We had a blast at Six Flags! I'm so incredibly glad that we went!
It's hard to describe...think awful of me if you must...but I didn't miss the bonus cherubs at all. Herman brought his best friend from across the street and the six of us had a ton of fun. I didn't have to wipe any butts or noses all weekend long. (um...unless you count the time I had to wipe off half a container of chocolate ice cream off of Bart's face) I didn't have to keep track of little people. I didn't have to second guess any of my parenting decisions. I was on my own with no one to answer to but my family. (I tire of social workers and all the ridiculous rules that make up foster parenting.)
This is my blog and more than anything I'm going to keep things real. So there it is in all its truth -- I went away for the weekend without three of "my" kids and I didn't miss them at all.
This foster parenting stuff is HARD!! I have to love these children just like they are a permanent part of my family. To do anything less when they are around would be wrong in my opinion. I love Dude, Dolly and Pumpkin so very, very much.
But I am forced to share these children. In order for me to keep my sanity, I have to be able to let go as fast as I grab on. I had to be completely OK with putting Dude and Dolly in Minnie's car on Friday afternoon knowing that they would be surrounded by a completely different family all weekend long. I cannot let my identity be wrapped up completely in them. Yes, I'm their mom when they are with me. And I love them with all I've got. But like it or not, they have a biological family that is trying to connect now.
Side note: I still do not believe that this biological family would be doing ANY of this connecting if the State wasn't orchestrating and paying for all of it. None of the members of the biological family (except their maternal great-grandma) have ever tried to have contact with the kids all on their own.
Side note or not though, the kids were whisked away this weekend and I had to let go. So...let go I did.
And we had fun!!
The first thing I did after we got back this weekend was pick Pumpkin up from respite care. That was an adventure. Nothing is more complicated than a severely retarded, basically non-verbal child that has also suffered complex trauma. Pumpkin didn't understand why I left her this weekend. And, partially because this was a brand new family, Pumpkin didn't handle things well. I spent 45 minutes trying to prepare this family for all that Pumpkin is Friday night. But I had no idea Pumpkin would up the ante. She refused to get dressed. She refused to get her diaper changed. She refused a bath. She refused to let the foster mom brush her teeth. She wouldn't let anyone brush her hair. She was a total terror! I think they were glad to see us leave tonight as I pulled out of the driveway.
I got down in Pumpkin's face though and told her to "knock it off". (She was crying as I took her out to the car.) I know that sounds really harsh; but Pumpkin does NOT respond to sing-song-y correction. She lightened up almost immediately. By the time we go home Pumpkin cooperated with all that needed to be done with the bedtime routine. She was still visibly upset. But my hands are completely tied. It's not like I can explain things to her. She doesn't understand. And she doesn't respond to lovey-dovey comforting. Generally, she doesn't want to be held or hugged.
In a way, I'm glad this happened this weekend. It's looking very much like Pumpkin will be transferred to her aunt and uncle's this coming weekend. I will know for sure to better prepare them for Pumpkin's level of stubbornness. Because once again, I won't be able to explain to Pumpkin what is happening, where she is going and that this time, I won't be coming back. Her aunt and uncle need to know from the beginning that they can't coddle her or she will dig in and not cooperate with anything.
Dude and Dolly got home past their bedtime. The flight home had been complicated with multiple gate changes and lots of stress. They were completely wiped out! Dude looked happy to be home. Dolly looked shell shocked.
Because it was late enough there was little I could do but get them ready for bed. There really wasn't time to try and process anything that happened this weekend. I could tell just by looking that Dolly would become overwhelmed with emotion and that wouldn't be healthy. I made the decision to act like everything was normal and just shuffle them off to bed.
I smiled a lot. I asked them if they had fun. But I pretty much just helped them into their jammies and got them in bed. There were lots of hugs and kisses. We sang. We prayed. But I didn't draw things out with extra songs or cuddles.
After tucking in TT and Bart I went back into Dude and Dolly's room for one more round of hugs and kisses. Dolly seemed much more relaxed. She actually smiled and told me she loved me. I know it's all OK. I felt a little bad being so hurried tonight. But it wasn't my fault they didn't get home until after 8:00PM and that I've got to get them off to school in the morning. I did the best I could with what I've got.
Minnie had almost nothing to say about the actual weekend visit other than it went well.
I'm anxious to see how Dude and Dolly process this out this coming week. I'm sure they'll tell me bits and pieces about the visit. I'm not going to push but I will take notes. If necessary, I'll schedule a meeting with their lawyer too.
Tomorrow starts a new week. Wanna take bets to see if bio mom confirms her court ordered visit tomorrow? She has to call in to CPS or else the visit on Tuesday is automatically cancelled. And for what it's worth, Minnie told me that Mom has already missed her first appointment since court last Monday.
It's going to be a crazy week. But what week isn't crazy when you choose to live in Foster Care Land?!