Before we loaded up our rental van, I was on the verge of tears. Big tears. I didn’t even want to go on vacation. I wanted to hide in my bedroom, shut the door, and cry, cry, cry followed by a weeklong bout of sleep. I was hardly in the state of mind to begin a two-week vacation with my beloved husband, our two foster kiddos, and Marmy the Motoring Marmot. July has been a stressful wreck in-between all the work, both professional and educational, and other life changes.
I could be writing about the glorious Saturday I spent in the garden, where transplanted broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and Swiss chard and cut up more sod to lay down weed paper. I could be writing about the quality time my husband and I had when he was so thoroughly and utterly exhausted but wanted to play board games and I totally slayed at Agricola. I could be writing about my hopeful trepidation about receiving a new package of bees this afternoon. Or about how my sewing machine still isn’t working properly. Or about the latest farming book I finished. Or about the rich blue roving I’m spinning into yarn with increasing uniformity.
My mom moved to South Carolina just under a year ago, and I miss her for many reasons. The first Super Bowl party without my family was a little rough because I have to start new traditions after losing an old one. My husband was a little bummed to miss out on the tradition of drinking Scotch with my stepdad while watching the big game. Scotch is what has made watching the football game tolerable for my husband. I miss the crazy amounts of food my mom has always made for the game.
We bought a stuffed toy marmot in Yosemite National Park at the end of our section hike on the Pacific Crest Trail after weeks of making up stories about the various marmots we had greeted on the trail. When you spend a month hiking, you start doing silly things, like greet marmots and make up stories about them. We felt a little silly purchasing a stuffed marmot for ourselves, but we have never regretted adopting him. After two and a half years, he’s still our mascot, scapegoat, brunt of jokes, and our regular road-trip companion.
When we took our initial foster-care placement for respite care, we did not expect to be told after our first weekend together that our kiddo’s foster parent had unexpectedly died. No one plans for such things. Not adults. Certainly not children. In our shock and concern for the kiddo, we decided to become her permanent foster family. It didn’t make sense to us to uproot a child again when she had comfortably settled into our respite placement. The choice to become her foster family was easy, but helping her grieve and honor her lost family has been much, much harder.
Getting the call to ask whether you can take a child is a nerve-wracking experience. You’re on the phone, combing through all the questions you thought you should ask and wondering whether you’re prepared to care for this kiddo. Saying yes is terrifying and thrilling and terrifying and thrilling. After saying yes, I cycled from hysteria (how will I entertain a 7-year-old?) to rapture (I get to play with a 7-year-old!). I was told this is normal, but what do I really know? This is our first placement, our first foray into parenting.
We were sitting in a park in my hometown, watching a merry batch of seven-year-old girls throwing softballs to each other and then chasing the errant balls down like kittens with string. One girl put her helmet on backwards. Another drew in the sand by third base, oblivious to the girl at bat. My husband and I giggled to each other in between our cheerful waves at a girl with a bright pink mitt. How did we get here so quickly?