Listening to my favorite song this morning.. and it was a good reminder. We must enjoy the small stuff. Life is too short.
I feel like we are just spinning our wheels… Life is flying by. We are so busy. But, so much of it just ends up being “busy” not things that are adding to our lives.
I actually had more time off this week than I have in a *really* long time! And it was really nice. But, I don’t know if I took advantage. I don’t know if I used my time wisely. I don’t know.
I also have been having good days here & there as far as my mental health. I feel like I have had a few really good days. But, I also feel like I am still right on the edge. One comment here or there can unravel my entire day. Sometimes it’s even just a thought that sends me spinning. I plan on going to my doctor soon… I think it’s time to adjust my medications. I also need to get back to working out. There are so many excuses for me not to, but I know it helps.
I have not gone to the gym, but I did run yesterday. I honest to God, ran! I haven’t gone faster than a walk in ages. I didn’t run straight through or anything, but I did push myself.
Without going into detail, V’s working his way out of the trouble he got himself into. It’s hard though. He’s still a 12 year old. He still grumbles about work. He still tries to talk to everyone at school. And, when you are in *big* trouble, all of the little stuff is more noticeable. My struggle is knowing how hard to be on him for the little stuff.
D is back to work… He returned to his old job. He is such a hard worker, but couldn’t get any interviews when he was looking elsewhere.
And my little D is doing well. He was on honor roll last quarter and has a nice new girlfriend. He is learning quickly about how expensive things are.. and he, too, has been looking for a job, but has also had no luck.
My little beanie is doing well. She is a little behind in school. She has always been a little behind academically. We are asking, once again, for the school to test her for any learning disabilities. She wasn’t behind enough to warrant testing in the past. And that’s rough. Do we really need to wait for our kids to fail before we find out if we can help them? Anyhow, she has started Kumon, too. She isn’t a big fan, but, as always, she does her best.
B is working. All.the.time! Thankfully, there’s not travel for a couple weekends.
Me? Well, I don’t know. I think I am back to “normal” (whatever that means). I am still pretty high stress and the littlest thing can cause a panic attack. But, there aren’t daily tears. And I am able to get what needs to be done done. I have also gotten out and walked quite a bit lately. I still haven’t made a return to the gym. And I need to. I know that working out will help, but it also takes time & effort & energy. And, those have been in short supply lately.
Most of our kiddos are on a modified-year-round school calendar. It’s really nice.. basically, it means that Summer is a little shorter, but Fall & Spring breaks are longer. I love it because it’s so stinking hot here that Summer is long enough even at six weeks. And, it gives us time to travel if we would like during the breaks. This year, however, we will be home for the break. D is still in class most of the time, he does have a couple days off, and B is working a lot, as am I. So, we will try to sneak in fun. Yesterday fun = an afternoon movie & using our Pogo Passes for free Glow Golf. Today, we are heading back to the movies.
I feel bad because my kiddos are stuck helping me when they are home. But, I sort of don’t… Caring for others is so good for them! They get to have a little one who thinks they are the coolest kid ever. And they get to learn a little patience… putting shoes on a three year old is harder than they think! And, probably my favorite thing, it forces them to unplug and play! V & B love making forts & the littles love playing in forts. They create games and scenarios that the littles don’t even start to understand, but everyone is having fun and laughing.
It’s raining a ton here. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t cause any serious flooding. The park by our house is already about halfway full.
Or in this case, blog.
Things are really calm in our house right now. There’s no big crisis. Mental health services are in place & other services are coming into place as planned. Classes are going ok–more than ok for our Davey! And my weekend away was just what I needed to be recharged and ready for another busy week. B gets next weekend off, and he is being called more and more for engineering jobs—signs that he’s rocking the jobs he’s doing.
But, Brian and I are still grieving the loss of several friendships and the changing of others. I think it’s totally normal & appropriate, but, just like with other loss, there’s no handbook. We were discussing my blog posts and my FB post… He was a little concerned that the wrong people would take it personally. But, it was *all* personal! It was my feelings and emotions. It was days and days of tears being poured out into words. And I can’t say that I am sorry. I have loads of friends who haven’t said a word about what’s going on with my boys… I know tons of people who have seen us hurting. And, there have been several who have really been there. There are women I can text and know that they will understand. And I am so grateful for that! Those friendships will last a lifetime.
But, there are those who have just taken a step back. Some because of fear, some because they don’t know what to say, some because they are just wrapped up in their own stuff. And that is ok. There’s no need for guilt for that… I totally get not knowing the right thing to do or say.. I understand that this stuff can be scary. (I don’t know what do to or say and it often scares the crap out of me!!) But, I guess my feelings are a good reminder. A reminder for me, especially! A reminder that people have so many burdens. A reminder that being a friend means just letting people know you are there. A reminder that I have friends who want to be there, but I just haven’t opened up to the right people at the right time. A reminder that there are so many, many struggles! A reminder that sometimes other people really, really need you–even if they don’t say.
The song, “But for the grace of God go I” is still a refrain that is sticking. The song is a love story, but, to me, it’s a reminder that despite the bad days, there are so many good ones! A reminder that I have my kiddos to hug and hold. A reminder that there is progress, if not perfection. A reminder that it could be so, so much worse.
I hope that this finds you at peace. I hope it reminds you that you are loved. I hope it reminds you that I am here if you need someone. I hope that it may bring you hope if hope is what you need.
Here, I am feeling some hope… Hope that was missing for some time. And I am feeling loved. And I am working on feeling at peace.
Warning, this post may very well read like a commercial for Pogo Pass. But, in the middle I hope you like seeing my kiddos & I during our adventures in Tucson this weekend.
With B traveling so much, it’s been me and the kids solo for way too much time! And I think we may all be a little annoyed with each other. I also am a little tired of being the taxi driver for all teenage events–there are an awful lot of them these days & they always go past my bedtime! I also am more than a little of the crazy trouble my boys have found. And I, obviously, am done with friend drama. So, I decided, very last minute, that if Brian was going to be gone, we should be, too!
We found an awesome deal on a hotel in Tucson, and with Ebates, we are getting 7% back, too! And we have our awesome Pogo Passes, so we managed quite the adventure fairly affordably. I am afraid we still spent faster than B could earn, but not by too much.
Friday we drove down and enjoyed a quick night swim and a game of Uno. The kids were willing to put away all electronics for the night, and I don’t think they even missed them too much.
The next day we were up early to head to Oracle, AZ. Growing up in Iowa, I feel like I know *nothing* about Arizona–even though I have lived here longer than anywhere else. It was fun exploring our backyard. We went to Oracle State Park to hike in the morning. We enjoyed spotting all sorts of cacti & bugs. We also saw a couple rabbits & a few lizards.
Then we went in search of food. We managed to find the 1 restaurant in all of the United States that is closed on Saturdays. And then we found another that was open, but I think I missed the boat on this one. My food was amazing, but it was a little too fancy for the kids.
After lunch we headed to Arizona Zipline Adventures.
(Here is where I will insert the commercial for Pogo Pass! Nana & Papa have given our family these passes the last few years for Christmas and we love them! They say that they are usually $100, but I have always seen them for around $40. And they do fundraisers for schools and a referral program.. if you use my link I get $5 credit for next year. The Pogo Pass is sort of like having a membership for a bunch of places.. We easily get way more than is paid by using the passes to go to Tempe Paintball (one free trip a month!). And every summer we go to Sunsplash with our passes (that day alone is almost the full price of the Pogo Pass), plus it gets us into a couple Diamondbacks games, the Zoo, the IDEA Museum.. And, in Tucson, our passes gave us a discount on a zipline pass, free laser tag, & entry to the International Wildlife Museum! I totally think these are a smoking deal!)
At Arizona Zipline Adventures, the boys did a 2 hour zipline tour. It was so cool! Bean firmly passed on this one so I opted to stay grounded with her, but given the chance, I would totally do the zipline in the future! The guides were friendly and helpful. The scenery was beautiful. And the boys all agreed that it was a lot of fun. With our passes, we got a $25 discount for each person.
On the way back to our hotel we stopped at Eegee’s… Eegee’s is a Tucson institution. This was my first time going, but it’s one of those things I have heard everyone rave about. And, I am fairly certain that I could get lynched for saying this at U of A, but we all just thought it was ok.
I crashed early Saturday night because the sun and the wildlife had done me in.. My allergies were a mess and despite reapplying sunscreen 3 times, I was pink.
Sunday we got up and met Bean’s bio-mom for breakfast. She lives in Tucson and always comes up to see Bean, but we are never in that direction. It was so nice to get to see her! She is always so loving and gracious to all of us.
After lunch we headed to Golf N’ Stuff… The boys played laser tag, the girls played mini golf. All of those were paid for with our passes! Then the boys opted for go karts and we played at the arcade before we headed out to the International Wildlife Museum.
I truly had no idea what to expect at the Museum… I knew it was animals, so I was sort of envisioning some sort of zoo. Well, it’s pretty much the complete opposite of a zoo! All of the animals, save a couple insects, are dead and stuffed. But, once we got over the shock, it was really stinking cool. It really gave an interesting perspective… so often we see animals from afar, this gave us a chance to be right next to them!
We ended up heading back to Phoenix after that…
It was a bit of a whirlwind and totally last minute, but I think it was also a raging success. All of the kids said “Thank you” more than a couple times and there were lots of hugs and smiles and cuddles. And, it was a 100% drama free weekend!!
Happy to be home and to have been here to collect B from the airport. I am looking forward to having him home a whole 11 days before he’s off on his next adventure.
Let me know if you have questions about the Pogo Pass, or any of our adventures!
So, I am having a really hard time letting go of the friend drama… I have a million arguments in my mind about why we are worthy, and why my kids shouldn’t be judged like that and why I don’t deserve that judgement. But, honestly, we all judge. I am among the worst. And I expect to be judged. I warn my kids that they are always going to be judged by their skin color and their wardrobe and their punctuation. I even was telling them about judging people for their cringe-worthy e-mail names on resumes the other day. I don’t think it was the judgement that has been weighing so heavy on my heart. I *get* that. I truly do.
I think the real problem that is breaking my heart is where the judgement is coming from… People who I thought were my friends. I am fairly guarded when talking about our difficulties in parenting (back to that whole knowing that I am being judged thing!). So, if I have told you about what we have faced, it was told because I trusted you. We rarely discuss our choice of consequences outside of these walls. One, because we don’t want to shame our kids and two, because why? So, if you assume you know how we handle things, you should probably stop that. If you’re curious about how we are doing and what sort of progress or problems we are facing, asking would be a good step.
I know that what we have faced as parents is not typical. But, I can assure you that we need what everyone needs.. a shoulder to cry on, someone to share a bottle of wine with, hearing every once in awhile that our efforts are seen.
If you can’t do that, that’s ok. The very least you can do, as a human, is be kind. Don’t talk behind our backs. Don’t make judgments about things you know nothing about. And, if you do, keep those to yourself.
I am still struggling, but it’s been helpful and healthy for me to really put my finger on why this whole thing has had me in tears for weeks. I just thought that we were friends.
When I was younger, my mom was going through some of the same struggles I am now. Literally. She had a teenager who made some of the same or similar choices to my son. There was lying and hiding and even a little drug use. I remember thinking of what I would do that would fix everything. I remember offering to have him live with me.
But, now I know.. when you are facing it, it’s not easy. It’s not black and white. Never for a second did I doubt my mom’s love for my brothers. And I hope that nobody doubts mine.
Fast forward a few years, when we first got our little Bean, there was a chance to meet her bio-grandma… The only things I knew about her mom were that her mom was a meth addict and that Bean had a different dad than the other kids, but her mom was still married to the dad of the other kids. And I was clinging to the fact that her mom was a user… When I met her grandma, I expected to see the mom of an addict. And I was wrong. I was so incredibly wrong. I met a grandma who could have been my mom or my mother-in-law (they all share the same first name!). She loved her daughter and adored her grandkids. She wanted nothing but the best for them all. And she was making the best choices that she could.
I know that being a foster parent meant automatic judgement. And I am learning that being the parent of a teen who makes stupid choices equals automatic judgement.
What is hard for me, is that I am learning that even the people who I thought knew us, are judging us harshly. And it has really been hurting me. Especially since they have no clue what goes on in our house. They don’t know what consequences our kids have faced. And they haven’t been there with the crisis team. They haven’t been there in the family hugs when we are all hurting so badly.
And I think it’s easier to assume that we must be doing something wrong. I think that if they admit that there is a chance that we aren’t culpable, that they can tell themselves their child will never do anything like that. I think if they can lay blame on something, they can tell themselves that it will never be them. I think that assuming that we aren’t doing our jobs makes it easier to sleep at night. Maybe unconsciously even. I even blame myself at times, surely I have failed at motherhood to have to deal with what we’ve dealt with… And I am sure that there are things that I could have or should have done differently. But, I am also sure that I have done my best. Our family has sought and found resources for mental and behavioral health. We have found a team to support and help our kiddos. And we are just beginning to see progress!
Way back when I was teaching PS-MAPP, I would tell my future foster families that it is so easy to judge the bio-parents. And it is. And it can be easy to hate them. But, if we were judged on our worst day everyday, how would that look? As a teenager, I worked and volunteered, I was a better-than-average student, and I was super involved in my church.. But, I lied to my parents, I drank occasionally, I did all sorts of stupid stuff. And I think that most of us did. Thankfully, we don’t have to wear those bad choices on a shirt every day.
What’s my point? Heck if I know!! I just know that I am hurting. And I know that I don’t deserve that.
It has been really, really ugly around here. Thankfully, they take turns, but it feels like one kid is having a complete behavioral meltdown. And, this one has been a doozy!!
And, as a parent, I look inward. I second-guess everything. I ask what I’ve done wrong.. and what I can do better and why am I failing?
But, the truth is… we are doing our best. And this isn’t our fault. Some of it is just kids being kids, some of it is age appropriate (not ok, but “normal”), some of it is because the world is changing *really* fast and teens (and their parents) are still trying to catch up with technology and new social norms.
And, with our kids, that’s not all. Our kids have their genetic makeup–one that we don’t really know. And they have been through trauma. Even in the very best of all foster/adoptive situations, there is trauma. And, foster care, leaves an imprint.. Here are some stagering statistics:
I don’t like to focus on this much… And it’s easy for people to dismiss with our kiddos–our kids came to us relatively young and they have a stable home and family. But, it’s there. Don’t believe me? Want to learn more?
And, honestly, I would love to say that I spent hours combing through info to find this, but I didn’t. This was a five minute search to see what I could find.
So, before you judge, just realize that some things are not because of poor parenting.
Have you ever felt miserable and googled your symptoms? Ever done a Web MD search? Did you find out that you probably have cancer and the type of cancer that you have is likely fatal?
It’s the same for criminal stuff. If you love someone who is facing charges, don’t Google. You just don’t want to know. Navigating the courts is scary, but, in this case, I think that it’s scarier knowing the possible outcoms.
In other news, parenting teenagers continues to be challenging. It is unlike anything that I ever imagined. I thought that navigating the foster care world would be the hardest thing we ever had to do as parents. And, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know. I would have missed out on the amazing days. The days with smiles and hugs and laughs. The pride of seeing them succeed. I wouldn’t wish our recent experiences on my worst enemy & I wouldn’t trade my kids for all of the money in the world.