Knowing it Won’t Work

Jake* has been with us the past three weekends. Today he returned and will be staying for 10 days while his foster family are on vacation.

Tuesday, August 5th my social worker met with me to do some training. Then she announced my probation period had come to an end. It was supposed to be 6mths but, thankfully, has been shortened. The reason for the leniency was the hope that Jake could move to my home.

Thanks to some inquiries made by my friend who works for the same fostering agency, I was ready for the offer. And had my mind made up. “For the same reason it’s not working where he is, it won’t work for us.” His current foster mom is requesting shared care. Between the two of us we could likely manage. But Jake, without school or daycare, is a little much for anyone.

He’s sweet and caring. When he goes non-stop then doesn’t sleep all night, it’s tiring for his caregivers. There’s no way of knowing if he’ll sleep or for how long. Being on call 24hrs a day, 7 days a week isn’t feasible. It’s just not.

Jake snacking on tomatoes while I try to can spaghetti sauce

Jake snacking on tomatoes while I try to can spaghetti sauce

So I said no. The social worker didn’t really understand. She used to work with autistic children in a school setting. Her suggestion is reward charts and using candy as an incentive. That may work for Jake in the future. At the moment he’s not able to understand. So that means endlessly redirecting and trying to anticipate what he might do. And sitting up with him into the wee hours of the night, waiting for him to fall asleep so we can wake in a few hours and start it all again.

I know he needs a home. He deserves to settle down, in a loving environment. But I’m not able to provide that long-term.

There are three things I need to pull off this single parenting gig I’ve gotten myself into: a good night’s sleep, time alone each evening, the opportunity to connect with friends. With Jake, I don’t get any of those things. We will make it through the next 10 days. But I can’t commit with no end in sight.

Sorry. That’s just the way it is. Still, knowing it won’t work doesn’t make the decision any easier.

*name changed

You Say Goodbye…

you-say-goodbye-and-i-say-helloYesterday things looked dire for my 96yr old grandmother. This isn’t the first time she’s been rushed to hospital via ambulance. Given the nature of my life, single adoptive/foster mom living an hour away, I don’t always make it to her bedside. I have once before. By the time I got there she was perfectly fine.

I had my friend’s three foster children this weekend. When my dad text that things were quite serious, I didn’t know what to do. In the end we rushed off to the hospital. The dinner dishes were left. Hastily I put my girls in dresses and grabbed a bag of chips from the cupboard. We drove an hour to the small town hospital.

Into the tiny structure I marched with 5 children. Though nearly 5yrs old I put Athena in a stroller. Having her contained made Raine much calmer. Normally the two race down halls despite my pleas of, “Walking! Walking! You need to be walking!”

“My you have have a group there,” the woman at emergency reception commented.

“Yes,” I said smiling back at her. This is how it goes. Being on my own means carting kids to some unlikely places – like small town emergency rooms at 8pm on a Saturday night. I tried, with out success, to find a sitter. I was ok with that. However there was a panic inside of me about how Raine and Athena would behave.

They were unusually quite as we discovered my grandmother holding on with the help of various machines. My parents were already there.

We watched her struggle to breath with an oxygen mask strapped to her face. My dad settled the older kids, belonging to my friend, in a near by waiting room. It’s hard to know what Grandma was aware of. We talked to her a bit. But what to say?

The nurse came to transport Grandma out of emergency into a room on the third floor. We hung out in the front lobby waiting for that to occur.

Then I traversed with my parents and 5 kids up to the third floor. The smattering of staff and patients flat out stared at us. What do other people do in these situations – single or non? I suppose they leave their children with babysitters. But, had I been able to secure one, I still would have brought Raine. She has a special bond with my grandma. The woman hadn’t smiled in years until Raine came along. The first time they met, Grandma couldn’t stop smiling even in the pictures that were snapped. Generally annoyed with most kids (and adults), my grandma found no fault in Raine. She loved seeing her.

The sight of her great-grandma frail and distant made Raine suddenly quiet. On our drive there, Raine wouldn’t accept this as a time to say goodbye. I didn’t know what to say. Goodbye seemed very appropriate. But suddenly unfortunate. There are so many questions I’d like answered. My grandmother is a mystery to me.

We left around 9pm. I ordered 6 beverages at a Tim Horton’s drive through. The woman working there repeated the number several times to be sure she’d heard correctly. I passed out drinks and chips to the kids. We drove home.

I thought about the funeral to come. Ever efficient, Grandma has prearranged everything. As a child she took me to see the plots she and my grandfather purchased. It’s probably been 10yrs since my grandpa passed away. There are so many things I still want to know about them both.

Perhaps some questions will be answered. Saturday morning, my grandma was sitting up and eating breakfast. Seems the end has not come. The goodbye is yet again another opportunity to say hello.

Father’s Day – Celebrating what We Have

 

Today is father’s day. It’s true – my girls don’t have an earthly father. As Athena is quick to point out, “we have God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. That’s three!!” More than the average kid.

Our life is wonderfully unusual, I know. Intentionally I chose to become a single mom. I’m ok with that. And so are my kids. Since their arrival, I’ve been it – the only parent around. To us it’s just the way it is.

Of course in a perfect world, I would have married when I was young and the foster children who come to me would be greeted by a lovely mom & dad. That didn’t happen. I’m grateful God isn’t hung up on perfection. He’s willing to bend the rules. In doing so He brought me two delightful girls that I get to keep forever.

Today I’m focusing on what my kids have instead of what they don’t.

They have a mom who loves them. Even though I fail repeatedly, I’m not giving up on them or myself. Relationships aren’t easy. Each is an opportunity to grow in grace and compassion. I’m making the most of every opportunity!

My girls have a great community who love them. We’re surrounded by other families and individuals who come alongside us. My daughters have friends they’re growing up with – something that was and is a very special part of my own life.

My own family have embraced Raine & Athena. It’s hard to believe that some extended families don’t welcome adopted children. Sadly, this can be the case – especially when the children come broken and, at times, resistant to love. Thankfully my parents, siblings, and their spouses have all welcomed the addition of my children.

My daughters have a stable home life. They lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10). The Lord has provided a beautiful home and the necessary finances to keep us afloat. He’s opened the doors for me to be home full-time with my kids. This means the world to them and me.

Most importantly, my daughters have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for them. They live in abundance – lacking nothing.

Still-Saturday-Psalm-23

What If…..

life lessons from the movie Frozen

6yr old Raine has been saying, “I’m never getting married!” IMG_20140609_170922

Recently I decided to ask her why – after explaining how wonderful the institution is.

“What if I marry someone who tries to kill me?” she inquired. What if……consumes Raine’s thoughts most of the day. There are so many things she’s curious about.

“You won’t marry someone who tries to kill you,” I assured.

“Anna did on Frozen.”

“Yes, but you won’t.”

A lengthy conversation ensued. By the end, Raine was satisfied that she won’t marry someone who tries to kill her.

“But I’m still not getting married!” she declared.

However, there have been a number of weddings recently involving her stuffed animals.

How Do I Get It All Done?

“I don’t know how you manage on your own,” is a statement I often hear from married friends. Even with a helpful husband around raising kids and taking care of a home is hard work.

So how do I get it all done?

The answer is: I don’t. I really don’t get it all done. My house is an array of half completed projects. The stairwell still needs to be painted. I have new sinks to install in both bathrooms and then I’ll tackle the new floors that are needed. The basement has become a makeshift baby store as I pile up the items being given to me in case I get a baby. (Even if I do, I’m planning to ship a bunch of stuff to my sister – who is expecting – as soon as she and her husband find a new house.) There is clean laundry abounding around the bedrooms. Most days I can manage to get it down to the basement, washed,and brought back up. By that point it’s bedtime and I leave if for another day which comes around eventually.

One of the highlights of my recent childfree trip to California was staying in a tidy, uncluttered apartment. It did me good to remember one day the mess will be over. My kids will grow up. Toys won’t always litter the hallways. Dirty socks won’t appear in the most unlikely places forever. This is just a season I’m in.

Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the season. Despite the state of my house, I do have standards and expectations that I find myself continually falling short of. I’m not a perfectionist but enjoy a sense of decorum and order. Since I started homeschooling that has become impossible. The only time I don’t have a child or children underfoot is when they’re in bed. By that time I’m so depleted I do fun things like blogging or watching British crime dramas.

Most days I feel like I don’t get much of anything done at all. I mange to put three meals of some nutritional value on the table each day. I keep the kids relatively clean – though that’s becoming more difficult with the onset of good weather. My children are drawn to dirt and mud like a magnet. On short notice I can throw together a decent family dinner when my siblings come by to visit. But don’t check the top of the china cabinet. Apparently, it hasn’t been dusted in quite some time.

This week, aside from completing my first official catering job, my greatest accomplishment was mowing the grass. My pictures don’t do it justice. The place was turning into a jungle. Now when I look out my back patio door, there’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s small, but I’ll take it.

in the midst of mowing

in the midst of mowing