February 2013 I took my daughters to Winnipeg. Sloane* desperately wanted to see snow. We’d hardly had any at that point. So we packed up for an extended weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. In snow covered Winnipeg the temperatures ranged from –10 celcius to -30. We attended a festival, ice skated, and hiked all out of doors. Elise* and I were not fit for the climate. Sloane, however, loved the frosty temperatures.
Last year my life was complete different than it is now. The change in weather this winter seems to accentuate this fact. It’s been bitterly cold – often -20 – and there have been more snow storms than I care to count.
This time last year my house was full with four girls. Most weekends there were one or two extras. Sloane was struggling in school and refusing to use the toilet. Most days were challenging beyond belief.
Now I’m homeschooling. There are a few accidents here and there – but out of carelessness not the defiance Sloane exhibited last year. In the midst of last year’s challenges, it was difficult to image a way out. For some, change is subtle and hardly detectible. For me it’s dramatic and extreme. And I do it all the time.
After great reflection on my plight with the local Children’s Aid, I’ve decided to return to the private agency. I fostered with them for five years. Somewhere deep in my heart was a dream of rocking babies to sleep. That hasn’t happened. The closest I came to a baby was the 16mth old who was bigger than my 4yr old – Elise (see from 2 to 4).
So here I am – back where I was – only everything has changed. There are new policies and procedures. Regardless of my five years of spotless service, I have a six month probation period where I can only provide relief for other foster parents. “There aren’t any exceptions to the new policy,” the director informed me. I’m accustomed to being exceptional. Everything about me is exactly that – exceptional.
I don’t like this new rule. But at least I’ll be able to provide relief for my friend’s three girls. They’ve been coming to me weekends and vacation time since she got them – one 5yrs years ago, the other two 4yrs ago. It’ll be another 4yrs before two of them age out of foster care. And 8yrs before the other turns 18. The girls and their foster parents have become like family. Though we’ve still spent a great deal of time together, my girls really miss having them over “to sleep. It’s so much better,” Sloane tells me. I’m happy to be having them back on a regular basis. But I really don’t like this new policy.
At the same time, I can’t do another round of 6wks. That’s how long all the children from the local Children’s Aid have stayed. I’m not cut out for the coming and going, nor are my girls. It’ll be better for us all when someone comes to stay.
Here I go changing again. I can promise you next year will look nothing like this year.