I’m gonna break down the last few weeks for you, because precisely zero people asked.
I do what the people want.
First, a short glimpse into our CALI VACAY! If you’re not here for a travel blog, skip about 1/3 of the way down.
Wednesday, 8/21 – Pancakes with my college roommate & her husband who is also my really good friend and their toddler! Hiking in Yosemite! Almost dying multiple times falling off the sides of mountains because Micah thinks we are Bear Grylls! Berrock…s! Or something! (aka: A California Hot Pocket)
Thursday, 8/22 – Breakfast at a cute and deeeelish patisserie, then to Avila Beach for pizza and sand and gulls (and a couple of toes in the water, brrr.) Delayed train from San Luis Obispo meant we got to take a walk around the town, then to LA!
Friday, 8/23 – Griffith Observatory, yummy falafel at Cary’s Lebanese bff’s uncle’s shop, Hollywood stars and handprints and Ramen’s theater or Gramen or whatever it is (you’d think I’d know, having been there), movie games outside Salsa and Beer, then, you know, salsa and beer inside Salsa and Beer.
Saturday, 8/24 – Omelettes, The Getty, Manhattan Beach, unfathomably priced real estate, sushi, wine, the Collected Works of Cary D Daniels, solving the problems of the world until late late.
Sunday 8/25 – Train to San Diego, yummiest migas ever, Balboa Park, love connection with an Italian slackliner (not me, Chad). Then The Pork Tacos Of My Life. They were IT.
Monday 8/26 – San Diego Zoo! My favorite part was probably the fern jungle part, even though I don’t even think it had animals in it, really. Then flying home!
Ok, so then Tuesday you already know about, the re-bonding, the Email of Doom But Not Really Doom.
Thursday, 8/29 – A call from our agency, “there’s this legal risk placement…”
Friday, 8/30 – “You’ve been chosen by CPS, they just need the lawyer’s signature on it.”
Saturday, 8/31 – Lawyer visit, five minutes before Little Man’s first birthday party! (Super fun party, btw.) Then start scrambling to prepare the house for IMPENDING TODDLERS. Are we ready? How do you be ready? Why did we say yes? Of course we said yes! Etc. etc.
Sunday, 9/1 – My niece Ella crawled onto my lap during Communion. Out of nowhere, for some reason, her permanence hit me like a truck, and I hugged her super tight. Ella, whom I knew from an embryo, whom I held in the NICU, who might meet and say goodbye to a few cousins, but who isn’t going anywhere herself. I don’t really know what the emotion was, exactly. I don’t know. One day we will have a permanent, yes. One day.
Monday, 9/2 – Took A Shower. With Shampoo. I’m not sure I can convey how important this felt at the time. I really do have a holy fear of toddlers, I’m not kidding. I honestly was like “Who knows when the next time I will shower will be? What if I never have a shower in peace again??” [I can kind of blow things out of proportion at times, and also forget that I have things like a spouse and also naptime and also 7:30 bedtime.]
Little Man 2 came. He warmed up reasonably fast, with CPS and ECI people there. They left. We stared. We offered snacks. We stared some more. We went to the pediatrician, an excellent first activity ever to do with a toddler.
By dinner, LM#2 was already calling me Mama. I was enjoying how responsive he was to language, almost like a little person. By bedtime, he was so worn out that it wasn’t as big a struggle as it might have been.
Tuesday, 9/3 – First day at home by myself with both kiddos… We played outside while the baby took his morning nap, because I adorably thought that we’d be able to keep the house quiet for such an eventuality each day. Har har. Managed to chip away at the day, a little at a time. Breakfast, outside, snack, play, don’t hit the baby, snack, be gentle with the baby, lunch, share with the baby, nap, and then Dad is home! Whew.
Bedtime Tuesday was rougher. Definitely the feeling of “This is fun and all, but when do I get to go home?” Our little man (#2) was actually in another foster home for a week before coming to us as well, so that’s a lot of change for a little guy. This was not a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed, impetuous. It was these really mature-sounding sobs from a kiddo who is very disoriented and confused, and doesn’t understand why.
Dane and I had a conversation in the dark, as quiet as we could once both kids were (miracle of miracles) asleep, about how really, this is weird. He is a person that we don’t know, and he doesn’t know us. The strangest part was to think: In the next bedroom is a kid who likes us okay, but we do not know all the ways to talk to him, we don’t know his favorite books, we don’t even know his naptime schedule. We don’t know his favorite snacks, we don’t know how to say night night the right way, we don’t even smell right. But he very well may be ours for the rest of our lives. Meanwhile, in the other room, there is a baby for whom we are right. We smell right, we do things right, we say the right things and sing the right songs, but we probably have to send him to another home, with different smells and different food and different hugs…
That’s the name of the game, though, folks. Welcome to fostering. Moving kids is bad. It is never, ever good or easy. No matter what the reason, and even if the situation they are coming from was unsafe for them. It might be necessary, but it is never easy. Moving them back isn’t easy either.
C’est la vie.
Wednesday, 9/4 – I was making myself some eggs. The boys had both already eaten breakfast, Dane was grabbing his keys to walk out the door.
Another foster friend has a story about puking in her cereal the day her first placement came. The day our first placement came, we had like 3 hours to prepare and didn’t even know enough to be nervous. Well, Wednesday I knew how she felt. I stared at my eggs and looked (figuratively) at all the hours there were stretched out ahead of me before bedtime, and all the hours tomorrow and next week and next year, and I put the eggs in a Tupperware and in the fridge. This tiny person, who is sweet and precious and smart and even listens well to instruction, needs activity and snacks and directions and attention all day long. I don’t know what to direct him to. I can’t spend all day saying no, I have to also figure out what to do.
I’m just being honest with y’all. It was dread. Profound dread, and feeling utterly unprepared. A lot of people feel unprepared for two-year-olds even when they watched them slowly grow into two-year-olds and have known them all their lives.
Bonnie called and we went to the park with the twins, ran off some energy. The hours ticked by, somehow managing to be filled with things that weren’t causing grievous bodily injury to anyone and weren’t accompanied by unadulterated screaming, and what do you know? The day was done. I survived. We survived. Laurie and Ross brought us Chipotle, and life was good.
Wednesday, mark it, was also the first day of cooperative hilarity and play time between the two dudes. It took the form of crawling-chase, and both were LOVING IT. Consider my heart melted.
Another sad bedtime… he really does like us and is comforted by us, but still just had this deep, gut-wrenching kind of lost disoriented-ness and all I could say was “I know, baby. It’s hard. I’m sorry,” until he calmed down enough, and said night-night. I don’t know exactly what it was that was freaking him out. Maybe our house sounds different than what he knows, and the dark was scary. Maybe he’s had too many different people putting him to bed, and he’s afraid if they leave it will be someone new tomorrow. Maybe he’s used to a night light, or less light than what comes in through the windows. Who knows?
Thursday, I went to work! He did great at day care, in fact the lady said he “blessed” her because he was such a sweet boy. Then naptime with Grandma Reesee.
Honestly, I thought before that I would want to stay home full-time with more than one kiddo, but now I’m wondering if a change of scenery two mornings per week with other kids and a playground for $14/day isn’t maybe a good idea to continue… but it was nice to put on Clothes that are Cute and Mascara and Talk to Grown-Ups all day.
Thursday night/Friday morning, 9/5-6 – Mama’s got a stomach bug! Friday was rough. I slept little and ate even littler and kept very little of it in… Not my favorite day of all time. A play date at Watermark was a welcome energy-burner. A meeting with the lawyer brought news about the case. It seems that the likelihood of him going back might be higher than we previously anticipated, but you just never know. You never know with any of these things. We learned a while back, thanks to good friends and wise counsel, not to count on anything until the signature is on the page. “Odds” & “likelihoods” mean nothing.
Friday, in addition to the fabulous stomach bug and little sleep, LM#1 also decided to start a new habit of screaming basically constantly at nothing, not really upset, and impossible to get him to quiet down. Maybe just all the changes finally got to him.
At dinner, trying to play peekaboo with LM#2 under the table, I CREAMED my head on the baby’s tray. Proud moment, for sure.
LM#2 had probably the worst bedtime yet, all when I was trying to put him down quickly to go meet my dad’s family after dinner, who I haven’t seen in a long time.
I missed the family time.
Worse things have occurred, you know, like ever in the span of human history. But it wasn’t really a high point, Friday. [A highlight, however, was a delicious pot pie from Sharon that was perfect on a queasy tummy, new books and toys for the boys, new sippy cups, diapers… She brought it all!]
Saturday (today) – DAD IS HOME! Oh, glorious renewed lease on life! There’s another set of hands! There’s another tickle monster! There’s another person to take one of the Dudes to the hardware store and the oil change shop and do manly things! (I had sent him too many pictures of LM#2 trying on my shoes and playing with baby dolls). A pair of shoulders to ride into Costco so Mom doesn’t have to be chasing a toddler while holding a baby, a purse, and a diaper bag!
(Not quite) one week here, and already ups and downs galore. He is precious, I can tell you that. He is difficult, I can tell you that. I think honestly he is probably a LOT easier than a lot of toddlers though; he is actually very well-mannered and has warmed to us marvelously, all things considered.
Also, this, since dinner Monday: “Mama!” “Mama?” “Mama!” “Mama…” “Mama!!” “Mama…” “Mama?” ad infinitum. Which, of course, I love.
-ed. Loved. The first nine hundred and eighty times. Jk, still do. Um. Most of the time.