The other night David and I had a hard talk.
It was about four kids, and how exhausting and hard and crazy it all was. How we were up before light, and exhausted and half asleep trying to binge watch something in the evening….remember when we got to binge watch TV, babe? And how we are fighting for moments alone together – when the walk-in bedroom closet is the only place – and struggling to connect, and struggling to finish a conversation, and struggling to meet the huge needs of all our kids, how our kids get so much needier when the foster kids come in, how they all need individual love, how we break apart and soothe them each individually to make sure everyone has enough.
We held hands across the pillow, a sick kid in between us, a metaphor, and wondered if we had enough, to keep us going, to keep or marriage from slowly, inching toward an abyss, and dropping off, without anyone really knowing why it slipped over the edge.
They seemed so happy…. the people would say.
We didn’t stop holding hands.
Two is easier than four. Maybe we should’ve just left well enough alone…WHAT THE HELL DID WE DO????
Then, unable to think about it anymore, we fell asleep. Nothing was parsed out. It was left hanging there between us.
The next day started with the usual business. No time to revisit feelings. There were lunches to pack, faces to wash, foreheads to kiss, problems to untangle. Work, writing, shopping, stacks of paperwork I’ve been putting off for weeks. Two ballet classes, an art class, the little ones’ visit with bio mom, lots of driving from here to there. Every section of the schedule fitting like a tight-ass puzzle of interlocking parts.
And then a call on the road. His bio mom wasn’t coming. He ran to me in the schoolyard, calling my name, hugging my legs. The next thing he said was, “Are we having a visit today?”
I told him no. Hugged him, and said I was sorry. He pretended it didn’t matter and changed the subject. We left it all to be unpacked for later, in the wee hours of the night, in the slanted quiet moments of the day, when he could hear it and speak it and move on from it.
Sigh. Sometimes being a foster parent makes you feel like a placeholder. Like the bio parents are taunting you, “Hey thanks for taking care of my kiddos, and dealing with a whole lotta shit, and creating a quagmire in your life, and fucking with your marriage, so I can do my thing in peace over here….” But sometimes it’s like this mission, where you see what it all really means – How you are the only people who are calm and predictable in a kid’s life. How you are the only ones who show up when you are expected to show up. How you are the people who do exactly as you say you will do and a kid starts to understand this is as normal. His normal. And you know, at seven months into this relationship with these kiddos, he is starting to expect that kind of normal, and he is already a less damaged person in the world because of it.
And you remember why there are so many reasons four is good.
These tiny little wins matter.
David and I are okay. Way better than okay. We make sure of it. This moment, the one in the bed with all the hand holding, happened two weeks ago, and we’ve talked it through, created a plan to make it easier on us, and burned through it to the other side. I found my description of it sitting on the computer this morning. I barely even remember the serious tones that I wrote here. It was 234 traumas and 3,000 feelings ago.
We move fast.
We make choices. Like adding more kids to the family. (Maybe we will even add more after this…There has been talk.) Sometimes these decisions feel like weights, and sometimes they set us free. Choosing to have these two join our older two feels sometimes like we threw ourselves into the eye of a tornado.
But mostly, it feels like we are all so good for each other.