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.
And I wouldn’t be able to share very much about why it sucked, so it’s just not worth it.
2012 has started out with slightly less trauma, because we only had to say goodbye to Bright Eyes (Baby E’s new name, cuz’ the whole initial thing was getting too confusing.) But at least she is in a loving, Godly home, where she is with her two sisters, and close enough that we can visit her on a regular basis. That’s why it’s less trauma.
Bitty Babe (Baby A’s new name) is doing extremely well, and now that I only have 1 babe to focus on, things have calmed down considerably. She is a sweet little thing, but is really struggling with her weaning process. She’s so much more rigid and spastic than Bright Eyes ever was. She is in pain the majority of the time, so if she’s awake, it’s rare that she’s not crying. I can’t wait till she is completely done with her wean so we can see what little girl will get to emerge.
Bitty’s case is so up in the air at this point that we have no idea how long she will be with us. There is a lot of family involved, so it’s possible that someone could step up to take custody at any point, but that’s not the impression that I’m getting. Visits so far have not been consistent, so we’ll see how that develops. Hubby and I are a little more guarded with this placement because of the heartbreak that happened with Bright Eyes. We want to make sure we have all the information possible before we commit to any decision. For now, our job is to love Bitty as completely as we can so that we can give her the same opportunity to thrive as we did for Bright Eyes.
Our baby girls have been amazing ambassadors for the need for foster parents. They both have attracted so much attention when we are out and it almost always results in at least one good conversation about the need for foster parents in our community. Unfortunately these conversations usually include the phrase/question that I have come to dread and despise. It comes out something like “Oh, I could never do that. How could you give them back?” Or “Doesn’t it just kill you when you have to give them back?” or, the worst of them all, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I would just love them too much.”
As if we don’t love them with all of our hearts.
As if it is easy for us to send these babies on to whatever is in store for them.
It’s called SACRIFICE, people!
We love them completely so that we know that we didn’t hold anything back. We give them everything we have to give so that we never have to wonder “Did I do enough?” We give them the gift of a strong bond. The gift of knowing that they were loved and cherished. Not just safety, although that is critical, but nurturing.
I’m not strong enough, but the love is not from me. I just pass it on. How could I knowingly chose to not do that?
Okay. Venting over.
Who knows what this next season will bring, but I definitely hoping for something better.
We are appealing the decision, but I have no confidence.
Jeremiah’s situation is so up in the air.
Where will he be? Who can help him? What role are we supposed to play? How much can our hearts handle?
It’s been hard to be thankful because I’ve been so angry. Angry that we are having to go over yet another hurdle, and another. The past two years have been so hard and it’s just not letting up. We are asking a lot of questions that there just are not easy answers to.
It’s hard to breathe.
This weight that’s on my heart feels so overwhelming that it makes every breath a conscious effort. Every smile is a decision.
My friend Eileen said it so well.
“If it looks to you as if I don’t take something seriously enough because you cannot see the blood from my broken heart spilling out all over, ok, that’s good cause that would scare the kids. And maybe what you see is me standing on the rock of my faith – my incredible Father, Who is working things out in our lives. Or, maybe what you are seeing is some therapeutic dancing and singing because we are intentionally choosing not to live in the pain every. moment.
You know they say you cannot judge a book by its cover… along those same lines – you cannot always see the brokenness of a life by looking at someones’ face.
Imma gonna dance on – with you or without you, it’s ok, I have friends who get it.”
But sometimes there are just too many unanswered “what if’s,” and sanity is just not possible.
But I am choosing to be thankful. Choosing very carefully what attitudes I hold onto. The emotions and the feelings and the thoughts come like darts and hit at some very inconvenient and even inappropriate times, piercing me to the deepest parts of my…depths, but I choose what stays.
Somehow, I’m going to have to choose to say “You give and take away, blessed be Your name.”
But be patient with me, and remind me gently, and if I yell at you and tell you to shut up, love me anyways, and then try again later.
And keep praying for us, ‘cuz none of this makes any flippin’ sense.
So, just in case you didn’t know, or are calendar challenged, like I am, the holiday of Thanks Giving is next Thursday.
So that means that procrastinators, such as myself, need to get their butts in gear and start preparing their hearts, minds, and blogs for some major thankfullness.
I’ve been inspired by bloggers, whose organizational skills I covet, and their beautiful posts expressing an area of thankfullness (why is that not a word?) for each day leading up to the 24th. Posts like this remind me how truly blessed, spoiled really, I am.
So, I have some catching up to do.
I am thankful for:
My relationship with my Heavenly Father. This might sound cliche, but this year especially I am so thankful for knowing my creator in a personal way and, more importantly, that He knows me. That He knows my needs in ways that only He can; that not even I know. That is good.
My husband. He is my best friend. He is so much more than that. He has truly become part of who I am, but that is what becoming one is supposed to be, right? More on him next week.
My sister, Rachel. She is my other best friend. I am so thankful for her support and her joy.
My sons. They are a learning experience that I never knew I needed. They’ve stretched me. They’ve brought me closer to my Heavenly Father. They made me a mom.
My critters. I am so glad that God made animals. I love my fuzzy friends. They were my first children, and I even got to name them. Hehehe. (Infertile women, unite!)
Baby E. She is my sunshine. I am thankful for every day with her. Enough said.
My family near and far. God gave me you for times like this. I love you. One of you needs to invent a teleporter, like, NOW!
My church family. I can’t even describe how much I love you. I recognize that very few are blessed with a community of believers like the one my beloved and I belong to.
My community of trauma mamas and papas. I can not imagine going through this journey of parenthood without your support, wisdom, friendship, and dark humor.
My home. It’s quirky, but I love it. My favorite part is our living room. It’s big enough to romp around in (think what you will), and has a beautiful sandstone wall and a fireplace. Oh, how I love our fireplace! If we are ever out of this trauma cycle and actually get to remodel, I want to put a stone hearth (is that what it is?) around it so that I can use it for cooking. Wouldn’t that be cool? I think so.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I love this place. It’s something you just have to experience to understand. The lakes, the trees, the snow (yes, I love the snow!), the stars, the people, there’s just nothing like it.
Food. I am so thankful that we have access to so many choices and flavors and that I can create with, and enjoy, and nourish my family. Food is good.
Electricity. I often long for the simpler things, and I know I could do without this modern convenience, but I am definitely thankful for it. It allows me to listen to beautiful music and uplifting messages. It allows me to watch shows and movies that make me laugh and cry. It allows me to share life with friends and family far away. It allows me to share my mind and heart with you. It’s a good thing.
My health. This is an area I’ve struggled through my whole life, and it still is a struggle, but when I put things into perspective, my health issues are mainly annoyances. My body is strong and can fight things off in a reasonable amount of time. I have access to medicines and supplements and all kinds of nutrients, as well as the ability to research them. Plus, I know who my healer is, and that is good.
Okay, that’s 14. Now, hopefully I will be able to remember to continue to post for the next 10 days.
First, I was going to write this amazingly detailed post about how I long for the simpler things, and simpler times, and how much joy I get out of the hard, day-to-day, mama work; but then that amazingly detailed post turned into an amazingly LONG post. Hehehe. So, I scrapped that.
THEN I was going to post about how excited I am that today is Halloween; not because I like Halloween, because I really, really don’t, but because it means that tomorrow we get to start getting ready for two AWESOME holidays, namely Thanks Giving and Christmas, but since I already kind of wrote about my Halloween feelings here, and I will definitely be writing plenty about Thanks Giving and Christmas, I decided that I didn’t have much to actually say about that subject right now.
And then I was going to write about how annoying it is that people, especially young people, in today’s culture don’t know the basic rules of grammar, and tend to write in discombobulated thoughts that turn into really long run-on sentences, but who wants to read about that?
I met my friend Lindsay at the Parenting in SPACE conference back in April, ya’ know, right before everything EXPLODED. We immediately clicked. I think our first conversation was about how our trauma kids smell….like, bad. We are both drama geeks, and we both love to laugh, even when it’s hard…especially when it’s hard.
I trust her. She has become another amazing mommy mentor that I wish I could carry around in my back pocket. I really do trust her, but dangit (‘cuz I’m not good at swearing) do I ever want to smack her sometimes because she is so very good at challenging my heart when I’d rather not go “there”.
She wrote this today. I don’t get it. It is not sinking in. Sure, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve let God use the trauma to root out and replace some major issues in my heart, so in that I am thankful, but I’m not thankful for the truama itself, I’m thankful for what God has used it to do, but I’d rather that He chose a different way.
“THIS is why we keep going. THIS is why our children aren’t our greatest burden. THIS is why hurt kids don’t ruin our lives…but rather bless it with heaven’s richest blessing if we just allow ourselves to get down and get dirty and stop fighting this precious gift, a gift more priceless that rubies, that just happens to be wrapped in a ripped up, peed on, spit on, moldy old package.”
I am not there yet. I still feel like one child in particular is a burden, or rather, not him, but what the trauma has turned him into. I don’t really know how to say that, and to admit it makes me feel so icky. I still feel like this kid came really close to ruining my life, and I don’t feel like I was blessed with heaven’s richest blessing through him. I’m not there yet. Will I ever be? Don’t know. Really, really don’t know. (See, you know I’ m frazzled when my grammar goes out the window.)
But this is why I surround myself with people who “get” what this journey is like, what I am going through, what our family is going through, and what my kids are going through. I can trust them to show me what life CAN be, and that it won’t always be how I see it today. And some days, I hope I can be that for them, although I am definitely feeling like the baby in the group most of the time.
But I’m learning.
p.s. Baby E had her 6 month appointment today and rockin’ all the doctor’s expectations. No one would know that this little wonder had such a rough start. Praise Jesus!
Now I’ve been told that this may be a false memory due to the fact that I’ve seen the video of her birth and been told about it so often, but I don’t believe this. Sure, I was just barely two years old, but I’ve always had a good memory, especially for sounds and smells. I clearly remember our babysitter holding me and being upset that she wouldn’t put me down. I remember the walls and windows. Was there a window looking into the birthing room? Maybe. I remember wanting to sit with my mommy on her bed, and I remember my dad saying “It’s another girl!”
Rachel’s birth was special for a number of reasons. She was the first baby born at this particular hospital to have her whole family present at her birth. They had just built their new family birthing center, and Rachel’s was the first birth to get the “whole family” experience. This was a big enough deal to make a full-page article in the local newspaper, of which my dad apparently kept more than 20 copies, which I discovered when going through a box of his keepsakes.
The second reason Rachel’s birth was important was that my parents had decided that she would be the last of our brood. My parents were really big into natural family planning. In fact, each of us had been very precisely spaced using the ole’ temperature chart method. I laugh at this because it’s another science thing, and that’s exactly how my dad would have it, although my mom was obviously in agreement. Anywho, after having four beautiful children, spaced 2-3 years apart, they decided that our clan was complete ,and my dad scheduled himself for a vasectomy. Or maybe my mom made him. I’m not sure on that one. My older sister, Sarah, told me once that she remembers the day he had the procedure because she wasn’t allowed to sit on his lap. I’ll have to take her word on that one, as that detail did not make its way into my memory.
So on that warm August day in 1986, my mischievous, notorious, hilarious, sweet, sensitive, creative partner-in-crime entered my sphere. For years we were rivals, which is a story for another time, but now I am blessed by her every day, and she totally deserves to be my first memory.
LOVE YOU, RACHEL!
***Note: This was attempt 2036.5 to get myself out of my trauma-created writer’s block. I got myself a new resource to give me ideas, so, again, my goal is to write every day. Even if it is just a sentence, I do not want this traumatic time in my life to silence me. Nope!***