Dog- Tired Part 2

“It’s a great feeling when your work is appreciated.” ~ Jacqueline Fernandez

For the most part, Kiddo’s been progressing really well. On some days, doing much better than hubby or me. Because at this point in the story the honeymoon stage of fostering was at its end, and my inner Snapperhead snapped because I was dog-tired.

Steve agreed to let me sleep in the next day, which was the first time in a few months.

I awoke to the sounds of Kiddo having a meltdown. From what I could tell, Steve was handling it well, yet I wondered if I should still get up.

My intuition said to stay in bed.

Moments later, I heard Steve start to move down the hall. “Get dressed while I get going on breakfast,” he said.

Kiddo replied with a lot of sassy talk.

Steve’s footsteps returned.

“You may not speak to me that way,” I heard him say. “Now get dressed like I asked.”

More whining . . .
More crying . . .

I pulled back the covers to get up. My intuition prompted me to sit still and listen in.

Steve then asked Kiddo, “Do you need a hug?”

I didn’t hear anymore crying, so I laid back down.

“You better?” I heard Steve ask.

Kiddo giggled with a yes.

“Good. Now please get dressed.”

Steve’s footsteps passed the bedroom and into the kitchen. The refrigerator peeled open followed by the sounds of coffee brewing and cupboards closing

I shut my eyes, feeling grateful I had a little more time to rest.

Half awake and half asleep, I was later jolted by something banging.

Steve was crying out in pain. “Ow! Open the door.”

I scrambled to my feet and peered across the hall. Steve was bent over, holding Kiddo’s door with one hand while cradling his leg with the other.

Kiddo was pushing against the door with all “them’s” might.

Being bigger, my husband could open the door, but as he moved toward the bedroom, Kiddo swung at his face and began kicking him hard.

Though Steve handled it well and we all talked as a family to address the behaviors and feelings, when it was all over, my husband was exhausted both emotionally and physically.

“I am sorry,” he said to me a little later, when we had some time to ourselves. “I didn’t know how bad it could be until I walked a mile in your moccasins.”

I hugged him and accepted his apology.

The next morning Steve kissed my forehead and told me what an amazing mom I am. Then just as I sat up so I could go tend to Kiddo, he lovingly encouraged me to continue sleeping in.

After my hubby left the room and closed the door, I seriously considered his offer.

Although catching more zzz’s was most tempting, deep down I knew what I had to do.

Dog-tired or not, we are a team.

So I joined him and shared in the morning routine.

——

ete

Dog-Tired Part 1

“If you’re completely exhausted and don’t know how you’re going to keep giving this much of yourself day after day, you’re probably a good parent.” ~ Bunmi Laditan

So it happened. My patience gave out and I yelled hard.

Hubby and kiddo were gone. I  had a small window of free time and was so grateful for the silence I almost cried.

Though deep down I had known I’ve been grieving solitude, I had been far too busy to process it all.

Head’s up: My pent up feeling were about to have a field day!

“You’re becoming a snapper head,” my husband Steve had said the night before. It’s the name I’ve asked him to call me when I’m acting like a “B.”

“I know it” I admitted, “and I’m sorry, but all these responsibilities are starting to take a toll.”

Steve laughed. “Whatever. Just please stop making me walk on eggshells, okay? Besides, how hard can staying home be?”

I did my best to explain but he didn’t get it. For 10 straight months I’ve been knee deep in playtime, bath time, bed time, and meal time day after day plus running Kiddo to at least 3-4 doctor, counselor, therapist and specialist appointments per week.

For anyone who has every been the primary caregiver of a child with special needs, I understand how exhausting it can be.

And now, with a moment to myself,  I was determined to relax no matter what.

I moved to my office downstairs. My desk was covered in receipts. It had been months since I was able to reconcile the books or file the bills.

Tension moved through my shoulders and tight neck.

Staring at the futon, I sighed. Should I take a nap? When was the last time I had gotten at least 8 hours of sleep?

My head turned toward the laundry. I winced. Wet clothes were in the washer, another pile on the dryer, and when I opened the hamper it too was full.

Stress stacked up inside me with no escape.

Then the dogs started barking from the back yard- the kind of bark that goes right through you – the kind that makes you cringe because you cannot help but wonder what your neighbors might think.

I took a deep breath, hoping it might calm me down, but the dogs kept yelping so loud it pierced my ears.

“Ahhh!” I loudly shouted, running to the window on the lower floor. I spotted some turkeys near the front of the house.

The barking persisted and would’t let up.

I took a flight of stairs so I could let both pets inside. As I opened the door, one of the dogs ran past me and left a long trail of mud on all the floors.

I screamed. I yelled. I lost my sh*t.  I was aware of my volume and didn’t care.

——

ete

Part 2 coming soon . . .

An Imperfectly-Perfect New Arrangement

“Every time I change the way I explain myself to myself, I have to rearrange the story of my life.” ~Mason Cooley

 

It’s been said we can never step into the same current twice, yet for most of us we can at least predict the level of the water and how it flows.  – That is until a child like Kiddo comes into your life . . .

Nine months ago our river was redirected and our lives overturned. Little did I know my life would look the way it does today.

After Kiddo arrived, I had to grieve on and off in order to mourn my old life and give room for celebration of the new.

A marriage counselor shared this some time ago: “When a child comes into the picture, it’s like mixing up a mosaic. All the pieces you started with are still there but the perception shifts because the pieces are rearranged.” ~ Gina E.

Even today I keep breathing around each river bend. . .

Accepting that clients are okay with waiting and are ready as time allows.

Accepting that our spare bedroom is no longer a place for motorcycle garb, camp gear, or seasonal clothes but rather a toddler’s hang out filled with flashlights, books, and forts designed for laughter, play and sleep.

Accepting that the bathtub is no longer a private sanctuary filled with candles, soaps, and oils, but more of a hang out for rubber ducks, squirt guns, alphabet letters, and toy boats.

Accepting that the toothbrush holder does not have to have a designated spot and that it is okay to share brushes because after all, the baby teeth are at least getting brushed.

Accepting that morning meditation includes a second set of hands and little feet with lots of hugs and kisses in between.

Yes,

I am accepting our imperfectly-perfect new arrangement, filled with lots of sticky twists and gooey turns.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Life Is A Gift

“Synchronicity is God sending us messages anonymously.” ~ Deepak Chopra

In the summer, a doe visits us on our mountain property. We call her Mandi. This is her 4th year so far, and I know this because when Mandi was just a fawn she was curled up under some willows down by the creek. I would hear her cry out every now and again.

For several days I listened and I prayed, all the while remaining hopeful her mom would return, but she never did.

Around day four, Mandi began to move around. Her legs were wobbly and her white spots were fresh. I could sense her hesitancy as she gained the courage to venture from out of her hiding spot.

Slowly, she made her way over to our bird feeders. I joyously watched her munch on some fallen corn and downed seeds. From a distance, I began to quietly talk to her, reassuring her that everything would be alright.

I knew Mandi’s chances of survival were slim, but that didn’t stop me from having hope. I kept telling her again and again that she was safe and that so long as she stayed close to our house and remained tucked into the shrubbery every night, her chances of survival would be good.

My heart so wanted to walk near her, yet I intuitively knew the importance of keeping my distance so that Mandi could thrive in her natural environment.

I continued to trust and to pray.

Around day seven, God-Source sent in a mama doe with a youngling. This doe allowed Mandi to nurse for awhile, and it was beautiful to watch. I had thought for sure they would all walk away together as a family, but for whatever reason the doe and her youngling moved on after the feeding. This went on for several nights until Mandi was strong enough to make it on her own.

Today it is not uncommon to see Mandi two to three times throughout the day. She often returns to lick off the salt block or roam through the grass, munching on wild clover or leftover seed casings from the lawn.

Last month Kiddo noticed this special deer for the first time when I began talking to her from our front porch.

“Hello, Mandi,” I said knowing it was her, because unlike the other deer who wander in, she is not the least bit fearful of our dogs.

“Mom, who’s Mandi?” Kiddo whispered in awe.

I smiled then explained the story of how Mandi and I first met.

After a moment of silence, Kiddo’s reflecting eyes lit up.

“Mom, guess what? Mandi’s birth parents couldn’t take care of her so God brought her here where she is safe –She is just like me!”

I embraced Kiddo with a nod while silently giving thanks to God-Source for sending such a gentle creature with a beautiful reminder of the gift in everything.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Mother Lode

“Little souls find their way to you whether they’re from your womb or someone else’s.” ~ Sheryl Crow

In some cultures, there is a belief that children choose their parents so as to teach them whatever lessons they need to learn in this lifetime.

I am beginning to see the truth of this, because having Kiddo in my life these past four months has been some of the most magical and most difficult days of my life.

A huge KUDOS to all you parents reading this because I had no idea how time consuming or how challenging this would be. Juggling kids and career and spouse and pets plus making time for family, friends, and the upkeep of the house . . . Holy Moly. It’s a good thing I have been working out.

Seriously.

Also, things have been way more amazing than words can say such as being able to witness all the new ‘firsts’ and rapid growth spurts as Kiddo gets bigger before our eyes.

Yet as grateful as I am to God-Source for allowing me to parent this little miracle, I would be lying if I told you I have been patient and accepting this entire time.

Let me tell you there have been days where I couldn’t help but wonder “what the heck am I doing?” and “why did I ever say yes to this?”

Not only is this a child we are fostering with special needs which means we have very little history on record to refer to when we are asked questions like “did “them” have chickenpox or how was their delivery, but also I have no idea how long Kiddo will be with us, and this very idea has caused me to keep putting up protective walls as a crazy way of hoping it will keep me from getting hurt.

Yet the more I do this, the more Kiddo nestles deeper into my heart. Just a few weeks ago “them” started calling me mom.

The first time it happened I froze. I wasn’t able to accept this endearing term at all.

Why?

Well, at first I had myself convinced it was because I was afraid that God-Source might separate us again and I was keeping myself from being hurt.

But then I was reminded by the caseworker that “them” doesn’t remember meeting the birth mom and has no ties yet to anyone specifically. And that if I don’t allow a bond to form, the child may never attach to anyone.

Wow. This is a really big deal, so, why then have I been resisting it?

The truth is I have waited for this for a really long time, and now that I have it, I am having a really hard time allowing myself to be loved as a mom.

Though it’s beautiful and miraculous and honoring, it is also a huge responsibility.

Quite honestly I want to run and yet I want to stay. I love the role yet I also fear it. So there are days I want things to go back to the way they were but I know I would miss what I now have.

I have heard this is normal, yet I still feel afraid, and so I will do what I have taught so many others to do when they feel fear — I will keep moving through it one day at a time and continue to trust knowing I am doing the very best that I can.

Merriam Webster’s defines mother as “a female parent”

Parent is defined as “one that brings forth offspring (i.e.: parents to twins)”
OR
“a person who brings up and cares for another (i.e.: foster parent)”

Happy Mother’s day to all of you moms reading this.

Though admittedly I have been having difficulty allowing myself to be called MOM, I know it’s because I have had a belief that only the woman who gave birth to our Kiddo was deserving of this.

And so I take it one day at a time, slowly giving myself time to process it while allowing the possibility that Kiddo has really chosen me to be her mom. As I take this all in, I smile from within and simultaneously need to take a breath just to accept the enormity of it.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Sink or Swim

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.” ~ Sophocles

For the past few weeks Kiddo has been part of a kid’s program that takes ‘them’ on lots of different adventures including a recent visit to the local pool.

Parents take turns volunteering during certain field trip events and for this particular one, I sat on the sidelines and stayed home.

Kiddo came home with a reminder note from the program that said:

Dear Parents, Please have your child arrive with their swimsuits underneath their clothes so they are ready to go.

A date and time then followed along with instructions for transportation.

I pinned the note to my refrigerator being sure to set out a swimsuit for Kiddo the night before the big day arrived.

Come the day of swimming, Kiddo was ready to go and just as instructed, ‘them’ was in their swimsuit with clothes on top.

A few hours later, Kiddo returned. “How was swimming?” I asked.

Kiddo shared it was fun.

“Where is your swimsuit?” I inquired.

Kiddo shrugged.

I pulled up ‘them’s’ clothes to have a look. No swimsuit.

Oh No! As I peered down Kiddo’s pants, it then hit me that I forgot to send undershorts along.

Quite, honestly, it never even occurred to me given I was so focused on remembering the day, the time, and the swimsuit.

What makes things even more strange is Kiddo WAS wearing undershorts but whose?

They were not any that I recognized.

“Who’s undershorts are these?” I kindly inquired.

Kiddo’s head fell down with guilt as ‘them’ then said, “Are you mad?”

I held back a laugh by biting down hard on my lip.

“Nope,” I grinned. “I’m not mad. Now please tell me who’s undershorts these are?”

Kiddo was reluctant at first, face a pout. With a little more coaxing and a hug, Kiddo finally blurted out, “They’re Sammy’s”

A cackle erupted from my mouth.

“Honey,” I said, doing my best to compose myself. “Does Sammy know you have these undershorts?”

I had to hold my stomach now I was laughing so hard.

Kiddo began backing away, probably unsure of how to react.

Composing myself, I asked again, “Honey, does Sammy know you took the undershorts.”

Kiddo shrugged, “I dunno’”

I began to imagine some poor child in the swimming room frantically looking for their undershorts because Kiddo felt the need to steal them off the floor.

Talk about sink or swim. And call me crazy, this caused me to laugh even more.

In all honesty, laughing is a coping mechanism on my part to release strong emotions.

I mean come on. I send my child to go swimming without a towel or dry undershorts.

“Okay, Kiddo,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief, “Thank you for telling me. Let’s take off these undershorts so I can clean them and you can return them to Sammy.”

As Kiddo pulled them down, the shorts were streaked with “bacon strips” and I have no idea if they were Kiddo’s or not.

Who was laughing now?!

ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

In Sickness and In Health (Conclusion)

In addition to dealing with the flu, Kiddo has some physical and emotional issues that have required my husband and me to get ‘them’ to different medical appointments at least two times per week.

So after seeing two physicians over the course of nine weeks, it was suggested we then see a specialist.

Lucky for us, the five hour drive was close to our second residence, so away we went for a few days.

Making the drive over the mountain pass was rather rough. Not only was it below zero temps, we also got stuck in deep snow twice and did not arrive to the bungalow until early evening.

“I hafta go potty,” Kiddo said.

Though normally we would have proper accommodations for this, our porta potty was buried in two feet of snow.

“Okay,” I smiled, grabbing the next best thing. Then I quietly left the room.

Unbeknownst to me, Kiddo was pooping in the pail.

When I realized what had happened, all I could do was laugh.

My amusement disappeared though when I realized I had no running water to clean the mess.

My husband helped me melt lots of snow so we could rinse out the pail.

Then would you believe, it wasn’t long after Kiddo had to go again!?

UGH.

At least this time we were smart enough to put a liner in the pail.

The next day we all headed down the mountain and into the city so we could go to the specialist’s office.

“I hafta go to the bathroom,” Kiddo said.

No problem. Since I had a lot of paperwork to fill out, I thought it would be a good idea to let Kiddo go into the bathroom by ‘them’ self.

But after turning in all the forms, Kiddo still had not come out.

Another 2 minutes passed.
Then 5,
Then 10.

I quietly knocked on the door. “Kiddo, you okay?”

No response.

I jiggled the knob.

The door was locked.

Several people in the waiting room were now watching me.

“Kiddo,” I quietly begged, “open the door and let me in.”

No such luck.

A minute or so later a nurse began calling Kiddo’s name.

“I’m sorry,” I said, my face turning red. “Any tips on getting a kid to come out of the bathroom?”

The nurse just shrugged and then looked down at her clipboard to call out the next patient in line.

Trying the bathroom door again, I began knocking even harder. “Kiddo, open up. The doctor is ready to see you.”

A few seconds later the door flings open. Kiddo is standing there with pants around the ankles and then loudly yells, “I was Pooping, okay?!”

Everyone in the waiting room laughs.

When we get into the exam room I say to the doctor, “I apologize for keeping you waiting. I think Kiddo may be a little bit nervous about today.”

Kiddo quickly disputes with a shake of the head.
“Uh. Uh. Nope. I just had to go poop, that’s all!”

🙂

ete

“And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have ye never heard, Out of the mouths of babes and infants thou hast perfected praise?”
– Matthew 21:16

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Any Way You Slice It – Part 2 of 2

My bloody finger was now wrapped in a paper toweling and twisted tight with a rubber band. Then just when I thought I had things under control, I saw dinner was burning on the stove.

Working quickly, I grabbed a wooden spoon with my good hand and began chiseling the bottom of the pan.

Oh well, I told myself. A little burnt taco meat never hurt. And besides, I had to get Kiddo off to bed soon, so I couldn’t afford anymore delays.

Despite the fact that I could feel my pulse through my finger, I managed to chop some tomatoes and shred some lettuce and cheese. I then added some corn shells to the toaster oven before turning back to help Kiddo open the remainder of the gifts.

So far so good. We had twenty minutes to eat, brush teeth, and go to bed.

As Kiddo ran around enjoying “them’s” new gifts, I turned around to see the taco shells toasting to a crisp.

Moving as quickly as I could, I used my one good hand to yank each shell from the oven.

AHHH! Two shells broke, and now my fingertips were burned.

Doing my best to stay positive, I plated the shells so the cracked ones could come to me and all of the burnt sides were facing down.

I then helped Kiddo get situated at the table and positioned the pan of taco meat in front of my place setting.

All I had to do yet was grab our plates. But as I set the wooden spoon down into the pan so it was ready for serving when I returned, the moment I walked away, the pan tipped over, the spoon went sailing, and taco meat went flying everywhere.

For the love of God!

My first reaction was to “fly off the handle” much like the spoon, but instead of yelling my little head off, I stayed silent and took it all in.

As I washed up the chili powder stained mess with each of my charred fingers, I looked up at Kiddo, happily devouring my disaster of a meal.

So this is motherhood, I thought.

It’s clumsy, it’s messy, and it’s exhausting.

Yet no matter how you slice it, it is a gift from God indeed!

ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Any Way You Slice It – Part 1 of 2

It’s been over month since Kiddo arrived, and in the past few weeks, some family and friends have kindly mailed gifts to honor the occasion.

Kiddo was really looking forward to opening a package my parents had sent and excitedly opened the silverware drawer. “I help,” Kiddo squealed, grabbing the scissors and jumping up and down.

How sweet, I thought. ‘Them’ wants to help.

I reached out to take the scissors from Kiddo’s hands just as the blades opened and closed on my middle finger.

“Owwwww,” I cried out, pulling my hand back to cradle it from the pain.

“I sorry…. I sorry…I sorry,” Kiddo whimpered.

Blood began soaking through my fingers. “I know it was an accident,” I managed to say as I dashed into the living room and fell to my knees.

Rocking back and forth, I cupped my finger high in the air, taking several deep breaths for relief.

Moments later, I could feel Kiddo approach me from behind. I quickly pulled myself up off the floor then grabbed a Band-Aid from the hall closet.

After wrapping the bandage around my finger, “Okay,” I said as cheerfully as I could, “let’s see what’s inside of the package.”

Half-way through opening the first gift, my finger began spurting blood again.

Kiddo noticed it first. ‘Them’ began to squeal, “You okay? You okay?”

I looked down to see more blood dripping onto the gift packaging.

“I’m okay,” I winced, turning on the faucet with my good hand so I could soak my wound under the cold stream.

I stared at the red pool of blood forming at the bottom of the sink. Would I need stitches? I inspected my finger more carefully.

Nope. I’d be okay. I just needed to bandage two sides of my finger instead of one, since both ends had been caught between the blades.

Not wanting to delay Kiddo anymore, I yanked some paper toweling from off the roll, wrapped my finger in it tightly, then twisted a rubber band around it to keep things snug.

I have got this, I told myself.

And I nearly believed it too.
That is, until I realized dinner was burning on the stove.


ete

-Part II coming soon-

 

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)