This summer has been so BUSY! So many very good things have contributed to that busyness. We traveled to see Josh's family, spent a week at camp together as a family of four, and traveled to see my mom's side of the family. We had visits from my mom and sister and a very small but very sweet celebration of the day we met Baby S one year ago.
There's so much beauty in traveling for our family. We are thankful that Birth Parent allows Baby S to go with us and works with us to make up visits he misses when we are gone. When we travel, we have the amazing opportunity to feel like a normal family. No visits. No texts needing immediate response. No (or, at least, few) calls about foster care. No appointments. Sometimes, we don't even have access to email! It's wonderful. I feel like I so often get thrown off track because so much of foster care is putting my day on hold to help get things back under control, because the drama pops up out of nowhere and suddenly there's some information or appointment urgently needed from me. It's like my train of thought is constantly derailed, and it leaves me feeling drained and fighting stress levels. So being "off the grid" for much of the month was amazing!
Another highlight of traveling is that people don't even know we're a foster family. They can't tell that Baby S isn't a bio family member, so they don't even think to ask. There's no being brought into conversations about his birth parent, his history, or any of the (approximately) thousand-and-one dramas going on at any given time. People just treat us like family. They treat Big Brother A like a normal big brother, and ask him normal big brother questions. They treat Baby S like a normal baby-turning-toddler and ooh and aah over his cute little tricks without feeling sorry for him or making assumptions about his future. We're allowed to express joy and love and happiness without questions about how we're going to handle the pain of losing our child if he leaves us some day.
We love positive interactions about foster care. We absolutely love having honest conversations about the ups and downs of life as a foster family. We hope it encourages someone, someday, to take a next step they've been considering. But it's also lovely, sometimes, to not feel like a foster family at all.
We just get to be family. A crazy, busy, joy-filled, always-running-after-the-toddler family, enjoying the normalcy of being exhausted simply because parenting is good and hard and tiring!
Some of my favorite moments are when my two little boys are playing together, full of giggles and adventure (and even a little bit of mischief!), just being brothers.
So that was awesome. The unfortunate result is that all of the normal requirements and drama and chores and meetings had to fit into the windows we were home. Make-up visits had to be scheduled, and the already-flaky driving service for Baby S gets extra-super-flaky when it's not a normally scheduled time.
It's hard to feel overwhelmed right after a vacation - to already have that fleeting thought of "if I could just get a break!" and realize that no length of break will ever solve things. It's having to realize that this is life, and buckle down and pray for the energy every day to have a positive attitude even when a look at the day's agenda is daunting, and things keep popping up to make the day crazier, as they often do.
During this last month, there's also been some pretty emotionally draining back and forth involving Baby S's case. He was supposed to be completely through his transition back to Birth Parent by the end of September. This was a hard truth, but something we were ready for, since we've known it's coming for months. Then there was a set-back, and we were told he wouldn't be taking any steps forward toward more hours at Parent's house until the end of September. So we absorbed that information, and changed our thoughts and plans. And then this week, we've been told suddenly that his overnights will possibly be starting in a week! Although nothing is changing until the end of September, everything is changing before the end of August, and with only a week's notice. It's very frustrating and VERY confusing! The inability to ready our hearts and calendars for this major transition is very tiring and weighs heavily on us.
So we haven't reached out to sweet friends and neighbors very much this summer. We haven't done a lot of play dates or cookouts. We've been out of town a lot, and when we were home, we had so much make-up to do that we've felt almost nonstop busy. And although I want to get into a rhythm of playdates and outings with friends and all the fun, sweet things stay-at-home moms sometimes do, I don't think this will realistically be my reality at this stage in our journey. As much as I want to do dinners with other families and adventures with friends in the evenings, this, too, has to sometimes take a backseat - for now. Baby S comes back from day-long visits exhausted and needs time to catch up on sleep when he's home. Evening family time is especially precious since one of Baby S's long visit days is also Josh's day off.
Family time isn't selfish, it's a necessity, and for us there's a ticking clock to each day and week together as a family of four. We put stability and togetherness on a high pedestal in our home, because we long to fill Baby S up with all the love he can hold before he goes back to Birth Parent, both for his sake and for ours. (That doesn't mean we don't serve, by the way. We also place a high priority on serving others and especially serving through Northridge. It means that, when possible, we find ways to serve together.)
Thanks for the prayers. Thanks for checking in on us, and loving on us, and giving the boys high fives and hellos when you see them!