Have you ever felt like your life is in a spiral and you are in the middle of it falling? That is how I have been feeling this last month. Just when Jackson got better, a new round of sickness hit our house. There was a roller coaster of emotions with Daniel finding a potential new home. There was a broken truck, broken washer, and an ER visit, all in one week. One thing after another has left me feeling like I am falling and can’t stop myself.
The flu hit our house shortly after Thanksgiving. It started with Sylvia, hit me, moved to Kevin, and has housed itself in Jackson on and off for a couple of weeks. I feel like our house should be wrapped in plastic and anyone brave enough to enter should be in an Ebola protection outfit. I’ve gone through 2 big bottles of Lysol, countless bleach wipes and have been keeping our back door open despite the 30 degree temps so fresh air can come in. I think (knock on wood) that we may be on the tail end of it. Having said that, we are getting ready to get on a plane to Florida so I am sure there are some germs just waiting for us there. That’s my pessimistic prediction.
Despite the illnesses, the past month has been emotionally difficult for me. As most of you know Kevin and I decided back in September that Daniel wasn’t going to be able to live with us permanently. We have to protect Jackson from Daniel hurting him and we just don’t feel we can do that with him in our home. For me, there is a mother’s feeling that Daniel is just not a good fit for us. None of it is his fault. He had a crappy start at life. That crappiness has created so many diagnosis in a little 8 year old boy that I have lost track of all of them. AD/HD, anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, attachment disorder, PTSD are just some of them. He’s a difficult kid to live with. Even harder when you already have a child with special needs that requires a lot of attention. I wish I could have gotten Daniel as a baby. Maybe we could have prevented some of these things from happening to him. But we didn’t and I don’t have the resources or personal ability to change them. I wish I did. When we met Daniel and Sylvia I naively thought all he needed was a loving mom. I thought that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Now, I can’t even call myself a loving mom. I’m more of a broken down, frustrated, snappy, impatient mom. I’m not good for him at this point. I have lost my ability to really be there for him in a supportive way. It’s hard to admit. And I know some of you who are my close friends and family are thinking that maybe I am being hard on myself but I know the truth. I’ve spent the last month doing a lot of soul searching and really taking a look at myself. I don’t like what I’ve become. I am patient and loving with Sylvia and Jackson, I am a good mom to them. But with Daniel I have shut down for some reason. I am carrying a lot of guilt and I am grieving for the relationship I thought I would have with Daniel. In my weakest moment a couple of weeks ago I laid on my living room floor and cried for 3 hours. That was the day I picked up the phone and called an organization that works with foster parents so I could talk to someone. I’m glad I did. I found a couple of other foster moms who have went through similar situations. What I learned from these women is that I am not alone. That there have been other families who have had to let a child go because of safety reasons. That we are doing what is best for our family and that I’m not awful for saying Daniel needs to leave. After talking with them, taking a hard look at myself and trying to make sense of this hideous situation, I have started to heal a little bit. I accept that Daniel is not a good fit for us, that I have to put Jackson’s safety first. No matter our good intentions of taking Daniel in to our home, it just didn’t work out.
This morning I went to Sylvia and Daniel’s parent teacher conferences. Afterward, we had about ½ hour before school started. Sylvia went to her classroom to help her teacher and I took Daniel downstairs and let him have a second breakfast. We sat at the table just talking and hanging out. It was the first time in a couple of months that I felt a glimmer of hope that even though he was leaving our home, we could still have a relationship and that he would still be a son to me in our own unconventional way.
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving the social worker let us know that she found a permanent placement for Daniel. The social worker came to our home and let Daniel know he wouldn’t be staying with us permanently. He was a little sad and asked if he could stay. When the social worker explained to him that he couldn’t stay he took it fairly well. Mostly he just wanted to go play. The next day Daniel met the new family. They loved each other right away. Then a couple of days before his first overnight visit with them they changed their minds. It was devastating. The social worker explained to Daniel that she decided that that wasn’t the right family for him, essentially taking the blame for it. She’s awesome! Unfortunately telling Daniel he wouldn’t be staying with us has caused some more unpleasant behavior. We decided that we just need a break. I am at my wit’s end and I just need some time with Kevin, Jackson and Sylvia to relax. Our house is overstressed. The social worker found a good family who live on a big farm where Daniel will go for Christmas break. The rest of us will go to Colorado and Florida. Another reason for guilt. But in all honesty if we take Daniel with us, the stress of his behavior management may send me over the edge. I want to not have to worry about where Daniel is on a constant basis to make sure he isn’t near Jackson. Being on a 100% of the time is exhausting. It is time that my family of 4 have a relaxing, peaceful vacation. Daniel wasn’t upset that he wouldn’t be with us. He is looking forward to being on the farm. I guess that is a good part of attachment disorder. He’s not attached to us so he won’t miss us. That’s still hard for me to wrap my head around, but it is what it is. I’m learning to accept it.
We leave Saturday and will spend a couple of days in Denver visiting my family then fly to Florida for 13 glorious days. I am anxious to see my cousin’s four beautiful boys, for my father-in-law’s giant bear hugs, the arrival of Kevin’s big family for Christmas, feeling the sand on my feet, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, and the absolute peace that Jackson’s face displays when we go to the beach. His face says it all, peace and love. Isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about?
“Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.” – Reinhold Niebuhr