We have returned home from our Christmas vacation to Colorado and Florida. It was as peaceful and relaxing as I was hoping it would be. We managed to escape germ infestations on the plane and came and went as healthy as can be. Our flights were relatively uneventful except for some delays and the airline losing Jackson’s car seat (but hey, they bought us a new one so I can’t complain). All in all it was a fabulous vacation and for the first time ever I was sad to see the kids go back to school. I miss hanging out with my adventure buddies Sylvia and Jackson.
The day before we left the social worker came and picked Daniel up to take him to the foster family he would be spending the Christmas break with. I stood out in the front yard waving goodbye to him and crying. I cried for about an hour after he left. I felt so sad and guilty. The next morning we got on the plane and as we settled into our seats I felt like I was flying away from a pile of stress and unhappiness. I was relieved. It was so nice to spend time with my friends and family in Denver. We only had 2 days but it was such a great time for me. Being able to see all the faces of those I love and to be in Denver with a view of the Rocky Mountains where I grew up just filled me with happiness.
A beautiful thing happened when we were in Denver. My friend LaPrell and I took the kids out to dinner at my favorite restaurant in Denver, Sweet Tomatoes, or as Sylvia calls it “The Lots of Tomatoes Place”. We were just sitting there eating our dinner when a little boy and his father came over to our table. The father explained to us that his son wanted to know if he could meet Jackson. The amazing thing was that Jackson up until that point was just sitting in his wheelchair calmly eating his dinner. But when this little boy came over and said hi to Jackson he just lit up! He started laughing and wiggling around in his chair. He was obviously excited to meet a new friend. The little boy was so sweet and asked a lot of questions about Jackson and wanted his picture taken with him. It was just another reminder to me of how much love Jackson brings into our life. One of my favorite things is meeting kind strangers who simply appear out of nowhere because of Jackson’s presence. It was our first day of vacation and it set the tone for the next two weeks.
Before I knew it we were on the plane headed for Florida and Kevin’s beautiful family. The two weeks went by so fast but it was a time for me to really reflect and experience what the future holds for our family. Daniel requires so much attention and his behavior creates a lot of stress in our home. To not have that for 2 weeks was liberating. I finally got to just hang out with Jackson and Sylvia. Kevin had work to do while we were there so I would take the kids out of the house for a few hours every day on adventures. Just spending time with them seemed like a guilty pleasure. We went to the movies, leisurely walked around the toy department at Target playing with toys, went out to lunch quite a few times, somehow ended up in Cocoa Beach after playing cat and mouse with the rain clouds and explored a new town, and visited the beach. We had so much fun together and having time to build memories with them was priceless. Most importantly I got to see what our family life will be like in the near future and I have something beautiful to look forward to.
The best Christmas gift I got this year arrived on Christmas day in the form of a phone call. We had been calling Daniel every other day but had only been talking to him. On Christmas I got a chance to talk to the foster mom whose house he was staying at. Our conversation was focused on how it wasn’t going well with Daniel. His behavior was disrupting their home and causing a lot of stress. We talked for about 30 minutes and everything she told me was the same problems we have with him. The arguing, the aggression, the lack of caring for others, the narcissism. Talking with her lifted a giant weight off my shoulders that I have been carrying. For the first time I realized it wasn’t me. I wasn’t a failure in parenting Daniel. Daniel’s behaviors aren’t a result of something I am doing wrong. IT ISN’T ME!!!!!!!!! What a Christmas present! To finally have peace within me that while I may not be the best parent, I know that the problems we have with Daniel are not because of what I am doing or failing to do. This foster mom has been a foster mom for years. She has had a lot of children in her home and has seen a lot of behaviors and troubles. To hear her say that Daniel is a lot to handle and that there is just something not right with him brought me so much relief. I know that sounds weird but for months I have carried this heavy burden of guilt that I am a failure and Daniel is suffering because of it. To be released from that was the best gift anyone could ever give me. Not taking Daniel on our trip was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but now I know it was worth it. I had 2 glorious weeks of peace, happiness and relaxation. My batteries got recharged and knowing Daniel is just the way he is, not because of me, gives me the insight I need to forge ahead until a home is found for him. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Now a little about the star of the blog…..Jackson. I love that kid so dang much. I think he needed a break too. He needed to go to the beach, his happy place. He did amazing on the numerous plane rides. He loved going on adventures, he just sat back and went along for the ride. One thing I noticed now that I had some time to focus on him was how much he was moving. He just can’t sit still. He is go, go, go all the time. Never in one spot for more than 2 seconds. I was delighted to see how much he was moving. He is getting braver with walking on his knees and is taking more steps. He is also really starting to weight bear on his weak left arm. He is getting in the crawling position more and more and rocking forward. I also noticed that he is wanting to be part of what is happening. On our adventure to Cocoa Beach he was in the back seat of the truck and Sylvia was up front with me. He kept leaning forward to put his chin on the seat back so he could be “up front” with us. He just wants to be with his family. We also worked on learning colors a lot while we were in Florida. Mainly because of his CVI we are working on red and yellow. He was getting them right about 80% of the time. Everyone has always said that he was a smart kid, but it has just been a matter of learning how to teach him. I think (and hope) things are starting to click for him.
It’s been a busy and revealing holiday season. A new year is here and I feel strong and hopeful for what it may bring. Most importantly I feel like I got a little piece of me back on Christmas. As Benjamin Franklin said “A good conscience is a continual Christmas."