As I was finishing writing my post about the changes to my family that resulted from honest, healthy, and very adult conversations about feelings, wishes, and values, my foster children were already gone. Yes, gone. Shortly after I hit publish, one of the alarm clocks for the girls went off… and off… and off. So, I went to see what the deal was, and both girls were just gone.
Over the last two weeks and over the next month, my family of the last four and seven months is disintegrating. We had some major traumatic life events occur, including the hospitalization of one of our kiddos. One particularly awful night, both kiddos disparaged our home and lifestyle out of anger and frustration (intentionally and perhaps not so intentionally). They said that they didn’t choose to live here and didn’t want to live here.
One of our foster kiddos has been living apart from her siblings since she came into foster care. She briefly lived with one of them, but she’s been separated from them for far too long. She misses them intensely. Two of her siblings recently moved to a group home in town. After several texts and conversations, we got the go ahead for us to take the girls out together or have them over to our house.
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.
I have many a time reached for something sweet when I felt overwhelming waves of emotion. I’m significantly better about not reaching for a Reese’s peanut butter cups or a two-serving brownie frosted with caramel and chocolate because something has distressed me or I don’t feel good. It hasn’t been easy to overcome a lifetime of emotional eating, but I’ve made some darn good progress. Now, as a foster parent, I’m trying to teach my kiddos some of what I’ve learned.
Teenagers are hard to place in the foster-care system. We always assumed we’d get teenagers because, well, we’re open to having teenagers. My husband works with teenagers, and I used to work with teenagers. We understand their dramas and their this-moment-is-everything attitude. I’ve had teenagers be incredibly mad at me. So has my husband. We’ve both had teenagers cry with us about their struggles. We’ve shared in their exuberances. We genuinely and truly like teenagers.
When your world changes, say, having two teenagers arrive at your house after you’ve spent the previous week feeling discombobulated after meeting with three foundation contractors, some of your habits may fall by the wayside. You might keep exercising every day (point, Rachel!), but you might not be reading thirty minutes of Latin and writing for thirty minutes every day (points, world!). Your dog probably isn’t getting walked over your lunch break either because you’re spending that time on the phone with caseworkers. Yes, he’s still giving me those puppy-dog eyes.