The ugly picture of reunification.
Eww. I don't like how that sounds.
But it's how I feel. And I'm not going to candy-coat this process. Today I'm going to tell you how I've been feeling. The ugly of it all.
Monday is going to be a really big day. We have court for Dude and Dolly. CPS is going to recommend that they be moved across the state to live with their paternal grandma. On paper there is no reason to not send them. This woman is related to them and family is important. Age-ism isn't allowed so no one is bringing up the fact that this woman is going to be challenged raising a 3yo and a 4yo to adulthood. She's done the few things that the State has asked of her. So...it looks like they will go. The children don't know her or anyone else in this part of the state. And Grandma has done absolutely nothing to start a relationship (or even make contact) with the children since they came in to care. (Yes...there have been two visits in the CPS office. But honestly, they hardly count in my book. But they count in the eyes of the courts so I guess it's been enough.)
I made it until Monday this week before the weight of this transition really got to me.
Did you know that anger is easier to deal with than pain and fear?
I'm having to force myself to not go to those dark places. I'm swinging on a horrible pendulum back and forth across an entire range of emotions. There are times when I don't even want the children in the same room as me. Their little behaviors (you know...the NORMAL behaviors of any 3 and 4 year old) are driving me nuts. I feel this black, black emptiness and it's easier when they aren't in the same room as me.
Then as quickly as I start to get enveloped in that ugliness, Dude will say something to me and I'll scoop him up in my arms. I don't like the ugly and I want it to go away. I fight the urge to push the cherubs away from me because I know I can handle the pain. I really can. So I scoop Dude up and I gaze into his eyes. I study his chubby little cheeks. The dimples. The adorable little nose. The tiny freckle on his right eyelid. I study him as closely as I can because I don't want to forget a single feature about him. I even grab hold of that awful rat-tail on the back of his head and give the hair a twirl. My eyes will start to well up and Dude will tell me that he loves me. He'll say he wants me to be his mommy forever.
"I love you Mommy. You be my mommy. I like you being my mommy."
Dolly is even a bit harder for me to deal with sometimes. I've wanted a little girl to help balance out the testosterone in my home for a long time. In fact, I've kept myself distanced from her more than I have from Dude (not physically...mentally). I wouldn't allow myself to think of what it would be like to have a little girl forever. I didn't want to feel the pain as badly when she left so I haven't allowed myself to daydream as much about her. It's a complex relationship. Dude had been horribly ignored by his first family. He was so little when he came in to care. He latched on to me so quickly and I fell head over heels super fast. Dolly has memories of her first mommy. She kept me at a distance too.
That distance isn't there anymore though. Dolly wraps her chubby arms around me and says, "Myyyyyyy mooommmmmyyyyyy." And I answer back, "Myyyyyyy Doooolllllyyyyyy".
Dolly knows things are going to happen in court soon. She may not understand when Monday really is or what's going to happen. But she knows that workers keep coming to the house and everyone keeps talking about court with me. Even though I'd like to shield them from these conversations, I can't. They hear me talk about it over their heads. And we have lots of conversations at their level.
Every day I tell them that I'm going to love them forever. Every day I try to make sure they know I'm not abandoning them. The decision maker is this figure head they don't understand. But they know the judge is the one doing the deciding.
"It's not up to Mamma. It's not up to you. It's not up to the social workers. It's not even up to the lawyer. Who will decide where you're going to live Dude & Dolly? -- That's right. The judge decides."
He's going to have to be the bad guy. Not me.
Dolly always follows these conversations up with, "I tell the lawyer I wanna stay with Mommy and Poppy."
And it loops through again. I tell Dolly that she needs to tell the social workers and the lawyer. But it's not up to any of us. It's all up to the judge.
I can't control when these conversations happen. They happen all day long. Anything can be a trigger. Any conversation about the future – because none of us know what the future holds. The kids can be talking about wanting to see Granny and Papa and we'll go through the circle of telling them needing to tell lawyer but that it's up to the judge. The kids can talk about wanting to see their grandma in their home town. Or they will say something about next Christmas. Or starting school. Or any number of events that take place further out than a week from now. It sucks to tell these kids that if the judge chooses their paternal grandma they will have to say goodbye to everyone else.
So I ride a roller coaster. Part of the time I'm in control of my emotions. I've got a handle on things and I'm not too worried or hurt. I'm praying for their Grandma in D***. I'm praying that the children will have a peace about the transition. And then someone will say something and I'll get triggered. I'll race into a deep depression. I mean really – this is going to happen the day after Mother's Day. I can barely wrap my brain around the idea of my children leaving me the day after a day to celebrate who I am. I'll call my genius sister and word vomit. I can't spill it to my husband. He's hurting as bad as I am and he would just want to "fix" me and/or the situation. I certainly can't spill it to the children. So I spill it to her. But the weight of it all is so heavy.
Worse yet is when I don't feel depressed but when the anger takes over. That is the ugliest of all. I hate myself when I feel the anger. Anger toward the judge. Anger toward The System in general. And then, even anger toward the children. It's easier to feel anger than it is depression sometimes.
Thankfully I recognize this for what it is. I'm swinging back and forth through the range of all emotional extremes. But I'll be OK. Like I've said before, the hurt I'll feel is far less than what the children went through before coming to my home. And if I do my job correctly, they will transfer to their grandma's just fine. Yes they will cry. Yes it will be difficult for them. And I won't be a part of the relationship to help them through the transition. But I did give them 11 months of family living. I taught them they were loved. I instilled in them a sense of value and self-worth. Hopefully they will draw from these positive experiences and meld into their new family OK.