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.