I can’t believe I did this by myself and ENJOYED IT!
I had my class reunion in my home town last week. Hubby and I were all set to enjoy our first road trip with our littles. Mom hadn’t met them yet, and she was so excited! Then…Hubby got sick. Really sick. When my husband catches something, his body’s first response is to shoot it’s temperature up. It stayed up for 5 days, and when he eventually went into the doctor, he had a double ear-infection. Anywho, all that being said, my sweet husband, who never gets time off of work to actually enjoy himself, spent 2 weeks SICK, so going on our trip would now have to be a solo gig.
My home town is approximately 12 hours from where we live in the U.P. I was intimidated, to say the least, about driving all that distance myself with two very young toddlers. Bitty is still not eating solid foods significantly yet, and that meant that we would have to stop often. Plus, she doesn’t self-soothe much, so her ability to stay calm and entertained was also a concern. Busy Boy did great on our recent 5 hour trip down-state for a wedding, so I wasn’t as concerned about him as long as he had plenty of toys to play with.
So here’s how I prepared for my journey.
I bought a good, double umbrella stroller that would easily fit in my trunk, even with all the gear. This turned out to be absolutely essential during potty breaks. I also bought a back pack to replace my traditional diaper bag. Another inspired idea that saved me a lot of frustration.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do all 12 hours in one shot, so I booked a hotel at about the half-way point with a kiddie pool area so the kids could burn off some energy after sitting all day in the car. Hubby had hotel points, so we were able to get 2 free nights. Awesome. (Note to self: Check reviews better! Pretty pictures do not mean a clean hotel!)
Listening to music puts me to sleep on long trips, so I made sure I had plenty of radio theatre albums to listen to. My favorites come from Focus on the Family. They have some great titles for all ages. I am still addicted to Adventures in Odyssey, but I also listened to the entire Chronicles of Narnia saga over the length of the trip.
I checked the weather report and it was going to be HOT! So I packed lots of light clothes for the kiddos, which was kind of difficult since we are already starting to prepare for cooler weather here and I had started switching things over.
When I was packing up miscellaneous stuff, I made sure that I had a bag that I could keep up in the front seat with me so I could have things handy, like extra wipes, baby tylenol, extra formula etc….
Kohl’s has this great program where they feature different children’s authors every month and sell books and their coordinating stuffed animals for $5 a piece. In August, they had the Skippyjon Jones series, and one of the products was a really cute, toddler-sized back pack. Busy Boy LOVES this back pack. It was perfect for me to put his travel toys in, and it was something he could do to help, which is huge for him. Any time it was time to go “bye-bye’s” he would put his back pack on and I would help him load it up. The tricky part was making sure he didn’t sneak things in there that were not ours.
We took off after lunch so that the babes would fall asleep during their regular nap time. It worked. I was able to drive for almost three straight hours without a peep from the littles, and by the time they woke up, I was ready for a stretch too, but I felt accomplished that I had gotten so many miles under my tires.
I looked for Shell stations to stop at, because they typically have big, clean bathrooms. I loaded the kids into the double stroller and was able to pee in peace, change the babes, and head back out. My double stroller was even able to be folded and put in the trunk one-handed when necessary. Score!
I tried to find rest areas with safe places to walk/run around. This gave me a chance to feed the baby outside the car, and Busy Boy a chance to run around. The trouble was getting him back into the car. Yeah…Busy Boy and transitions are not such good friends.
On the way back, we stopped in Austin, MN to visit one of our favorite places, the SPAM Museum! If you are ever out that way, it’s a great place to stop with the family, or by yourself, to stretch your legs and get some good chuckles. It’s really quite an impressive place. There’s lots of interactive displays, as well as a gift shop where you can buy more flavors of SPAM than you ever knew existed. This was my third or fourth visit, so when the nice lady offered me a map, I told her I knew where I was going. Plus, it’s air-conditioned, which was a huge plus on that 100 degree day.
I hope my experiences were of some interest and/or help to you. I will post more about my actual trip next.
Note: I started this post June 25, and was interrupted by a call from our worker asking us to take an emergency placement of two girls, thus the interruption of time. Also, things are even more intense and chaotic right now, but we are getting it figured out.
I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to introduce you to Busy Boy as well as let you in to the complexity that is life in the Stubborn house right now, and I think what might be effective is to give you a daily breakdown.
7:00 AM – Bitty Babe wakes up. Depending on the kind of day it is, she is either cooing and playing in her crib, or screaming bloody murder. There is no in between. Also, depending on what kind of night it was, I am either well rested and ready to start the day, or am dragging my legs over the edge of the bed trying to explain to my screaming baby why it is taking me so long.
“Hold on, Honey!”
“I’m almost there, Baby Girl!”
“My eyes are having a little trouble opening, Darling. Be patient!”
God graciously made me a morning person, so as soon as my feet hit the floor and I start moving, I wake up very quickly and am ready to get things started. I pick up my precious baby girl and greet her with ‘good morning’s’ and lots and lots of kisses. I bring her to the changing area on our living room floor and soak up the love as she coos and smiles at me as I change her butt. I then sit her down (‘cuz she can sit now!) with a couple of toys while I take care of some….ahem…personal business. Then it’s time to get her morning bottle made as well as dose up her morning med. Update: When I originally wrote this, Bitty was not crawling yet. This has since changed in a big way. There is no more sitting her on the floor while she contentedly plays with a toy, because she has figured out very quickly how to climb our sunken living room’s stairs to follow me where ever I go, so now she goes into the bathroom with me and plays with a roll of toilet paper. :)
Feeding Bitty is one of my favorite things. I love how she gazes up at my face and strokes my hair. She still needs to be swaddled to eat effectively most of the time, but she usually works her right arm out, and it goes straight to my hair and face. She has this thing about scratching too, so I really have to stay on top of her nails.
8:00 AM – Busy Boy wakes up. I usually know this because he either knocks on his door, which he can’t open yet, or he cries, which stops as soon as I open the door. He greets me with a smiley “Hi!” and gives me a hug around the legs. I melt. He carries his sippy cup of water and his blanket out with him, but he usually drops them somewhere between his bedroom and the living room. I always give him kisses as soon as I see him, and I ask him how he rested, which he usually replies to in his own lovely little language.
Busy Boy, at 29 months of age, has the language skills of an 15-18 month-old, but he makes up for his lack of words with his expressiveness in his own language. He wants to make himself known so much, and we are determined to give him the tools to do that, so the day he moved in I began using sign language with him. He picked it up so quickly those first couple of days that I was convinced that his guardians had been using sign with him, which I found out was not the case. He already knows more than 20 signs, learns new ones instantly, and signs 3 word sentences. He even makes up his own signs to make himself understood. For example, at lunch one day he pointed to the grilled cheese sandwich I had on the stove and he signed “hot cheese.” What I love about the use of sign language with speech-delayed kids is that it gives them a chance to build vocabulary and confidence as they learn to speak. More on that another time.
After Busy Boy gets up, I get his butt changed and then wait to see what kind of morning it will be. Sometimes Busy Boy is ready to go right away and immediately wants to go to his high chair and eat breakfast. Other mornings he needs some time to play before he realizes he is hungry.
8:15 AM – Breakfast. I have been enjoying breakfast time so much! This used to be a hard time of the morning for me before Busy Boy came. Most mornings I would spend the first hour sitting on the couch with the babe watching TLC’s morning lineup. Because of Bitty Babe’s high needs, it was just easier to not have any morning expectations. Now that Busy Boy is here, I don’t have a choice. I have to feed the child! I definitely think it helps that Bitty is old enough now that she is interested in playing with things, so she is not needing my constant attention and entertainment. Even though she’s not eating solid food yet, I’ve been putting her in her high chair with some of her favorite toys, or a graham cracker to gnaw on, so she can join us in the breakfast fun.
I know I haven’t been writing much about it recently, but I love to cook, and I’ve always thought that cold cereal was more of a snack food than a breakfast food, which leads me to the conclusion that I should make hot breakfast as often as possible. This is actually a very practical thing with two little ones because they eat in the kitchen, and I want to be with them, so cooking for them makes my time well spent. Lately I’ve been making Busy Boy blueberry pancakes and a simple cheese omelette. They are quick, nutritious dishes, and Busy Boy gobbles them up. While I’m making the hot items, I give him him his choice of fruit, which he uses his new found sign language skills to communicate. Busy Boy is a big eater, which is wonderful, because he will try just about anything, but he is also a slow eater, which means that breakfast takes up a good 45 minutes of our morning.
9:00 AM – New butt and play time. This is when I am really glad that Bitty is getting so independent and will play on her own, because this allows me time to get some morning chores done. During this time, Busy Boy is exploring. He is such a thinker. He loves finding out how objects might work together, especially in combinations I would never have thought of, like plastic stacking rings strung onto a wagon handle.
10:00 AM – Snack time for Busy Boy, nap time for Bitty. Yes, you read that right, Bitty is actually going down for regular morning naps! This started about a month ago, and I am loving it! Depending on how she’s feeling, she will sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours. It’s wonderful! Snack time is another time of the day that I am so thankful for my ASL background, because Busy Boy is able to let me know when he is hungry and exactly what he wants. It’s incredible. I seriously almost cried the day when instead of whining and grunting for his hat that he saw in his diaper bag, he signed “hat please.” Amazing.
10:30 AM – More play time. Since Bitty is usually asleep at this time, I try to take this time to spend some good one-on-one time with Busy Boy and work on more specific skills. It’s pretty obvious that Busy Boy was never really read to, as he has no idea what to do with a book, and cannot identify objects in pictures…like any. So this is something I am really trying to work with him on. It’s hard sometimes, because he is so active he doesn’t really want to sit still with me. Now, don’t get me wrong, he is a very cuddly kid, and loves to be rocked and snuggled, but right now reading seems like a waste of good play time to him. So I am trying to read AROUND him a lot, and catch him during his few quiet times. I’ve been collecting children’s books for years, so I am super excited to share these wonderful books with my kiddos. We’ll get there. Update: Since I wrote this, Busy Boy is now choosing to get books off the bookshelf and look at them independently! He has been pointing to pictures and telling me about them, such as pointing to a picture of Elmo taking a bath and signing and saying “bath time,” or “night nights” for Ernie in bed.
11:30 AM – Lunch. More good food. Enough said.
12:15 PM – Busy Boy goes down for his nap. The first few days were rough simply because we had no idea what kind of schedule he was on. Now that we know, and we know how routine oriented he is, nap time is a breeze. After I get him cleaned up from lunch, I change his butt and tell him it’s time for night nights. He grabs his bunny blanket and his sippy cup (with water) and heads to his room. He’s usually fussing as he walks, but it’s so fake it’s hilarious. He puts himself into bed, I give him a kiss, say good night, go out, and shut the door. DONE!
Time for Mama ( Äiti) to get busy! This is when I try to get caught up on dishes and laundry. If Bitty is awake, I work in our bedroom putting clothes away, which is my LEAST favorite chore. If Bitty is asleep, I work somewhere else in the house, maybe even getting some deeper sorting and organizing done. If Bitty is really sleeping, I might even lie down for a while, although she has this Äiti radar and has an annoying habit of waking up within minutes of me lying down.
3:00 PM – Busy Boy is up and ready for a new butt and a snack. He always wakes up in good spirits, so I am excited to see him when he wakes up from his nap. Then it’s play time, hopefully including some outside time, especially now that Bitty can sit in the grass and play as well. Our physical therapist blessed us with a playskool turtle sandbox, complete with sand, so Busy Boy has been thoroughly enjoying that along with the inexpensive water table I found earlier this summer. Bitty usually naps at this time too.
5:00 PM – More snack as I start dinner, ‘cuz we always end up eating late.
6:00 PM – Hubby gets home from work and helps with the littles as I try to finish dinner. I love, LOVE, love seeing Hubby in his amazing role as Isä. He and Busy Boy are bonding incredibly well. It helps that Busy Boy is such an easy going, funny, interesting kid of coarse, but he has taken to Hubby in a huge way.
7:00 PM – Dinner. It’s fun eating as a family again.
8:00 PM – Bath time. Busy Boy loves to sit and play in his little tub. He also likes it when Bitty Babe comes to join him. He enjoys helping to wash her and he likes to tickle her belly and her toes. After his bath I rub him down with coconut oil infused with lavender and eucalyptus oils. I started this when Bitty Babe had RSV this past winter, but it’s a great way to get more touch opportunities, as well as check for booboos, and nourish their skin. One of my favorite heart-warming moments included this little ritual. As I rub the oil into his skin, I sing Busy Boy a song, “This is the way we rub the oil, rub the oil, rub the oil, this is the way we rub the oil right before bed time.” One night, Busy Boy got his fingers into the jar and took out a little too much oil, so I asked him if he would rub it on my arm. As he lovingly rubbed the oil in, he sang the song to me in his beautiful little way. It was a great little reward from heaven.
8:15 PM – Bed time for Busy Boy! Just like nap time, Busy Boy gets his blankets and his sippy cup of water, gives Isä kisses, and heads to bed. After I close his curtains, I sit with him on the floor and rock him as I sing my favorite lullaby from Psalty to him. Then I pray over him, thanking God for putting this amazing child in my life. I put him back into his bed, kiss him good night, tell him I love him and leave the room. He might fuss a little, but is usually out before I get to the living room.
8:30 PM – Chill time with Hubby. I might get some dinner clean-up done, but I usually do most of my dishes the next morning during breakfast. I need this time with my sweet husband. Plus, Bitty doesn’t go down until at least 9, and is extra needy in those evening hours.
11:30 PM – Night night! I take the dog out, brush my teeth, crawl between the sheets, read my Bible, turn my music on, and am out!
4:00 AM – Bitty usually wakes up declaring that she is starving to death, so I stumble out of bed, use the facilities as fast as possible, make her a bottle, and try not to fall asleep on my child as I give her the sustenance she so desperately desires. Then back to sleep for as long as possible.
Wow. Just writing all that really reminds me of how much life has changed since Jeremiah and Gabe were here. Gabe came to visit last weekend, and he commented multiple times how funny it was to see all the baby stuff around the house. He loves it though, and is so glad to have the opportunity to be big brother to Busy Boy and Bitty.
I was working on a really nice post to introduce you to my beautiful Busy Boy in a more in-depth way, but just as I was doing that, literally as I was typing it, we got a call at 11:30 PM to take an emergency placement of two girls, a 16 year-old, and her two year-old little sister. We said yes to a temporary placement. That was a month ago. The post is getting closer to completion, but just not “there” yet.
Life with two two year-olds has been an adventure.
The best parts of having two year-olds a month apart is that they entertain each other, enjoy each other’s company, entertain me with their antics, and are learning all kinds of fun things together.
The worst parts of having two year-olds a month apart is that they teach each other not-so-fun habits, they enjoy screaming at each other, a lot, just for fun, and with the addition of our 8 month-old, it’s really hard to get any chores or shopping done effectively.
The best parts of having a 16 year-old in the house are getting the chance to teach important life skills, encouraging her that she is a capable person who can make good choices, and my house getting really clean when she does not make such good choices.
The worst part of having a 16 year-old who has not been taught many appropriate life skills in the house is that it sometimes makes it seems like we have 3 toddlers.
I have felt very isolated this month. Between visits for the girls, therapies, and other appointments, I have not been able to spend much of any quality time with friends this month. We didn’t even get to do anything for our anniversary. The girls will only be here for another week, and then I am hoping things can settle down into a more practical schedule. Ugh!
Bitty’s health has been a struggle. We are having medication issues, but thankfully we have a wonderful pediatrician who is working very hard to make sure Bitty grows into the healthiest girl she can be.
Now that we’ve got some of the med stuff under control, Bitty decided it was time to START CRAWLING! She is everywhere! This is a milestone that we never got to experience with Bright Eyes, because although she moved to her new home when she was about 9 months old, she didn’t start crawling till she was almost a year old. Bitty is actually the first child I’ve gotten to experience this milestone with, and that is so incredibly special to me.
Although her motor development has always been ahead of the curve, Bitty has some continual special needs as a result of the substances she was exposed to in utero. One of these issues is that she is a very sensory-sensitive kid. She startles really easily, and gets over-stimulated without warning. She is also having trouble starting solid foods. She will not open her mouth to eat off of a spoon, and if I do manage to get some in there, she gags to the point of throwing up as soon as it hits the back of her throat. She will, however, eat a graham cracker, although most of it ends up on her face and chest. We have an OT coming out this week to help us address these issues, which are becoming even more of a concern now that she is so mobile. Formula alone is just not cutting it even more.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, Hubby and I just passed our 11th anniversary. Crazy. Last year we didn’t get to celebrate because we were in the middle of our battle with Jeremiah. This year, there was too much going on with our current wards. My birthday is coming up this weekend, and I am hoping that Hubby and I will be able to etch some time out for each other. It really feels hard to breathe sometimes with all that is going on, and August is going to be NUTS! Lord Jesus, have mercy!
Gabe came home to visit this weekend for the first time in over a year! It was wonderful! There was absolutley no awkwardness. I just really enjoyed spending time with my son. Plus, it was super cool to see him bond with Busy Boy and Bitty. I got some great pictures of my 19 year-old holding and playing with my littles. It warmed my heart so much. He is not always making the best choices, but our relationship has been restored, and that is more than I hoped for a year ago. Plus, it was really funny watching him watch me discipline the 16 year-old. He said that he almost wanted to go into the kitchen and tell her “It’s just not worth it!” Hehehe. Wonderful.
Okay, I think that my brain cleared out some cobwebs now.
As I said in the last post, we knew that God knew what He was doing, and that even if the sib placement didn’t work out, that He had a reason that He was preparing us.
Finally, two weeks after we got the initial referral for the sibling group, our agency gave us a call to tell us that the variance for other family had been approved, so we would not be getting the 4-pack, but before she even took a breath she had something else to ask us. She asked me, because Hubby was at work, if we would consider taking a two year-old boy. She and his assigned worker spent the next few minutes on speaker phone with me telling me the little they knew about him. He had only been in care a few days, and was initially placed with a foster family who decided they couldn’t handle his tantrums. They told me that apparently he tantrums when he hears “No,” hits himself, and hits his head on the floor.
All I was thinking at this point was, “Does this family not know ANYTHING about 2 year-olds?” Everything else about the boy was extremely positive, and the tantrums didn’t scare me a bit. I actually really enjoy the strong-willed-ness that comes with toddler-hood. I love how they are developing their sense of self, and literally learning how to be human. I love their creativity and ingenuity, and how they can help you think outside the box, because they do it so naturally.
Anywho, I told them that they would most likely get a “Yes,” but I had to call Hubby first, so I called Hubby and gave him the lowdown, and he asked me to give him an hour to think and pray about it.
When the hour was up I gave him a buzz, and he said “Yes.” It wasn’t even a tentative “Yes.” It was the kind of answer that comes from knowing true peace.
That was Tuesday. He would be coming the next day.
We had painting to do.
As a not so fun sidebar, I got a really bad case of the stomach flu that previous weekend, so I was not good for anything other than lying on the couch sipping water. That put all of our well-intentioned preparation plans on hold, so when we got the call about the little boy we had no choice but to go into overdrive.
Hubby came home from work and got right to painting. I finished up the last coat Wednesday morning, just hours before our new little guy would be arriving.
There was such a lack of info on this little one that we really didn’t know what to expect. When our worker pulled into the driveway, I was definitely excited, but not nervous at all.
It’s a weird feeling, waiting to see who this little person will be. I’ve never given birth, but I imagine that it’s similar, except we often have mere days or even hours notice to anticipate these new members to our family. This time was particularly strange because, unlike Bright Eyes or Bitty Babe, this boy was already 2 years-old. He had 2 years of history that we were not a part of. 2 full years of experiences that shaped his little personality and his perception of this world of which we would never know the full extent. That is something unique to the foster care and adoption experience that is hard to describe completely.
Anywho, the caseworker took him out of his car seat and I got my first glimpse of our new addition. He was tiny for a 27 month-old. He wore a blue camouflage hat that covered his strawberry blond curls. His bright blue eyes sparkled as he pointed at me and smiled and said something in his own little language. He reached up for me and I scooped him up and brought him up the stairs, and together we held the door open for the two workers (his worker and a worker in training) as they brought in his stuff.
It only took a few moments for me to think of the perfect nickname for this little dude. As he raced around our house, exploring every detail along the way, I dubbed him “Busy Boy.” The workers (his worker and a workers spent about half an hour with us, answering questions as best they could, and observing his comfort level. They were both impressed at how observant he was and how quickly he figured out the house.
One thing that struck me right away was how intelligent Busy Boy was. I showed him his room and told him “This is your room!” and that was that. His sense of humor caught me off guard. At one point, while the workers were still here, he found a small blanket, covered himself up, and pretended to snore. I cracked up!
Anywho, I could talk about Busy Boy’s amazing personality all day, and I will definitely be expanding more about his first few days with us, but for now I will say that first impressions were better than I could have imagined. He is definitely strong-willed, and used to getting his way, but his “intense tantrums” were laughable, and he responded immediately to the structured environment we provided.
We don’t know what the future holds for either of our little ones, but things are definitely heading toward the long term for both. This is an exciting time for Hubby and myself. We daily put our family in the Lord’s hands, and we are enjoying every moment that we are blessed with these precious little ones.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions, hard choices, and great rewards.
As I said in my last video blog, we were faced with the opportunity to take in a sibling group of 4 little ones. We went to meet them and fell in love. The DHS worker wanted us to take the two babies that night, sight unseen, but we did not feel comfortable with that arrangement. For one, we had to talk to Rachel about it. This is her house too, after all. So we told the worker that we needed a couple of days to think and pray about it, then we would make our decision. It would be a major life change, taking on four, especially four so young (6 months, 2, 4, and 6), but we had one question nagging at our hearts that just wouldn’t go away: If not us, then who?
So we prayed about it for two days, and then we took the leap of faith and said “Yes!” We made the decision as a family; Rachel, Hubby, and myself all had to be in agreement, and we were. There were definite concerns, things that freaked us out completely, but in the end we knew that we had to be obedient and say what our hearts were crying, and they were crying for these kids.
So after we said yes, we waited. We waited to hear what the next step was going to be and when the kids would be coming home. We were determined to be their last foster placement, so we wanted to be as prepared as possible. We immediately started preparing our home and I put out an SOS to everyone who might care to start gathering supplies.
Oddly, there was little communication from the DHS of the county the kids currently resided in. It was days before we heard anything, and then what we heard was that the DHS worker wasn’t sure about the placement any more. She thought that we were “standoffish” at the meeting, which we found incredibly ironic, as would anyone who knows us at all. We were incredibly confused, especially after she initially tried to get us to take the kids immediately, without ever even meeting us. Anywho, our agency’s amazing foster care director was a great mediator and tried to get things figured out, but the DHS worker was being incredibly confusing on all sides.
But we kept preparing.
That next Monday I had to travel up their way to bring Bitty Babe to a doctor’s appointment, and their DHS worker thought it would be a good idea for us to meet the children again, for them to get to see us, and for us to get any questions answered, since we were told at this point that the move-in date would be that Friday. Rachel was going to be with me, so that would be a great opportunity for her to meet them. The meeting was really, really odd. We had a great time playing with the kids, but the DHS worker disappeared! When she did show back up, she wouldn’t answer any of my questions. She was being incredibly elusive, even with simple things like the kids’ clothing sizes and food preferences. I thought that maybe she just didn’t want to talk in front of the children, so I asked her if we could talk later that evening, and she said she would give me a call after she dropped the kids off.
She didn’t call.
She didn’t call the next day either, after I left her a message asking her to PLEASE give me a call back.
She never called.
What in the world was up?
Finally I got a call from our agency saying that the DHS worker had been working with a different family trying to get them to take all four, but they had 4 already and so they were working on getting them a variance, since 8 is above the state’s licensing limit. We (our agency worker included) were dumbfounded! Suddenly, the tables had totally turned. The DHS worker went from handing over the babies sight unseen, to totally changing her tune and trying to keep the kids in her county. The part that frustrated me was the unprofessionalism of leading us on, allowing us to continue to prepare for these kids, even having us come out and spend more time with them, when all the while she had another plan. Also, the lack of communication was very irritating. Why didn’t she just tell us that they were exploring other options? Why didn’t she call me back when she said she would? COMMUNICATION, PEOPLE!
Anywho, even after we were told about the new plan, we still had to wait to see if the variance would be approved for the other family. If it wasn’t approved, than we would be the only choice to keep the 4 together. So we waited. In the mean time, we knew that even if this placement didn’t work out, that the Lord had been preparing us for a reason. Whether it were just an exercise in obedience, or whether He had another child in mind that He wanted to open our hearts for, we knew that He had a plan that was bigger than any DHS worker.
Finally, this past Tuesday our agency gave us a call to tell us that the variance for other family had been approved, so we would not be getting the 4-pack, but before she even took a breath she had something else to ask us….
Today was very spring-like. It was near 80 degrees, which is very odd for the U.P. in the middle of March. Heck, just a couple weeks ago we got over 2 feet of snow overnight! It’s wonderful to see the sun and breathe in the sweet, earthy air. I am seriously getting some Spring cleaning fever, which is difficult to satisfy with a needy 4 month-old hangin’ around. In a way, okay, a big way, I am hoping that this change of weather is symbolic that we are entering into a new season in our lives. Things have calmed in a way that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago, but with that comes some sadness of the realities of why things are so calm.
Wednesday was Gabe’s 19th birthday. Yup. I am the mom of a 19 year-old. That wouldn’t be so weird if I weren’t still 2.25 years away from 30 myself. I mention this not just to say “Happy Birthday” to my sweet son, who is reaching back out to us, and trying to make some very hard choices right now, but also because his birthday marks the beginning of a huge season of trauma-versaries for us. Huge, life changing, never-thought-our-life-would-be-like-this, trauma-versaries.
It’s been a year.
And instead of sitting here on a Friday night with two adolescent boys watching a movie, or playing a board game as a family, or dealing with the latest tantrum fallout, I am sitting here with my sister, my husband, and a sweet 4 month-old who has never even heard me raise my voice, watching the DVR recordings of our favorite shows.
It’s only been a year.
And one of my sons is living on his own in the next town over, doing his best to deal with the consequences of the adult choices he was so eager to make. Our relationship is being restored, finally, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to be the parent to an adult child.
The other of my sons is also dealing with the consequences of his choices, and on a scale he can not possibly comprehend right now. He won’t be coming home. He’s in a place that I pray will usher in the healing that he so desperately needs. He will be 13 at the end of this month. I’m missing that. I’m missing him. The real him. I’m not missing the trauma. I’m not missing the way my heart still races when memories of that time come invading my mind.
In a few weeks Hubby and I will be heading to the Parenting in SPACE conference. It will be a big reunion for me, and a big opportunity for Hubby to connect with other dads who “get it.” As excited as I am, the conference also marks the first domino leading to what we thought was death, but was just the intense heat of the refiner’s fire.
So maybe you can see why this is rather surreal for me to be sitting in a quiet house next to a sweet baby girl who looks into my eyes with peace and adoration.
The alarms are gone. The padlocks are gone.
There are still holes in the walls, and we even found a random poop smear (how did he get it up there?), but with my Spring cleaning fever, I’m sure those will all be resolved soon.
And then what?
Maybe eventually we will get used to this newness. This season of expectation. Expecting good things. Anticipation.
What is He up to?
What will this Spring bring?
PS, Be looking for a new Springy theme next week! I didn’t expect winter to actually disappear before Spring officially got here.