The Week After

Last Friday was the day. We said “see you later” to our sweet twins. They were 10 months of joy, learning, and love. As first time parents, we were tested in every way of our lives. Add an extra layer to the complexities of parenting by being a foster parent and the legalities, rules and restrictions, the constant merry-go-round of notifying at least five people at all times of our every move, and the emotional impact was exhausting.

We taught them to walk, to use utensils, to try different foods, we made Christmas cookies together and we got to see what Christmas is through a child’s eyes. We took them to the Children’s Museum and watched their little bodies play to exhaustion but fill their big minds with lots of interesting concepts. We had our first summer in this house with them. Many of you were there. We bought a kiddie pool and took them swimming for the first time. I remember being so disgusted but finding it hilarious when they pooped in the pool…and the tub. We swooped in like hawks to pull them out of that water. I remember feeling like a shit parent when one of them fell out of the chair, but through her lip, and bled.

We had a good relationship with their mom, we had a bad relationship with their mom, and now we’re back to having a decent relationship with her. We never had a good relationship with their dad. He’s a piece of work. I’ll leave it at that. I became the biggest fucking mama bear that ever lived and more times than I can count some people heard my roar. We took them to the doctor probably too many times in the beginning. We didn’t miss a court date. We advocated tirelessly for them. If not us, who? I don’t think we’ve laughed and cried so much in our lives. We gave every. single. bit. of ourselves to loving and protecting them. We made permanent life changes, some of them huge, for a temporary situation. We gladly made those changes knowing exactly what we were doing. We did so because they needed us and we were too happy to accommodate that.

And now they’re gone. I threw their sheets in the wash today and I cried. I knew I was washing away every trace of their angelic little selves out of those sheets forever, but I know the next kidlets will come along needing a clean and safe bed, and one will be waiting to welcome them. I don’t smell them in their room like I used to, which is both relieving and heartbreaking. Their bathroom no longer houses their Minnie Mouse potty where they’d go to after they’d point to their cute little bums and say, “Poo poo…”

This week was harder than I expected. Every day knocked the wind out of me. I was exhausted. Drained. Empty. I thought for sure my work would keep me distracted but that didn’t work. I was on my way home on Monday night and normally I’d be walking in the door to them having returned from a weekend at their moms. I’d burst into the house and my soul would ignite with joy at the sight of their little faces. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen on Monday I didn’t want to go home. In fact, I avoided it.

Tuesday came and the depression of them not being there on Monday night poured into the next day. On my way home from work, I’d normally pick the twins up from daycare on Tuesdays because that was the one day during the work week they didn’t have a visit. No picking up from daycare anymore. In fact, I just so happened to take the freeway home that day. Later that night, I realized that taking the freeway home meant I didn’t drive by their daycare on my way home. Deep in my mind I knew there was no picking them up when I got in my car. I just didn’t realize it in that moment.

Wednesday came and Mitch had to return to working the night shift. I came home to an empty house. No husband. No kids. Just me. By myself. Aching for contact and knowing it wasn’t coming. I tried my hardest to avoid feeling anything I felt on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. By Thursday and Friday I had just given in to feeling shitty. One thing about both Mitch and I, we don’t do depressed very well. We’re not really that way. Even if something hard is going on we’re still always looking at the positive. I can’t possibly explain to you how enormously impossible it felt to be positive when everything we loved walked out the door and didn’t come back.

I woke up at 3 am this morning to the musical chair going off. For a minute I thought it was all a bad dream and I was waking up to them still being here, but no. It went off 3 more times, digging in the dagger a little deeper. I laid there and cried. Mitch was at work, so I didn’t have him here to cry with. This sucks as equally for him. When he’s here in the mornings and I’m not and the girls aren’t, I know he is pained with the silence, the emptiness. When we’re together we just try to be easy on each other. Supporting each other through this has been crucial.

The few toys they weren’t attached to stayed here for the next littles we have, but for right now, they’re childless toys and we are childless parents. For anyone that ever thinks a foster parent isn’t a real parent, you kiss all of our asses. We’ve never been so committed to anything in our lives. We’ve never loved and sacrificed as hard as we did over the last 10 months. A friend told us we treat our kids better than some bio parents treat their own kids. Being parents has given us direction and purpose. We don’t like not having kids in the house right now. It’s not who we are anymore. Now that we’re on the other side of the fence and we don’t have them running around anymore, we realize we love the chaos, the schedule they need to be on, and all the ritualistic things that came with having twin toddlers.

I got in the kitchen today to craft some dishes for Easter tomorrow. I turned on the music and let myself sing and cook. I let my mind get lost in the creativity and the precision that comes with my meticulous nature when preparing dishes from scratch. It was nice to have control over something. I haven’t really felt that in awhile. As great as my new job is going, I’m still learning and trying to establish a process and I’m not learning things as fast as I want to, which drives me fucking crazy. Thankfully, I love the team I support and I love the work I do. Someday soon I’ll be a machine there. So that’s one way I feel out of control, the other is that I have no control over where the girls live anymore.

Sorry for the long entry. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably one of few. I likely lost people at paragraph #83. I want to thank you for being so supportive of us, this blog, and for loving us through what has been the shittiest and most incredible time of our lives. Your support has been critical to our ability to move forward. Thank you for loving us, the girls, and the kids we will someday soon welcome into our home.



The Beginning of the End

I know that title sounds so dramatic but it is. By next weekend at this time, our girls will be happily giggling and playing in their new permanent home – their mom’s home. We’re having a hard time processing this idea. Seems like the last few days, today especially, has been difficult to understand. We have a lot of emotions going on right now and they’re all sort of spinning around at the same time; each one contradicting the other. It’s confusing because you’re not really sure which one you should latch onto and follow.

I guess I’m just feeling sad for us. For my mom. For our friends and family. I’m fine one minute, in tears the next. I’ll probably cry 5 different times just writing this post. When I think back on all of the wonderful, pivotal memories we’ve made together my heart swells with pride, happiness, and accomplishment. And then I retreat and deflate a little (or a lot) at the impact their departure is and will have on our hearts. All of our hearts. What makes me feel really good (in a weird way) is when people on Facebook tell us that they’ll miss our girls too. To me, this means we have done a good job being transparent in our struggles and generous with our joy. To know that others have learned from, grown from, and considered this journey because of what we have shared makes us feel like we did an OK job at something we knew nothing about.

The other struggle is this: how long do we wait? We’ve been asked this question umpteen million times. Hell, we’ve asked ourselves umpteen million times too. How long is long enough? Don’t wait too long or else you’ll lose spots at the great daycare you’ve found. Don’t take more kids in too soon so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to fill a void. (For the record, no child will ever fill another child’s void.) Don’t say no for too long, you don’t want to miss the child that would have been perfect for your home. All of those things run through our minds about 20 times an hour. It’s hard to know how long we wait…or if we wait at all. We can see the plusses and minuses of each side. And as soon as we come up with a definite game plan, here comes the next little that’s sleeping in a hotel room with a social worker until the right home comes along. Now if that isn’t tragedy, I don’t know what is.

Over the last week there’s been an influx of kids coming into care. When they start using the words, “Emergency Care” or something like that, you know it’s because nobody else is willing/able/whatever to take in the child for whatever reason. I’ve lost track now at the number of kids that are in dire need for a place this weekend alone. The clothes on their backs, empty bellies, and broken hearts is all they come with sometimes. “Here! Our door is wide open! Let them all come in!” our hearts exclaim. Logically, we try to stay reserved as our hearts break when we read how sweet these kids are and how their small but significant lives are being shaken up like a martini.

We’re scared. We don’t know what the right thing to do is. We thought for sure we were going to take a break but we just look at each other and say the same thing at the same time. “As broken hearted as we are, there’s no way in hell I can let a kid have nowhere to go. We’ll do it. We’ll welcome them in.” 

Keep in mind, this is still new to us. There have been a lot of “firsts” since we got our girls in June and now this is the first goodbye. (Typing that was painful!) This is also the first time we’re having to figure out how much time we should or shouldn’t take. We won’t know what the right answer is until we do or we don’t. We’ve got a line of people 20 miles long ready and willing to give us their advice. Ready to tell us what we should do. I’ll kindly thank you for your well intentioned support. We know you’re looking out for what’s best for us. The truth is, only we can make this decision.

Do realize that we know this hurts you. You’ve read along, liked our posts and pictures, come to our parties to celebrate, supported us when we shed tears (more to come!), and sent gifts, cards, yourselves over to comfort us. You’ve engaged, believed, prayed, laughed, smiled, cared, cried, disagreed, and encouraged. You’ve felt our emotions as closely as you possibly could have without being us. Because you support us, because you follow us, you have been through the wringer, as well. It must be hard to watch people you care about be in pain over something that has been so beautiful. So maybe you aren’t ready for us to have more kids. Maybe this has been too hard for you. Trust me, we get where you’re coming from.

No promises is all I can promise at this point. I feel like we look so dumb saying we’ve got a plan and then realizing that our plan wasn’t a plan at all. Maybe it makes sense in our minds to feel like we’ve had some say in this so we’ll say we have a plan, but we now realize that in the world of foster care the plan can and likely will always change. For now, I know this much. The girls won’t be home until Monday night, they’ll have a visit with their mom on Wednesday and Thursday night, and sometime on Friday, probably in the morning, they’ll be returned home to her. And then that’s it. 

Here come the tears again. It’s weird. This is so final. All of it is coming to a close. Their sweet faces and voices not to be heard on a daily basis anymore. We’ll have to use the 1,000 pictures and videos we have saved to watch them. The hard part will be not being able to hug them. The hard part will be remembering the funny things like when Doc McStuffins comes on and they look at you and smile big, hold their hand out toward you and motion their little hand to come over, and they say, “Monn!” and you realize they’re saying “Come on and dance with me to the opening credits of this show I love so much!” So you get up and you dance around like a toddler and they laugh wildly. That’ll be hard; to not hear, see, or engage in that with them. It’ll be hard to walk into the room that was first theirs and know it’s not theirs anymore. Their room is somewhere else. This room will be someone else’s. A childless parent. 

I could keep going on but it’ll just get more depressing so I’ll stop here. Maybe you can see how we’re straddling both sides of the fence here. The one side where our hearts are broken and devastated by the loss of the twins; the other side where our hearts and broken and devastated by the lack of homes for kids in dire need of love, stability, and comfort. What do we do? What’s the right thing? Is there a wrong thing? I feel like we’re really being tested here, yet there was no way to study, so you don’t know how to pass or how to fail. I guess we can only do our best and wait for the results.