I'm sat writing this feeling exhausted. It's not the same emotional exhaustion I've felt over the past 17 months, however. This is physical exhaustion - the kind that helps you fall into a deep sleep at the end of the day, the kind that makes you feel you are filling your days with something worthwhile, the kind that comes from looking after two children.
'Little Miss' joined our lives nearly three weeks ago and those past three weeks have been a whirlwind. It's a time of huge adjustment as a family and as individuals. Sam is really enjoying having our little foster visitor to stay and we are both amazed at how well he is adjusting to things. (Most of the time) he enjoys showing her how to play. He enjoys helping to get her up in the mornings and he enjoys helping to give her her tea. He also misses having me all to himself and we are adjusting to learning to make time for 'mummy and Sam' time every day. Today we played charades at his choice but the game descended into chaos when his inner terrible toddler took over and he did not want Little Miss to watch him acting. On Saturday we baked cakes and yesterday we played the piano together. I am learning that his focused time only needs to be 10 minutes or so per day to himself but I have no control over what he does with that time. When his inner terrible toddler takes over he refuses to listen, he rolls about on the floor being generally silly and he shouts at me. I miss being able to devote full days to him and him only. It is bittersweet this adjustment thing.
We are learning to juggle meetings with social workers, hospital appointments, school runs, leading parenting courses, cooking tea, spending time with friends and sleeping but we feel that we are able to function as a family - something we have looked forward to for a long time.
There are new questions every day; people seem surprised - "I didn't realise you had 2 children", "will you adopt her?", "how do you take one somebody else's child?". It's the adoption question I struggle with the most. Do I seem callous if I explain that that is not the reason we went into foster care? Does it come from a lack of understanding on people's parts? And then I ran into someone I haven't seen for a while at school today. She has been in Australia for 3 months. She greeted me with a hug - delighted to see our dream of foster caring becoming a reality. She asked how I was finding things and without asking any questions about the future told me "of course, you'll be heartbroken when she goes but how amazing that you can DO THIS for her". How refreshing to have someone acknowledge her moving on and to also acknowledge the separation we will have to endure when she goes.
Little Miss has come into our lives with a bang and and I'm certain that she will leave with the same level of noise but while she is here we can be certain that we are the right family for her RIGHT NOW. That while she is with us we can sow into her life and play a part in her future, supporting her early on to, one day, become the woman she deserves to be. And to think that, as a family, we played a part in that is pretty amazing.
Maybe one day we'll have another child of our own - another child to play with foster children and to support them in their own adjustment and journey.
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