Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A bad day as a foster parent

One of the reasons I read other people's blogs is that it makes me feel better when I realize that I am not the only one who is not always good at this. Foster parents are not either saints or demons. We are ordinary people, trying to do something really difficult and some days we do it better than others.

Some days, like today, I have a great need to write, to confess, to vent. Today I thought maybe I would just write to the social worker, but no, I never got into that practice with her (because she is young, because I had the blog, because I had a counselor) and she will over-react. I thought I would just write to my friend. I will write to her but I thought that no, I should write it on the blog too.

If the blog is going to help me remember what this time was really like, and if it is going to help other people who are considering being a foster or adoptive parents, then it has to be honest and I need to talk about the bad days too.

Yep. It is like 7:00am and it is already a bad day.

Evan has been inconsiderate lately. He has not been mean; he is just extremely inconsiderate. Hubby says he has been doing the "alpha male thing." Hubby dates it from the moment he got his work visa, which is the first moment at which everything he needed to do for his trip was finished. He now sees himself really as a grown-up just biding his time and waiting to move.

Like all adolescents he does not understand that the adults around him really have feelings. I mean on one level they know we do, but they expect that we will behave as adults and take care of them ourselves.

So it is little things. Like how he constantly interrupts me in the middle of a sentence to tell me something important to him that has absolutely nothing to with what I was saying.

Like last night when there was some complication with the TV and I told Evan that I would watch a certain program he had recorded on the DVR with him but first I was going to take a bath while he figured it out. Then he figured it out when I was walking down the hall and yelled, "I fixed it. Come back!" "I won't be long. I really want to take my bath now." "No. Come watch it with me! Come back!" "Evan! Don't give me orders!" "I'm not giving you orders! Come back! ... Please?"

And then this morning when I woke up early because there was some sort of annoying knocking noise. I realized that it was Evan's bedroom door. He had fallen asleep with his window open again. He had not blocked off his vent and there was a cold breeze coming from it into the living room and the furnace was running almost constantly and his door, though shut, was banging from the breeze.

I behaved badly.

He behaved badly in response.

If I were to write the transcript of what we said, not a single thing would sound terrible. However, neither of us has anything to be proud of.

So what is going on? Why was I unable to resist the urge to wake his butt up at 6:00am and yell at him? Why was he unable to say or do anything that might have calmed me down? Andrew or Brian would have said they were sorry and that they would not do it in the future, which they would know would shut me up and give me nothing else to say. They might do it again the next night, but they would do the apology thing again. David would say he was sorry with a look in his eye that said, "I'm just saying this to get you to leave and you will pay. Believe me, you will pay." Evan wisely shut his window as soon as I knocked (he's not that stupid), but why did he have to stand there and tell me in his freezing cold room that he did not know what I was talking about, the window had been shut all night?

The bright side of my morning? I may have mentioned that Miss E never makes eye contact. When I picked her up at 6:45am (herein lies part of the explanation for Evan's early wake up call) she didn't even noticed that I had been crying all the way over.

What is going on is that I am exhausted. I have agreed to do too many respites. Since the beginning of October I have had a respite or a conference, or both, almost every weekend. I went home yesterday and wrote Maria's name on the calendar for Thanksgiving and saw someone's name written on each weekend. "Maria" "Jackie" "Miss E" "Maria".

I have had a stressful report for work. I've mentioned it. Not the sort of thing that should be stressful, but is.

And Evan is leaving is 26 days.

And though writing this has calmed me down considerably, writing that he is leaving makes me start crying again.

I don't want him to go.

I think it is fantastic that I have a kid, for the first time, moving out with his own plan. I am proud of him for doing everything that was necessary to make this happen entirely on his own. I think it will be harder for him than he thinks it will be, and I think he might even give up and come home early. But in any case it will be good for him and I have moved to the point that I fully support the plan. In some moments I am even excited for him.

But I don't want him to go.

So my counselor would ask me what am I re-feeling? If my emotions of grief and loss are this strong, making me behave in ways I recognize as insane and out of proportion from the thing that I am purportedly sad about, what else am I mourning? My own separation from my mother? The loss of David and Ann? Carl?

No, not Carl. Carl is not really gone. He is far away, but he did not really leave me. He is still strongly connected to me. He still comes home.

My mother? Maybe, but I don't think so.

David and Ann? Yeah...I can start crying about them again right now really easily. I can move from thinking about Evan leaving and crying to thinking about them and I doesn't feel like I have changed the subject at all.

So now what? I'm grieving and it hurts like hell. I feel like a bandage is being slowly pulled off and I want to rip it off and get it over with.

I mean that. At one moment this morning when I was behaving badly, but not as badly as I might have, it occurred to me that part of me really wanted to say something to like, "If you can't follow my rules then pack up and get the h-ll out!" That was actually the moment that I de-escalated myself and left to cry in the kitchen until it was time to get Miss E.

Right now, at this exact moment (I know I will feel differently very soon) it feels impossible to live with him, waiting for him to go, for 26 more days. I don't know where or how I will find the strength.

I emailed Maria's social worker. I told her that I could not take Maria for Thanksgiving. Evan is going to be visiting his brother, and I need that time to take a little respite myself.

I only have one class this morning and my students don't have anything big due this week, so they won't be coming in for appointments, so I am going to run away this afternoon. I don't know where I will run to yet. Evan is going to be home so I can't go there to have a break from dealing with the pain of him leaving. But I packed up my quilting supplies so that I don't have to go back home for them. I'll call my friend who lives in the City. She will probably be working, but she might be able to eat lunch with me and she will let me stay in her house for the afternoon.

Some part of me registers that there is something about this that does not make logical sense. I don't want Evan to go and that is bothering me so much that I need to take a break from being with him. I know it doesn't make logical sense, but it is true.

It does remind of the last months with David when he was gone all the time and Hubby wondered if we could ask for respite for one weekend. David wasn't home, so why would we want respite? We wanted respite so that his disappearing would not be our problem for one weekend. We wanted him to be running away from someone else for a while.

So my blogging buddies...I wished you lived as close as it feels that you do. Because there are several of you whose door-steps I would be inclined to run to right now.


  1. I wish I could give you a real hug, but I guess a virtual one is the best that I can do at the moment... :(

    Grief is a weird thing, and it comes up in all kinds of odd ways that you don't expect. I *thought* I was over the big crying episodes from when my grandfather died.

    Last night, though, there I was sitting on the edge of my bed crying because I was sick and because I missed my grandfather so very much. Then, in comes "Danielle" to whine about something and I wished I could have fed her to the piranhas that allegedly live in the sewers...

    My feelings are also complicated by the fact that my sister, who I didn't see for eight years, has made another appearance to help my father did through grandpa's stuff. I'd like to see her, but I have mixed feelings about taking off from work and I am sick anyway...

    I guess all I can say is that it's probably a good thing that I can only give you a virtual hug because I would surely give you my cold otherwise.

  2. Anonymous2:25 PM

    How much worse a foster parent you'd be if you did not feel the loss of each child.

  3. I'm sorry you're having a bad day, Beth. :-( I wish teenagers came with an empathy dial that could be turned up on occasion. I hope you get a good break - and if you ever really reallllly want to hide out, they'd never find you here in Nebraska. Just cornfields and cows!

  4. I left you a comment. I know I did.

    Maybe it didn't register somehow.

    Doesn't matter. I was just sending you a hug. I had nothing useful to contribute except empathy.

  5. beth if it weren't so very far away, i've been told this falling down victorian in the deep south is a very good place to hide from the hurt and pain of the real world. lord knows this town is the land of the happy eccentrics! evan is in that awful and obnoxious place almost grown, extremely immature boys go to make us all nuts. he thinks he is grown and ready to hit the world as an adult, but he is still scared and oh so possive of you. and it is still all about him, maybe being on his own and in a helping position in another country will help him gain the self confidence he is so lacking now. when it all boils down, he is really more scared little boy than anything else. not that this makes him any easier to like or to live with when he acts like a buffoon!! oh well, hang in there, this too will pass!

  6. Oh, Beth, I'm so sorry.

    I have no good advice to give -- I'm officially mom-brained. All I can think of to make it better is a Sesame Street bandaid, ear drops, and an ice cream sandwich. If you show up on my doorstep, I'll even throw in a soft puppy to pet.

  7. I truly wish you were running to our CITY. I know some great places to lunch, see the water and while away the troubles.

    Big Hug and shoulders for you. Let me know if you just need someone to echat with.

  8. thanks for all the kindness folks.

    I emailed those of you whose addresses I have.

    Hope: I think I do have your address but that I don't have it associated with your blogging name. So thanks ... and I would have loved to hang out in the corn with the cows for a while.


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