writing this post as quickly as possible without editing. sorry to the mistake. (that one is for my sister.)
It’s funny that I took a moment to reflect here on Tuesday. Thank goodness, because we received our call that we were certified (or is it certifiable? that remains to be seen) at 4pm Tuesday. At 4:30 the placement worker called and told us we’d know by 5:30 if we needed to pick up two boys at 7pm that very night. Whoa. That was fast. So we brought home two boys on Tuesday night and are on day two here. Everything is chaos and I stink because I’m pretty sure I forgot deodorant this morning. I definitely didn’t brush my hair or change out of my pajama sweatpants. Who has time for all that? Luckily, a neighbor brought a sack lunch over at 1pm in case I hadn’t eaten yet. I couldn’t remember. But then I realized that I hadn’t, and in fact, I hadn’t really given the kids an official lunch yet either. It’s pretty hazy.
I’ve told several people over the past few months that I really hoped I wouldn’t get a newborn and a two year old or something CRAZY like that! Little did I know. So there’s no newborn. Instead we have a ten-month old the size of a two year old. He is one strong boy. He’s a hair puller (I had one of those and one who wasn’t) and a scratcher (I’ve got to cut those nails!) and a head butter. Remember when your kids were at just the right age and you had them on your lap and they whipped their heads back and gave you a fat lip? It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting. Because he’s one powerful head butter and likes to practice the sport constantly. That, and crying when I put him down on the floor. So I am counting on getting my exercise in just by carrying all 26 pounds of him around all day. He has a cold so it’s hard to tell his true demeanor. I’m hoping his need to be carried dies off in the coming days as he gets better and gets used to our house. Since I can’t use real names or photos here, I’ll refer to him as Baby Billy Goat from now on, as an ode to his head butting. Then there’s the two and a half year old. (Do you think God was laughing whenever I’d tell someone about the horrid infant/2 year old combo I didn’t want to get? He has a great sense of humor, doesn’t he?) The two year old who weighs the same as both my four year old and my six year old. I’ll call him Athlete, because of the way he jumps and dives when balls are being thrown around in the house. And the fact that he’s almost as strong as me. But not quite. The ‘not quite’ is key for disciplining. Thank you God, for the ‘not quite.’
They came home at 8pm Tuesday, played for a moment then we put them to bed. So Wednesday was day one, and it was horrible. Actually the kids weren’t horrible but all emotions are heightened when you’re working on one hour of sleep. So it seemed horrible. And if you ask my mom, who was here for the afternoon/evening/bedtime, I think she’d agree. No need to belabor the details, but suffice it to say that my calm post from Tuesday morning was far from my mind. I wondered how we would manage. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. I wondered how I would coordinate all the napping and eating and diapering and parental visitations and everything else. (Still wondering.) And Baby Billy Goat slept in fitful 40 minute chunks all night the first night so I was wiped out. Crying happens easily on the first day of a foster placement, and the majority of the crying was done by yours truly. Little Athlete is already trying my perseverance with his time out testing. One of the two social workers I met with on Wednesday mentioned the ‘Honeymoon Period’ that kids go through when they’re first placed, which is when the title of this post came to my mind. Another social worker insisted I take Baby Billy Goat to get his ears checked, so I spent the next hour while my mom took the kids to the park trying to find a place that takes Medical. And failing. And crying just thinking about the night ahead. But remember, that was day one.
Day two (today) has been much better. We all slept last night, with the exception of one hour. Maybe tonight we’ll sleep all the way through. But at least I’m lucid today. And the kids are actually pretty good. I had come to expect the worst as we went to training after training. Two year old Acrobat is two years old, which explains itself. But do two year olds really need to come in size 39 pounds? Because it’s one thing to pick up a Jake or Tyler at age two when they’re throwing a fit or fighting you about going into time out, but it’s quite another to wrangle this big boy. Oof. I have learned that it’s best to take off his big clunky shoes before having a time-out standoff, which entails carrying him back to time out ten thousand times before he stays while I count to twenty. Yes, he stays in the end. And it seems to be effective with his behavior…praise God for that one. And most importantly to Greg and I, Jake and Tyler seem to be adjusting okay so far. I expect some acting out in the coming weeks. We’re being careful to carve out time to be with just them and nurture our family connection. But thankfully they do enjoy the foster kiddos’ company so far. They get a kick out of making Baby Billy Goat laugh.
I better wrap this up, as naps will end soon, I’m sure. Thankfully, when I mentioned having a hard time keeping Athlete in his room for naps, my good friend Angie reminded me that there’s such a thing as T.V. and maybe I should try using a show as a “rest time”. Smart lady. Athlete fell asleep on the couch and my boys got a nice t.v. treat. I know I should have used this 40 minutes to clean up the disaster that is our kitchen or put away the clothes that our friend Tria lent us for Athlete or mop the floor in the nook (how did I forget how sticky everything gets with a baby in the house?) or something really useful. But what’s useful to me is to check on the care calendar I set up for us to get help from local friends, and to vent here and remember this moment as it happens.
I want to remember God’s provision of a friend when I needed her as I walked across the school parking lot and had to deal with Athlete throwing himself to the ground and refusing to get up. My first thought as Angela walked by with her kids was that I was lucky, but I remembered quickly that luck had nothing to do with it. God knew I needed her at that moment, and I needed the little girl who found my cell phone when I handed Baby Billy Goat off to Angela as I carried Athlete across the parking lot and the phone fell out of my baby carrier as it flapped below me. God knew I needed the neighbor who brought me that sandwich today and who’s bringing us dinner tonight. God knew last night that I needed some sleep. It’s easy to throw my hands up and say “What were we thinking!” and give up on all of this. We have such a nice peaceful life with us four. But God knows what we need and will not give us more than we can bear. Thank God.