It's been a long day. I was kept awake last night again by nervous "are you still there?" cries from our foster child. Sam has a bad chest (he is asthmatic) and our cat has required major surgery to remove a blockage from her intestine; a plastic foot from something, apparently. Tomorrow we'll get to see what the 'plastic foot' was that cost us a small fortune out of our savings as the vet has kindly kept hold of it to show us.
Ask my husband last year and I'm pretty certain he wouldn't have opted for drawing out savings to save a cat. A cat that scratches, keeps us awake at night, eats anything in sight (including plastic feet, apparently), turns up at neighbours' houses for play and some attention and throws up all over the bathroom floor. But this was different. The kids love this cat - they adore her. Sam was absorbed in his loss after Emilie's death and somehow, in a way that I certain a human couldn't do, Kip pulled him out of his withdrawn state. His behaviour changed virtually over night. And our foster daughter loves her. Infact I don't think 'love' is a strong enough word. Kip was the first 'person' that she engaged with, the first 'person' she shared kisses with, and the first 'person' she initiated eye contact with. For weeks she followed her around the house shouting 'cat, cat' - her one and only word. So when the call came from the vet to say that surgery was the only option, there was no doubt in my husband's mind that it was what needed to be done and so we find ourselves with a big gap in our 'house fund' savings. It will be worth it, though, when 'cat cat' comes home to stop the tears!
Our foster daughter struggles with change. She struggles with goodbyes and new experiences. She struggles with life. And today she has cried all day. She has raised her arms, formed her mouth into an 'O' shape and let out the 'ooooooo, oooooo' sound that she has perfected so well interspersed with cries of 'cat cat' and 'mama', arms raised to me. All day!
I have waited to hear a baby call me mama for years. But she's not mine. We refer to me as by my name to her no matter what but she has chosen 'mama' after hearing Sam do so. And so we find ourselves in a cafe at a craft session. Sam and his friends are happily gluing sequins to material and our little lady is playing with blocks. And then, for no reason seemingly out of the blue, comes the crying. The sobbing. I try to work out what is wrong with her but she turns away from me. She just wants to cry. This is a common occurrence and happens at least once a day. There are times, more frequently now, that she seeks comfort (she always snuggles in when happy but struggles when she's crying) but generally she turns away, refuses to make eye contact and screams at anyone who dares to look at her or try to comfort her. And it breaks my heart. I have learnt the hard way, that she needs the outlet. That she needs to be able to sit and so and wollow in her on sorrow. After this has happened she is fine. The switch is flicked and she is her happy self again, chatting and interacting with me. But the looks I get!! I can't tell people 'she's not mine' and I can't explain why I'm letting her cry. A friend said to me today that I KNOW her - I know what calms her down and what doesn't but I wonder what people must think. Some even let me know - 'ah, she's tired', 'someone's not happy, are they?' and the worst are the people who try to talk to her, hence raising her stress levels ten fold!
I wish there was someone there who could say to me 'you're doing the right thing' and reassure me that the way we comfort her is ok. I see changes in her every day and she is unrecognisable from the little girl who arrived 10 weeks ago - and probably so are we! It is so rewarding to see and fills me with such a sense of pride but we have a long way to go. I don't want to see her leave or wish our time with her away but I often wonder - how amazing will it be to see her move to her final placement leaving a lot of those insecurities behind her.
And then I'll know we've done the right thing.
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