Are You Trying to be Nobody?

The question caught me off guard.

Raine repeated herself, “Are you trying to be nobody?”

That Saturday morning I was trying to be exceptionally cheerful. We were supposed to go out for breakfast with their birth grandmother and cousin. But she’d had to cancel. Friends we were supposed to visit a farm with that afternoon had also canceled. I was still planning to take the kids out for breakfast and to the farm, but Athena woke feeling unwell. So we were staying home. Our day went from being filled with excitement to very drab. I was making pancakes and trying to convince Raine it was all ok.

“These cups!” she shouted when I failed to understand her. “Nobody drinks juice out of teacups. You’re trying to be nobody!”

The force in her voice gave the impression she didn’t much appreciate my attempt to be nobody.

“I like being nobody. I like to do things that nobody else does. Sometimes it’s best to be nobody,” I answered.

Thanks to a disgruntled 14 year old who trashed my house and kicked several

what we're drinking out of these days

what we’re drinking out of these days

holes in the wall, I’ve been reorganizing and redecorating. Sometime ago a friend was overwhelmed by all my dishes. I have two complete formal sets and one partial along with three everyday sets. She suggested scaling back but at that point I wasn’t ready. Her encouraging words returned to me recently. So I let go of my everyday dishes and replaced them with a partial set of formal china. The array of glass cups gave way to assorted tea cups. That’s what I was serving juice in on a very disappointing Saturday morning.

“These are beautiful!” Raine exclaimed, carefully handling the delicate cup. She was happy with the change though had sounded otherwise with her repeated question, “Are you trying to be nobody?”

The quest for individuality has always been a driving force in my life. It’s part of how God made me. Everything in me wants to go against the flow. The way I dress and decorate, the way our home is run, the choices I make tend to be counter-culture. I am praying other single, godly women step into adoption. In this area I don’t always want to be the only one. But for now, in my real-life world, I am. That’s ok. I don’t mind being a nobody.

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.