As we end 2011 and I think back to the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the past months, I really am content with the year. Sure we had drama (what family doesn’t) we had loss and we made sacrifices.. but we also weathered a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake and a whole host of visiting relatives with the strength of a family unit.
Last year at this moment, my husband and I were driving back to South Carolina to deliver the children back to the arms of the wonderful foster-mother who had housed them for six months. It was a hard transition, but we had been assured that by the month’s end, we would be back to pick them up. Thanks to endless red-tape, the month turned into six weeks. It would have been longer had the foster-mother and I not emailed, called, faxed, cajoled and threatened every state official and lowly bureaucrat on the east coast.
We started out 2011 alone with the kids in a hotel room watching the television, eating Oreos and drinking sodas from the vending machines. We didn’t know at the time that they had never stayed in a hotel room before and were amazed that we would get breakfast for FREE in the morning! We will spend tonight eating Oreos again (because they like family traditions) and playing a combination of card games, board games and video games. The countdown will be bittersweet, but exciting. The children have spent every major holiday and birthday with us for one year, and have plans in place for many years to come.
For the first time in their lives, they have a home they can count on, and an assurance that the future will be stable. They know with absolute certainty that they will end the school year in the same school they started it. The know that the Christmas decorations we pack away today will be brought back out in 11 months in the same house, with the same family surrounding them. They have become integrated into this house and this family in a way that only time and shared experiences can accomplish.
So a year has come and gone, together as a family we played like tourists in Washington DC, we found Easter Eggs in the yard, we camped, we hiked and played throughout southern Maryland. We drove the length of the east coast to visit my family and made many new friends. Our year was filled with t-ball, baseball, scouts (both boy and girl) beginner band (trumpet and trombone!) theater productions and football. Some plans didn’t come to fruition (spending time in SC visiting with extended family down there, me running a 5k) but as the months came and went we crashed our way into a new normal. I have wiped sick brows, bandaged knees, dried tears and attended school awards ceremonies. I said prayers, checked homework and doled out discipline. Nothing else I have done this year is as important to these new family members as knowing that in the coming year, I will be there to do it all again.