Today is my anniversary. Mr. Amazing and I have been married for nineteen years. Neither of us had marvelous days today. He spent the day in horrific meetings. I got my infusion for my arthritis this morning. I dealt with a huge visit from Mr. Wonky today. (TT's anxiety peaks like CRAZY around his birthday. And it's always worse, waaaaaaayyyy worse, when my family is coming for a visit. The double dose of stress knocks TT way off kilter.) Homeschool was no picnic today. And my kitchen was something of a disaster. So when Mr. Amazing and I spoke on the phone at 4:00 this afternoon I informed Mr. Amazing that he was "making" dinner. After he got home and got out of his uniform we packaged up the family and headed out to eat.
We were eating later than normal. I informed Mr. Amazing that I didn't care where we ate at as long as the restaurant did not require me to fill up my own glass of Diet Coke. Because I had two coupons, we settled on Olive Garden. Dinner took longer than normal and we didn't get home until after 7:00PM. I sent Dude and Dolly upstairs with strict instructions to get ready for bed. This is a skill they have and usually do without any problems.
Dolly got her PJs on quickly. Dude however...did not.
Because there is so little I can do as a foster parent in situations like this I didn't do anything other than be more stern than normal. I raised my voice and gave him my "pissed off mamma" face.
Dude was tired. I might have been a little more stern than necessary. He started crying and very slowly picked up his jammies. I scooped him up and put his PJs on for him. He cried through it all.
I read stories. Things seemed better. I let my frustration go quickly. At least I felt like I did. I only read one story. But it was late enough and both kids were tired. I informed them that they get stories at school and I don't have to read two every single night.
Dude climbed on my lap with Dolly while I sang to them. Every night I sing Jesus Loves Me. I also sign a variety of other songs that vary each night. We cuddle. I hug them. I kiss them. And then I pray over them. Each child lays down in bed and I tuck them in while singing the final lullaby – a custom song with their names in it.
Then, the last thing we talk about is whether or not they have school in the morning. Dolly was so excited this past Friday night. She looked at Mr. Amazing and told him, "I love bedtime Daddy 'cause I get to wake up and watch cartoons!" Tonight's conversation was letting them know they get to sleep in because we have a visit with their mom tomorrow. (I have to keep them home from school for their weekly visits. Their visits are in the afternoon now because that's the only time that would work for me and Bio Mom.)
Then Dude asked if Granny and Papa were coming.
I reminded Dude and Dolly that Granny and Papa are coming but they won't be here until Friday. Then I reminded them that they won't see Granny and Papa until they get back from Dallas.
This conversation led quickly to Dude telling me he doesn't want to go to Dallas. Again (for about the 173,654 time in the past sixty days) I told Dude that it isn't up to me. It's up to the judge. And the judge said that the cherubs are to go to Dallas for a visit once a month.
I don't know what happened. Maybe Dude decided he was still mad about the PJ thing. Maybe he really did change his mind. Maybe he's mad that he's going to miss time with Granny and Papa. But he screwed up his little face and sternly announced to me that he wants to stay in Dallas forever.
I'm worn out. I'm tired of this conversation. I'm not sure how therapeutic my answer was but I'm running out of good ways to handle the whole thing. I don't know what to say anymore when they tell me they don't want to go to Dallas other than, "tell your lawyer". When they're upset and announce that they want to move to Dallas forever about all I've got left in me is, "I know baby. It's up to the judge."
Tonight it sounded more like this.
"That's fine Dude. You can go to Dallas. It's not up to you or me it's up to the judge. He's going to decide the next time we have court. But you're not going to hurt me by saying that Dude. You're not hurting my feelings. I'm a foster mom. My job is to take care of you because your mommy couldn't. It's up to me to love on you as long as you're in my home. But eventually Dude you're probably going to go to Dallas forever and you will never see me again. I will miss you Dude. I love you. But I will be OK."
It very much felt to me like Dude made his announcement so he could hurt my feelings. It's no different than one of my forever kids telling me that they hate me. Dude dug at me with what he's got.
It's so draining though. These conversations are getting more and more difficult. These cherubs are confused. They barely understand foster care. They've had more stability with me in the past 16 months than they had probably ever had before. (And that really sucks because their time with me was interrupted with the investigation from Hell! And everything else about foster care is peppered with, "I don't know baby. It's up to the judge.") They're used to instability. They're drawn to stability. I do believe that more often than not they want to stay with us forever.
Yet, I can't promise them a damn thing. All I can do is remind them that it's not up to me. It's not up to them. It's not up to the social workers. It's not even up to the lawyers. It's that all important judge that will determine where they live forever. Then, because it's the truth and I always tell the truth, I let them know...if they tell their lawyer they want to stay with me, the lawyer will have to think about it and talk it over with everybody. If they tell their lawyer they want to go to Dallas, that's probably what will happen.
It's soooooooo unfair putting that kind of pressure on children that barely understand what foster care is. I so hate how The System works down here. But it is what it is.
No good ending here. Just figured I'd share my story from tonight. Foster care sucks.