I did not realize how much free time I had until I went from fostering a high-needs seven-year-old girl and back to being childless again. I have so much free time. Why haven’t I given my house a thorough cleaning or written a book or learned how to build furniture or tackled poverty or … parented a child? In many ways, I am still grieving the absence that she created, and in many ways, I am so relieved to have control and quiet and safe animals again.
My whole world was reshaped by this fostering experience. I became a tooth fairy, cuddled up to teach a young girl how to read, took her camping, and became a member of a new family where only a couple had been before. Then, after an avalanche of tears and tantrums, broken promises and destroyed things, cries for help (both hers and our own), we were back to the smooth, steady sailing of our own comfortable coupledom. What a whirlwind we had survived together. What a strange ripple in time she has left behind.
Her absence and necessary departure have caused introspection and a fierce desire to create, create, create. After so much chaos and destruction, I have thrown myself into my hobbies because those crafts provide a productive and creative outlet. For three months, my hobbies and interests were subsumed by the need to care for a small, volatile child. Now, those pursuits are at the forefront of my days and evenings. We purchased a spinning wheel, and I can spin away the hours and produce my own skeins of yarn. I finished sewing the behemoth curtains for the living room window. That sweater project I have tried again and again to finish, I’ve knitted down to missing a mere sleeve. The quilting kit I purchased last year will finally emerge this weekend to be cut, pieced, and quilted.
As the autumn days wane and the darkness of winter approaches, I imagine that many more crafting projects will be dug out from shelves and drawers to be finished. I may start writing a book or stash away more projects or learn some other crafty skill. Maybe I will finally succeed at making my own cheese. Amid all these pursuits, though, are the big questions, the ones I can’t answer yet. What could I have done better? Can I foster again? Will I ever be a parent? Do I really want to be a parent? Am I ready yet? What about now?
I feel a genuine loss, and I’m not sanguine that stitching that wound with fabric, yarn, and roving will quite leave an invisible seam behind. It will, however, transform useless, disparate pieces into a functional whole that is lovely despite its imperfections and visible scars.