I’ve had this blog post rolling around in my head for weeks now. No pictures. No famous quote. Just words.
For the last few years, blogging has been a wonderful way for me to share stories of my life and my family. It’s a form of social media which allows me to sit, mostly protected, in front of a computer screen sharing whatever information I choose to share. I can allow my readers to view the life we live from whatever angle I choo0se. For the most part, I tend to be a private person and I suppose that is one of the reasons I have enjoyed blogging. I can share as much or as little of my world as I choose and for the most part, I’ve chosen to share the best of the life I live.
It’s hard for me to find that middle ground. It’s out of fear that I don’t share some of the harder parts of life. After all, much of my growing up years were spent listening to gossip, hearing hurtful said about me, my family and others. Lots of blame and finger pointing my direction have caused me to shield myself and my family to avoid going thru any of that again.
Finding that middle ground has been difficult to say the least. How much should I share? How much of myself can I put out there? Yet in those protective moments, I realize that that sometimes it’s important to share. My experiences in life have shaped who I am. Learning to accept who I am is the real challenge for me. I am and will always be a work in progress, but maybe it’s time to begin sharing some of my challenges in life. Maybe it’s time for me to share some of my big feelings. Maybe it’s time to allow myself to be a little more vulnerable so I can grow, change and learn to better adapt.
So that’s what I am going to try to do with this post. I’m going to try to share some big feelings about my move to Texas.
Those who have consistently read my blog posts are very familiar with all the changes that have occurred in the World of Weeks over the past year. Our move to Texas was certainly a mix of excitement and sadness.
Since moving, I’ve tried to get back into blogging, but I’ve had some pretty big feelings about this move and our life in Texas. Feelings that are messy and not to share. Feeling, that really won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but like I said, I don’t like to put myself out there for display. At the same time, I have felt this need to try and put my thoughts and feelings down as a diary entry of sorts. To put my feelings in a blog entry allows me to one day go back and see where I was compared to where I will be. A chance to better understand how these experiences shaped me and lead me to the future me. Hopefully lead me to the better me.
This story begins 9 months ago when we left Illinois. Our move made sense logically. Hubby was offered a wonderful opportunity and to not accept the opportunity that basically fell in his lap just felt wrong. What also felt wrong though, was leaving behind the two little boys who had become part of our family. Never in my life have I felt such a huge mix of emotions and I thought after all these months, those emotions wouldn’t be quite as big as they are. Yes, they are a bit less painful, but still there none-the-less.
I can still so vividly remember the day I picked the boys up from the DCFS office. Hubby was out-of-town on business and we really weren’t expecting a call so soon. Yet our licensing worker felt this was the perfect fit for our family, so she called. I frantically, but unsuccessfully tried to reach hubby and was soon on my way to Wal-Mart to quickly buy a car seat and then heading to pick up the two little boys that were going to stay with us for awhile. I had no idea how long we would foster these two little guys, but I was committed to them before I had even met them. I very quickly discovered that this commitment would be far from easy. My first indication should have been the fact that the then 3-yr-old was so willing to take my hand and get into my car. Forget the fact that he had met me a few minutes earlier and was now heading off with a complete stranger. Very happily I might add.
For the next few months, FS1 had complete melt-downs that included hitting walls, hitting me, crying, screaming, spitting, and kicking. They were complete “out of his mind” episodes and under the circumstances, it was all understandable. Yet, in the heat of the moment I would question whether or not I was cut out to do this. This little boy pushed hard to keep us at arms length and at the same time he desired to feel the love and safety of a family. It was something he had not yet experienced in his young life. I was far from perfect and wish I would have handled things differently many times, but slowly the meltdowns began to subside and he began to change. We all did. The change happened slowly, but it happened none-the-less.
FS2 was a miserable 8-month-old baby when he came to our home and why shouldn’t he have been. He was picked up by a complete stranger, put in a car seat where he proceeded to cry from the time we pulled out of the parking lot until we reached, what would become, his new home 40 minutes later. He had been removed from his parents care just a few days earlier. He and his brother stayed with a woman who was introduced to me as his “godmother” and he had an ear infection on top of that. He didn’t smile and showed no personality. Except for a few minutes here and there, he refused to sleep for the first 48 hours. He was scared and trusted no one, but eventually, Lili was able to get him to smile and before long, he began to trust us. As he began to trust us more, he also began to eat and sleep like a champ. He became a happy baby with tons of personality. It took time, but at such a young age, he hadn’t gone thru as much as his brother. As such, his transformation didn’t take him as long.
Lili and Naomi stepped up to the plate immediately upon the boy’s arrival. Both of them showed FS1 around the house and engaged him in activity.
Before long, Naomi and FS1 were like brother and sister in everyway. They played well together and they fought well together :-) FS1 would play Barbie’s with Naomi and she was happy to play his games with him. Together, they challenged hubby and me, but they also made us laugh and smile quite often.
Lili was very serious about her big sister role. She loved helping with FS2 and when he got older and began to walk, she was typically the first one in his room to get him out of bed after his naps. A few times I walked in to find her changing his diaper or downstairs reading a book to him. She absolutely loved being his caregiver.
Lili also enjoyed helping FS1 with school work. He didn’t bring homework home, but he did struggle with school a bit and she loved playing teacher. On a regular basis she would read him books, do math with him, help him learn his colors or shapes. Most of the time, she was in her happy place when she was with them.
Challenges are bound to occur when you go from 2 children to 4 children in the house, but we worked thru them as a family and we were a family. Not that any of this was an easy adjustment, because it wasn’t. Yet somehow, we all began to accept each other and became a family.
The boys had been with us for 14 months when hubby got the job offer. It was a mix of excitement and despair. Knowing that two members of our family would not be moving to Texas with us was so very hard and my only real solace was knowing I could stay in contact with them thru their new foster family. Although I could pretend to be mostly okay with what was happening, I really had very little peace about it. It was for that reason I seriously considered staying in Illinois with the girls and the boys until we knew better what would happen with their case. Only after their case worker convinced me that the case was likely going to continue for quite some time did I semi let go of the idea of staying behind. No one knew for sure what the outcome would be and ultimately I knew I couldn’t keep the girls away from their daddy indefinitely. This was just a great opportunity that had terrible timing.
Saying good-bye to the boys was HORRIBLE!!!! I put the boys in their car seats and sat in the back of the Suburban sobbing as I told the boys good-bye. FS1 was also sobbing as he realized this really was good-bye. FS2, oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t coming back, just smiled at me and said, “bye, bye”. I was beside myself with grief and told hubby he had to take them to their new foster home. It was just too overwhelming for me and I wasn’t sure I could actually leave them there.
For the next several days, I cried. I felt numb as I moved about my day preparing for our move. Looking back, the busyness of the move and the girls, were what got me thru.
I fought the urge to drive to the boy’s new foster home to see them. Heck, I fought the urge to drive to the new foster home and take them back. I fought the urge to tell hubby this was all a mistake and we had to stay. I was a mom grieving the loss of her boys and it was the first time I truly felt sorry for the boys mother. I understood just what it must have been like for her to say good-bye.
The next several months weren’t much better for me and four people living in an RV didn’t provide any real privacy. The shower was the one place I could get away to express the grief I felt. The tears fell and I would try to wash away the pain and the feelings that I had made a huge mistake. When I had composed myself, I would get out, dry off, get dressed and move on with my day. The girls were dealing with their own grief and seeing mommy cry would only cause them to become more upset. Naomi was struggling. She would frequently go to bed and cry because she missed the boys so much, especially FS1. The last thing I wanted to do was upset her even more and seeing me so full of sadness would most certainly add to her pain.
I also didn’t want to upset hubby. This move was in support of his career and I didn’t want my sadness to add any stress to his life. Moving to a new state, to pursue a new job was hard enough. No need to add a sobbing wife to that mix.
I also knew Lili was sad and missed the boys at well, but she seemed to have this way of accepting that we were doing what we felt was best for the family. She seemed to cling to the fact that the most important thing was that we were together.
Over the next 7 months we moved to a larger RV and then into our new home. I tried to keep myself and the girls busy with school and activities and a trip out west. We celebrated Christmas, the girl’s birthdays, got together with family and tried to make new friends. After all, an active mind and body doesn’t have as much time to focus on loss. Right?!
July arrived and we headed back to Illinois for a short visit. I reached out to the boy’s foster mom and asked if we could visit them. She graciously offered to meet us at a local McDonald’s for a playdate and visit. I really tried to keep it together, but as soon as I saw them walk thru the door, the tears began to flow. I was so happy to see them again, although FS1 was a little unsure at first and FS2 didn’t really remember us.
My happiness quickly turned to sadness, anger and regret when their foster mom announced that the judge had ordered that the process to terminate their parents right begin. My heart sank. These two little boys, who I loved and missed dearly, were going to lose their bio family and the family who had only had them for 8 months would eventually become their forever family. We had them for 15 months and I felt as if I had lost them all over again. On top of that, I was jealous and angry. I was the one who picked them up at the DCFS office. I was the one who fought the battle and went thru the really hard stuff. I was the one who had them the longest. These were my boys and I was now being told that there was an end in sight and that end had come much sooner than I was lead to believe. So many big feelings jolted my mind, heart and body with that information and maybe I should have faked happiness for the news that very obviously made this foster mom happy, but I was far from happy and just couldn’t fake it.
Feeling are tricky and messy. Big feelings are even worse and I had big feelings and sometimes reality just sucks. The reality of it all is that the person I was most angry with was me. I could have asked hubby not to accept he new job so we could stay in Illinois. I could have chosen to stay in Illinois and continue fostering the boys. What I was going thru was a result of the decisions I had made or chose not to make and in that moment I regretted those decisions.
As I shared the information with hubby, Lili heard the news and then asked if we could adopt the boys. She never dreamed that wouldn’t be an option and I had to explain to her that current foster families are given the option first. Even though we had raised them for 15 months, we no longer had that option. I could see the disappointment and heartache in her face, but she pulled herself together and enjoyed her time with the boys over those few hours we were with them. We all did.
The following two weeks after that visit, I had three additional children occupying my time. I loved having them here, while at the same time it was a reminder of how much chaos, laughter and life was missing because the boys weren’t with us. I reminded myself that there are foster parents who have said good-bye to kids many times and I wondered how they could continue down that path. I realized that just like me, they grieved. Unlike me though, they brought other children into their home and while those children didn’t replace the ones no longer with them, they gave foster parents new focus. My focus was on Lili and Naomi, but I seemed incapable of shutting off that part of me that focused on our loss.
It was also a few weeks after our visit with the boys that Lili’s emotions began to surface and one night she had a complete break down. She sobbed and sobbed, writhing in emotional pain. Hubby was with her as she tearfully told him about how much she missed the boys. She shared about how much she loved being their big sister. She told him how much she desired to see them grow up and how she secretly hoped that one day we would adopt them and they would be her brothers forever. She told him that the time they were with us was the happiest time of her life. She had held in all her feelings and like a volcano, they exploded, spewing tears of anger, sadness and frustration.
As hubby told me what had transpired, tears began welling up. What had we done? How could we bring these two precious little boys into our lives only to move away from them? How could we put our girls thru this pain? How could I put myself thru this pain? Yes, we made our decisions for the right reasons, but even the right reasons are wrong sometimes.
So here we are, nine months later. A lot has happened over the last 9 months and our lives are moving forward slowly, but the boys have left a hole in my life. It’s the same for Lili and Naomi. For hubby, things are a bit different. He stays occupied with work and our life outside work. Our move has impacted him, but very differently from the way it’s impacted the girls and me. We’re trying to work thru it all, but it has been really hard at times. The fact is, we are not on the same page and getting back there has had it’s own set of challenges. Maneuvering thru those challenges takes time and lots of hard work.
I wish I could say I love living in Texas, but honesty is the best policy. I appreciate the opportunities provided to us here. Living in the city provides more choices and as a homeschool family it’s been a real treat. We’ve been able to establish really good doctors and for the first time have found a good therapist to help Lili with her anxiety. Yet I can’t say I love living here. It doesn’t feel like home to me. I still don’t feel settled.
Would we move back to Illinois? Yes, if it was for the boys, but that chapter in our lives has ended and new chapters are being written. Moving back is highly unlikely.
Will we become foster parents here in Texas? Possibly. It’s something we’ve discussed and while I would jump on that ride again, hubby just isn’t sure he wants to go down that road.
Will we stay in Texas? For now. There is always potential that life may take us elsewhere, but we need to stay here and give hubby’s career a chance to grow. It’s competitive here, but there is more potential for him here than there was for him in Central IL and he needs a chance to see where his career might take him. It is of benefit to our family to stay here right now.
Hubby is feeling much more settled in his new job. The girls and I have begun to settle into a new routine and are part of a homeschool group. We’re busy with weekly field trips and a monthly co-op. Naomi takes an acting and drama class each week. Lili is in a bi-weekly science class and begins a monthly art workshop next month. I continue to look for classes and activities to help the girls stay busy and allow them more opportunities to make new friends, which also helps keep me busy. Most of all, I am looking forward to our cruise in February and the opportunity to get away for a few days. A chance to visit a couple new places and spend time enjoying the sun and relaxation. It’s especially exciting that we’ll have friends and maybe family joining us on the cruise this year.
The big feelings come and go now. I am trying to learn from my experiences and to accept the choices I have made as I navigate my way thru this life. Who knows where life full of big emotions it will take me?!! Only time will tell.