It is the day that never ends…

Craig had his remaining kidney stone blasted today. It ended up being a much bigger deal than either of us were thinking it would be. Oh, and by the way, he’s pretty hilarious when he comes out of anesthesia, in case anyone wanted to know. And in a moment of rare foresight, I cancelled our Wednesday night City Group last night, thinking that today might end up being one of those goofy days that just will. not. end. And here we are, 9:33pm, still doing school and no bedtime in site for anyone save two tiny boys and one drugged man.

  • 1am – Awakened by 4yo who is crying because his feet are cold. Get up, put socks on him, tuck him back in bed, go back to bed.
  • 1:15am – Reawakened by same 4yo who is crying again because his feet are STILL cold. Get up, put another pair of socks on him, put a sweatshirt on him too, tuck him back in bed, go back to bed.
  • 5:00am – Reawakened by same 4yo who is now crying because he wet his pants. Get up, change him, thank the Lord sincerely he didn’t also wet the bed, tuck him back in bed, go back to bed.
  • 6:45am – Wake officially to the sound of two little boys jumping on the bed and singing Feliz Navidad at the top of their lungs. Go in, find out 3yo actually has wet the bed, but on purpose. Change him, strip the bed.
  • 8:30am – Load up the whole Hee Haw Gang and drive Craig and Chloe to the hospital to drop him off for his kidney stone blasting, then run some errands while everyone else in the van, watching Cars 2, comes along for the ride.
  • 10am – Drop Katie and Millie off at their new art class (same location, different day), go home and entertain/break up fights between two boys for an hour before reloading and heading back to art class to…
  • 11:30am – Pick Katie and Millie up from art class, head home, quick lunch and…
  • 12:00pm – Head back to the hospital to pick up Craig and Chloe. End up being there about an hour while he continues to regain consciousness.
  • 1:00pm – Head back home, drop everyone off.
  • 1:30pm – Dash to Walgreens to drop off Craig’s prescriptions.
  • 1:45pm – Dash back home, load up the boys and Chloe and take them to a doctor appointment (kids entering into emergency foster care are supposed to be seen by a doctor within 3 days of placement – we did the best we could at the 5 day mark here…)
  • 2:00pm – Weather the goofiest doctor’s visit ever (great doctor, no complaints – goofy boys). Plan to pick up Craig’s prescriptions on the way home, but remember I forgot to snag his ID and his ID is necessary to pick up the meds I’m about to pick up, so drop off Chloe and boys, snag the ID, go back to Walgreens, get the meds, then home again.
  • 3:30pm – Back home, boys are BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS CRAZY. Ground outside is too wet, so the parks are out as is our backyard. Think that taking them to McDonalds Play Place might be a good Plan B.
  • 3:45pm – Realize you aren’t the only caregiver of crazy child(ren) who had that idea. Regret said decision, but stay anyway and spring for hot fudge Sundaes.
  • 4:30pm – Leave for home to pick up Maddie for guitar.
  • 4:45pm – Leave home with Maddie and R3, deciding to divide and conquer this time and see how they do flying solo without their partners in crime.
  • 5:00pm – Drop Maddie off, take R3 to Walmart. R3 does not want to be at Walmart, but he doesn’t throw a fit. He’s happy I buy the oranges and Curious George coloring book he requested. Turns out that dividing and conquering isn’t such a bad idea after all.
  • 6:00pm – Pick Maddie back up.
  • 6:10pm – Home again. Discover the scent of the amazing brisket I’ve been slow cooking all day has actually made Craig vomit, so he’s not going to particularly enjoy it tonight and none of the kids really appreciate it either. Boomer and Peaches, on the other hand…
  • 7:30pm – At. Joking. Last. BATH TIME for the boys. Books. Bed.
  • 8:00pm – Boys in bed. Time to see who still needs help with school.

And here I am at 9:30pm – Just finished up the last of school with Katie and trying to steer Katie and Millie towards bed. Maddie and Chloe are still plugging away…I hope. Not sure any quiet alone time is on the docket for me today and that’s just the way some days go. At this rate, I’m just hoping to be able to collapse by 11:00pm. Wish me luck.

Half-Pint-Sized Trouble

The boys and I ended up at the school about 30 minutes before the girls were ready to leave today, so we were just hanging around upstairs in a classroom with Craig. The folding chairs had already been placed upon the tables for the day. We took down one for each of us, boys included, but then told them they needed to leave the other chairs alone.

Ten minutes later, I glance underneath one of the tables and see this.

  • Me: Um, R3, do you need some help?
  • R3: yes
  • Me: Are you hurt?
  • R3: no
  • Me: Did you take down a chair after we told you not to?
  • R3: no
  • Me: R3, look at yourself. Did you try to take a chair off the table when we told you not to?
  • R3: no
  • Me: R3, I’m going to help you get the chair off, I just need you to tell the truth here. Did you try to get a chair off the table when we told you not to?
  • R3: ……………………………..yes.

One of these days he’s going to figure out that I know the answer before I start asking the question. Until then…

 

Back to Boys. 2 This Time.

While waiting for Katie and Millie to finish their art class today, I took J4 and M1.5 to Walmart. J4 got so excited as we walked around, pointing to all the yummy foods she hoped I might pick, all the pretty clothes, all the fun toys. She has a speech issue and she just went off in her own form of gibber-language the entire time we were in the store. I’ve heard her speak like that before, but not for that length of time and it was pretty fascinating. She really wanted this yellow ball and for $2.50, I got it.

After paying for the ball and a few other things, we went back out to the van where I received a phone call informing me the girls would likely be placed into their long-term home really soon. What I didn’t know at that time was that really soon meant in 3.5 hours. It took the better part of those 3.5 hours and a flurry of phone calls back and forth before it was all finalized and I had them packed and ready. And then…another phone call…two boys, brothers…Friday afternoon and that means…us or the shelter for the weekend and could we? would we?

I know. I know. There has to be a time coming in which I’m forced to say no. But today just didn’t seem to be that day. I had no good reason for saying no other than I’m just tired, but I’m 39 and I’m always tired, so what’s new?

And in a whirlwind of kids and case workers, 2:30 hit and the girls left just as the boys were coming in, literally at the exact same moment. And these boys…so sweet, so ornery, so much brothers, they came in, they made themselves at home. They may not be here long, we never know. Our track record so far is 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 30 days, 2 days, and now these boys. Could be Monday or it could be the full 30 days, but regardless, every day they are here is a day they aren’t in the shelter, or an unsafe situation.

And so, just like that, we’re back to boys again. We’re getting this boy thing down now. And they also love the yellow ball.

Emergency Girls

How to begin this? Honestly, I wanted a few days off between handing over Baby M and getting a new placement. I’m not sure if I thought I *needed* the time, or just selfishly *wanted* it. One thing’s for sure, I wasn’t done grieving the loss of my sweet little baby boy.

I’m still not.

In fact, you might think this weird, but I slept with one of Baby M’s blankets right next to my face last night. Yep. True story. And I pretty much cried myself to sleep.

And if there is ever a time that Lamentations 3:22-23 self-fulfilled, it was today: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Mercies are new every morning. Every morning. It doesn’t mean that despair doesn’t eventually return. It often does and sometimes it does right away, but mercies are available and fresh every single morning. I awoke to that this morning and was grateful.

And before I even rolled out of bed I glanced at my phone, which I don’t normally keep next to the bed, but have grown accustomed to over the past month to check feeding times and such, I saw a message from our foster agency worker. She needed me to call her asap. I cleared my throat to try to sound a little less like I, you know, just woke up, and called her back.

In a nutshell, there was an emergency need for two little girls (sisters) to be transferred to a new short-term home as their foster father was in a serious car accident this morning. They were sorry to ask us since we’d just given up Baby M the afternoon before and knew we were still processing through that. I woke up quickly and was all, “Of course. Bring them. When will you be here?”

And that was that. We are now keeping up with J4 and M1.5. Sweet, sweet, SWEET little girls. With a sad story, like everyone else who spends time with us for a short season. Craig is absolutely smitten and wants to adopt them on the spot. If only it were that easy and if it were, would we survive, because we would adopt almost everyone who comes here. Crazy.

We don’t know how long these sweeties will be with us, but I’m thinking it will be shorter than the other kids we’ve had, as they’ve been in emergency care with the other family for a while now. But for however long they are with us, we will do our best to love and care for them.

It’s true. I wanted my cushy safe life back for a few days. I wanted to wallow in sadness over the baby. But what I wanted wasn’t exactly what God wanted. And I hope I will continue to want what He wants above what I want. I hope.

There were pockets during the day in which I was alone for a moment and something would remind me of yesterday. I folded a bunch of laundry and came across several of the 0-3 sleepers he looked so cute in and I fought back some tears. I saw a baby at Walmart tonight and teared up on the spot.

But then I had to snap back into the present and our present is that we have two extra little girls right now who really need us to be present with them. We’ll do what we can.

Today we said good-bye.

Today I bought a new purse.

I bought it from Walmart.

It cost $18.

I shopped with Baby M today.

The purse stayed in the plastic bag until much later.

I carried my scruffy scrappy purse with me to drop Baby M. off today for his long-term placement.

My friend offered to drive us to the appointment.

I usually don’t accept support like this, but today I did.

And I’m glad.

Because I cried.

I cried very hard.

Then she drove me home.

I cried some more.

Then I went to the school to pick up the girls for choir practice.

I cried some more.

I took them to choir practice.

Then I met Craig for dinner.

This was the first time in over a month that we’d had dinner together without any kids, ours or otherwise.

And we talked about Baby M.

And I cried very hard some more.

And later tonight I dumped the contents of my old purse into my new purse.

I still need to organize it, but for now I’ll just keep it that way.

And like I do with everything else, I casualized the purse pronto by clipping my scratched up carabiner to it.

And I gathered up all the random baby bottles with less than an ounce of formula still in them and placed them on the counter to be washed out.

And stored.

And saved for the time another baby joins our family for a short season.

For now, though, we mourn he who was ours for a little while and pray he is comforted and safe tonight.

Tomorrow we say good-bye.

Numbers 6: 24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Feels like we’ve been here before with this little guy. And so we have. Only this time, it’s for real. And so I reiterate my words from before: Baby M, we love you. And even harder than not getting to continue to raise you up through your childhood and beyond is the not knowing anything about what will become of you after tomorrow. I think that’s what hurts the most.

We give you over to the hands of God. May He watch over you and guide you all the days of your life.

Heavy Hearted Parenting

While most of the country grieves over the loss of a Downton Abbey fav in last night’s season finale (which I’ve yet to see, but know what happened), I sit here today grieving over the loss that is to come for our family tomorrow. We’ve been here before, in deep sadness the day before we thought Baby M would be moving on the next day, but I’m certain that tomorrow it is actually going to happen and I’m just pretty devastated.

I do not know how to parent without getting completely emotionally involved. I’m not sure parenting any other way is really parenting. I’ve heard other foster parents talk about their families like this, “We have four home grown, two hand picked, and three on loan for now,” and it’s cute, for sure, but I’m not yet able to voice it like that. I don’t know how to keep a newborn baby alive for a whole month and then give him back as though the last month never happened. It did happen and we will have the formula-stained blankets and residual baby laundry and empty bottles left behind to prove it, for weeks after he’s gone.

Here’s the deal: I know he’s not ours and that he’s never been ours and that all along this was the plan. But when it comes time for the plan to be played, reason is too big a risk. While listening to the Wicked Soundtrack in the car today, I heard Elphaba sing in Defying Gravity,

Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!

And, yes, even the fictional wicked witch can reduce me to tears when the timing is right, which it was earlier today.

This love – it is love – it comes at much too high a cost. And I have very little left in which to pay.

And once again I’m left with my own personal cliché, that I repeat over and over to myself, to my girls, and to every friend and stranger who looks me in the eyes and says this is something they could never do (as though my heart is made of stone and it’s easy for me): If it didn’t hurt so much, we didn’t do it right. But even that knowledge brings little comfort to me tonight.

Because it hurts, dammit. It just does. And the truth is, I don’t know how much more I can do this either.

Maybe that’s the point? That we really can’t do it on our own? That we must lean so heavily on God to parent through us, to love through us, to give back the babies through us? If only I could lean that heavily on God tonight. Maybe I am, but I don’t know it because I’m just sad. So very sad.

Sweet Silver Bird

I really like the bird. I bought it for Chloe who also really likes it. But then one day she was trying to save it from complete destruction by a certain 5yo who was living in her room for a couple of weeks and she brought it downstairs. Now we all enjoy it. Here’s hoping she forgets her room is her own again (for now) and decides to take it back…