doctor's appointments
-dentist appointments
-a schedule change she needs to be prepped for
-a visit with bio family
-negotiations over the number of green beans to be eaten or television to be watched
-fears that don't seem to make sense but are there regardless
-excitement that knows no bounds
-visitors coming over that want to inspect random things and look at paperwork

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a perfect mom by ANY MEANS, but I enjoy being a mom.

Right now, she's on the floor at the coffee table drawing a picture and talking to herself while she works.  But, just a minute ago, she was cuddled next to my side in my overstuffed chair, holding my hand while sucking her thumb and asking me questions about what I was doing on the computer.  I love both of these things!  I love the cuddling, and I love hearing her thought process while she's drawing a picture.  I love that she is comfortable here and knows she is loved.  

In short, the extraordinary-turns-your-life-upside-down action of becoming a mom has become routine.  There aren't as many updates, and that's okay.

Life now includes two.  It won't always.  There will probably be a day in the not so distant future, when it is back to one.  And in all honesty, I don't even know how to prep myself for being one again.  We talk about the possibilities of differences for her, but it will be a huge change for both of us regardless of how much prep we do.  I probably won't post much then either.  I will probably curl up on my couch with a box of Kleenex and all the lights off.

But for now, I will enjoy the constant activity of a precious 5 year old, and I will trust God for tomorrow, and I will smile.