(This is the draft I thought I posted months ago.. but somehow lost..)
Every couple of months, I get a new follower. Today someone started to follow me and I couldn’t remember when the last time I wrote. (its been a long long time) I’ve looked through my 17 drafts.. found a couple I should clean up and publish. I posted one.. the rest I’ll save for a rainy day.
I’m not done.. I still have grandchildren at home to raise. Girlie is living her grown up life, boychild is now manchild spending days working and nights out with friends.
Almost six years have passed since I started on this journey. I still struggle with the shift my life has taken, but I keep on keeping on. I still wonder what my life would have been like. I want to tell grandparents/kinshippers/foster parents.. its hard, but it is still so very worth it. There are days I wish we could be “just grandparents” but this is our normal now.
I still struggle with feelings of guilt .. not doing enough for the littles, not doing enough for the bigs, not doing enough for my husband.. but in the end.. it is enough.
It is doing the routines day in and day out. Making those HUGE memories (camping trips, school projects and special days) and the small ones that will someday morph into one amalgamated memory. (playing cards in the evenings before bed.. spending a Saturday cleaning , followed up by pizza and a movie)
It is enough. Dinners and lunches, field trips and dentist appointments. It is the day to day minutia we live that will keep them going. The weekly phone calls with bio-parents and the yearly visits…they live for those moments.
In the mythical mind of an abandoned child… the lost parent is the savior, the one who would really make things better, who wouldn’t care if socks matched or if your hair was brushed. the one who has the greatest ideas for fun ..
I try hard not to smash the myth of the mythical parent.. but I’m only human and I can’t say I haven’t stooped to the level of “No, I’m not your mother.. I’m HERE, working to raise you and love you and make you a productive citizen! ” I’m not proud of those times, but as I said.. I’m human.
For all the time in-between the visits and the phone calls they still have to live.
That’s what we do. We get on with the ugly business of daily living. Of loving during the unlovable times and standing strong in the face of “you aren’t my MOTHER”. The slammed doors and stomping feet of adolescence takes on a new meaning when you remember there are some things you will not be good enough for.
BUT, in their hearts, you are so very good enough, and you are wonderful. You stand up and cheer at concerts, you burn the grilled cheese and you put the duct tape on the favorite pair of sneakers. You grab the macaroni necklace out of the trash bag and you put it in a special box for safe keeping. You are the steady rock and the steadfast faith.
To the other Kinshippers out there… don’t give up. Keep loving and praying. Keep checking the homework and buying the groceries. The path we took is one less traveled by .. and it has made all the difference.
In the world of parenting, people are divided into two groups..
there are distinct lines of parenting we see in our social circles. I’m not talking about the have’s and the have-not’s.. I’m talking about the volunteer and the volunteer-not’s.
I have typically fallen into the category of volunteer. (or EXCESSIVE volunteering if you ask my family) I help. Its what I do. I used to have a problem saying NO to people when they ask for help.
I also tend to befriend other people who help. They are the ones with me in the daily trenches. We step up when asked… (sometimes even before we are asked). We also try to outdo each other with our self sacrifice. We are the ones people know they can call on for help. BUT .. we are killing ourselves a little in the process.
Once upon a time.. I tried to save the world. I gave it my all, I was the one everyone tried to catch up to and I was EXHAUSTED… I was never home and I didn’t have quality time with my kids. I prayed for guidance and for strength to let others take on the big events.
So, now I’m stepping back. I’m turning down invitations to help out at PTO events. I’m offering to buy snacks rather than bake. I actually called out of a volunteer commitment last week, because I wasn’t feeling well!!!
There are times I worry that my grandchildren aren’t getting the full commitment that my kids got when they were growing up. But, then again, my kids didn’t always get the full Mom they needed when they were growing up. I was always out saving the world.
I have a friend, who makes me crazy. I only got to know her a few years ago when I got custody of the grand-kids. Her children are near the age of the two littles. When I first met her, she was on my committees, she was the newby and I guided her into the activities and encouraged her to take the lead on events. We talked the same volunteer language of scouts, school, band, and faith.
Last week, while we were sitting at yet another meeting. This time, she was the chair and she had an event coming up. I ALMOST jumped to take it off her hands and to do it myself. I held myself back. I remembered. I made my family a promise that I was going to step back from helping so much. I was going to let others step up and take the reigns. The problem is, despite everything I do, I am worried I am not doing enough and the others who volunteer will judge me for my lack of stamina.
And then I remembered.. THIS AIN’T MY FIRST RODEO.. I rode this bull until I was exhausted and now I’m on my second go round. Many of the friends I made when my daughter was growing up are now enjoying empty nests. My nest is still full.
It took me a long time to realize that although I COULD still keep up with the new parents at the school.. I don’t have to. I can find the happy medium between drop-and-go parent and martyrdom.
I enjoy my time with this crew while they are growing up. I am still helping save the world. I just have learned to say NO. I have learned to say I want to help, but I can’t. I will have the guilt of knowing someone else is stepping up to do too much, but I also know that I learned a lot about giving when I did that. I learned what it was to be compassionate and caring to those around me. I found joy in the giving. Now I can step aside and let someone else (maybe even two or three other people) find that joy.
I don’t know what I was going to post in this . I think I did write something, but then it disappeared.
Ah well.. Day to Day.
Day to day I watch them grow
I see them understand more about the world around them
about their pasts.
Day to day I argue about dirty laundry
and who feeds the cat today and if they bothered to
take the damn dog out.
Day to day I worry and I wonder
will they grow to resent me for keeping them safe
or will they thank me.
Day to day I plead and I cajole
I make them want a better education, a better life
than the one they were born into.
Day to day I feed them
I feed their bodies with food, their minds with knowledge
and their souls with my love.
Day to day I thank God for them.
I don’t know how I got so lucky to share my life with them
but I am so glad I can.
I don’t know why I never posted this.. I wrote it three years ago.. it seemed relevant to me today, so I thought I’d share.
There are days I feel so very blessed to have these kids and days I am grumpy and discontent. Some days I’m a little bit of both. It is a very emotional rollercoaster for everyone in the family. I have such pride in the end of year accomplishments, the badges from scouts, the sports achievements and the end of year grades. We’ve made it through another school year. My oldest grandson is astounded that he is graduating from the same middle school he started three years ago. My granddaughter has bridged from Daisy to Brownie to Junior Girl Scout with the same troop she started with way back in 2011.
It seems like such a life time ago, when we picked up three sad children from a loving foster mother. They were excited and so very nervous to come with us.. starting a new life far removed from the life and the lifestyle they knew. Fortunately time has clouded the memories of hurt and need. Time has eased the pain of loss and shame. Time is healing the wounds of the past. If only there weren’t new wounds. If the families they love could see the milestones they have reached. If they could make the time to call and share the trials and successes of the weeks as they fly by. Instead they ask me to text a parent to remind them to call on Sunday nights. They ask me to mail letters to a parent who didn’t bother to send a birthday card. They get very little and still are willing to give their hearts.
I am constantly amazed at the resilience of these small people. We have had our battles and our turmoils, but we are stronger for it. We have had our massive disappointments at the choices of some and the attitudes of other very selfish family members, but the littles and I are getting through it. We are learning to forge a new path through adolescence. So many things have not turned out the way we planned, but then again, my life before the littles wasn’t a straight path to happily ever after.
Hello again, its been a while. Our life went from crazy to straight out madcap for a year…too many obligations, too many hoops to jump through. Every spare second I had, I tried to rest. Now things are calmer, kids have moved out and on. Girlie to the grown up life, my boy to Army boot camp and one grand has started a new life with his biological father hundreds of miles away. I keep thinking I should change the name for the blog now that we only have two kids at home, but I still worry about all five so, I guess I’ll keep it.
Two weeks of vacation camping with the littles gave me a weird insight to being an empty nester. I’m not sure I’m cut out for that. . The first week the littles went off to a wonderful camp in Massachusetts while I was supposed to relax on the beach nearby. (that never happened) I was befuddled by my time alone. I tidied the campsite, wrote letters to my son at boot camp and I felt guilty for not being productive.
I tried to keep myself busy..I biked the campground, I read…. I got sucked for three hours into a Walmart Super-center vortex one day and the laundromat the next. I also decided those were the days I should sit at the library and do some research for work. One day I missed a phone call from my soldier and cried for the rest of the afternoon. I did spend a nice day with my mom shopping, but all in all I spent just a few hours total on the beach by myself. I totally failed at being alone…
The second week, we behaved like tourists. We went to a local amusement park, we ate lobsters, played in the ocean and rode our bikes. #3 got up super early and watched the sunrise. We did have some very nice visits with family and watched shooting stars late into the night. I didn’t relax, but I didn’t feel like failure either.
Our two weeks of camping fun is over and we arrived home late last night. The extreme heat allows us to hibernate today. We have a few short days before I have to head back to work, but really our school year has already begun. Cheer practice, scouts and community commitments are looming before us.
The littles are ready to be back with their friends. I have a pile of paperwork to complete and we still have yet to purchase a single school supply. With only two kids at home back- to-school seems too simple. Once upon a time I am sure school starting with two kids seemed like a herculean task, now it just seems like an ordinary day.
Ordinary days stretch before us. We will have school and some sports, but everything will be less. Yes, there will be less laundry, less clutter, fewer schedules to coordinate, and fewer doors slamming; but there will also be fewer smiles and hugs. There will be fewer late night talks, fewer celebrations.
How odd this new life… so much like the life I was leading six years ago, but now I know what I was missing then.
What you deserve my dears:
you deserve healthy food at regular meal times
you deserve a warm bed and clothes that fit
you deserve a good education
you deserve an adult who checks your grades and gives you consequences when you miss homework
you deserve someone who holds you accountable for your misdeeds
you deserve someone to listen to you when you are touched by the sadness of a news story or a field trip.
you deserve traditions
you deserve stability
you deserve warm hot chocolate on a cold morning
you deserve time to sit on the couch and veg out
you deserve to be taught how to do chores
you deserve to be silly when the mood strikes
you deserve impromptu drives
you deserve a hug
you deserve someone to tell you I love you every single day.
you deserve someone to stand behind you when you are scared
you deserve someone to teach you how to shave
you deserve to be part of a family
you deserve to go to church and learn to love God as HE loves you.
you deserve to be taught respect for our country
you deserve to go to camp
you deserve to play in the band and be in Scouts
you deserve to be told NO sometimes
you deserve surprise milkshakes on a hot summer night
you deserve grilled cheese and tomato soup after a hard therapy session
you deserve to be taught to sit quietly and be patient
you deserve so many things I can’t count,
You don’t deserve the craziness in your past,
you don’t deserve false promises
you don’t deserve fleeting moments when they remember to call
you don’t deserve excuses.
So its a snow day.
Its the first we have had in a long time. We don’t get much snow here in the mid-Atlantic. We get rain, and freezing rain, and then maybe some drizzle, but mostly its lovely weather. Typically we get one decent snow storm a year and then we have spring. This year, we were almost sure we had missed our chance. Today we got snow… big (for us) snow .. nothing of course to compare with our family in New England, but enough to close schools for a day (or two) .
I love snow days because I see them as God’s gift of day off . (because unlike my husband, I am non-essential personnel I don’t have to go out of my house if I don’t want to) I get to momentarily forget that my very first driving lesson was six hours after a blizzard ended and my driving instructor told me I had no choice. Here in the(relative) south, I get to pretend I don’t know how to ease my way up a snowy road.
“OH NO” I exclaim.. “I can’t go out.. they haven’t plowed my road yet.” (from the 6 inches of fluff) I use the day to stay at home and catch up on some paperwork, watch some trash tv and cook wonderful comfort food. I might do the regular chores of the house, or I might not.
This is a bonus day. A day to hear the children laugh and play on the hill behind our house. A day to make hot chocolate and bake brownies. A day to settle on the couch mid afternoon with a book and a cup of tea. A night to walk the dogs with my husband in the amazing stillness only a snow-covered road has.
I will take this gift and enjoy it. I shall not squander it by being too productive. I will rest and relax in the quiet. I will throw six hundred pairs of gloves in the dryer and I will just ………. enjoy it.