Sunday, July 3, 2011

In The Beginning

In the beginning there was a mom who wanted to get her children interested in journaling, well that was the excuse anyway, really this was just a ploy to get them to do something calming, expressive,and educational. She created a rule that all family members would journal for 15 minutes before bedtime every night. This rule led her to and this is where it all went horribly right, at least that's the expectation.

Tonight is the first night of our "every family member must journal" rule. As usual, I'm the only one who cares about the damn schedule. My son, age 4, is in the downstairs bathroom giving me a play-by-play of the goings on in there, including counting the toilet paper squares and that, fortunately, I "got it the right way this time." Go me. My eldest daughter, age 5, is upstairs. She's supposed to be getting her pajamas on, but instead she's arguing with her 2 year old sister. This is what is considered fun around here- teasing and taunting the baby. I half hope that one day she just smacks her siblings. I often wonder if I'd punish her afterwards. I lean towards no most of the time, and then I wonder if that makes me a bad mom... not keeping the rules fairly and all. Seems like some sort of fairy tale, mean step mom thing to do. Hmm...

Apparently they've solved whatever issue they had as they have now taken the cushions off the couch and are sliding down the stairs. I used to yell about things like that. Now I just keep a first aid kit handy and give them the look that says, "You know you're doing something stupid, right?" Screw it, they have insurance. Besides, it seems to be more effective than time out.

Even though my children are 5, 4, and 2, I've only been a mom for a little over two years and sometimes I think I'm still adjusting. Some background- My husband and I got married in Oct. 2008 and decided to do foster care. We had heard that the whole process usually takes about 2 or 3 years before you actually have kids in your house, so we, blissfully ignorant, signed up for foster care 10 days after our wedding. In April 2009, we got a call asking us if we wanted three children ages 3, 2, and 5 months. We said yes, and 12 hours later they were at our house. That was the real beginning.

I think this is where I should warn you that the purpose of this journal, for me, is to write down every thing I can remember about the last 2 years, and also add to it all the great stuff that happens now that I don't want to forget. I'm hoping that along the way I pick up some "fans", (is that what you call them? Followers seems so cult-y.) to swap parenting advice/ stories and to commiserate with.

I don't have many memories of the very beginning of my mothering- I think I blocked it out for self-preservation purposes. I do remember spending almost every night on the couch with my husband in tears and telling him that I couldn't do this, I wasn't cut out for this, etc. The thing about being a foster parent is that not only do you have kids, but you have kids that are angry and hurting and they blame it all on you. You wouldn't think that 2 and 3 year olds could be very mean or destructive, but you would be sorely wrong. I can't count the number of black eyes I had that first summer, I do know that for an entire month I didn't leave the house because I was worried that someone would think that my husband was beating me. That first summer was torturous hell, until July 16, 2009. That day we had decided to take the kids to the aquatic center for a playdate with some friends of ours. I parked the van, opened the slider door, and my oldest said to me, "You're like my mom, and my friend." She just said it, matter of factly like there was nothing life altering about it. Up to this point she had been the hardest nut to crack, she had seen the most, remembered the most, and experienced the most. At the age of 3 she was a bonafide mom to the youngest two, and she was pissed as hell when I came in and started taking her role over. We butted heads about every little thing, when the baby got fed, changed, napped, if her brother needed to eat his veggies or not, what the rules were.. it didn't matter what I did, she was unhappy and telling me all about it. They were weird, unhealthy conversations to be having with a 3 year old and they always left me shaken. I already felt like my parenting sucked and then this little, tiny child is telling me how I should do it, when I should do it, and telling me every single time I fucked it up- which was often in her eyes. Anyway, I remember her saying that to me and I remember standing there unsure of what to do now. I finally said, "Well, I'm kinda like your mom because I love you and take care of you, and I'm definitely your friend." Then I unbuckled all the car seats, carried a baby and held two hands, and walked to the building, hoping and praying that I wasn't going to burst into tears in the middle of the parking lot. Shortly after that day I had another amazing moment with her, this time at home. I had fed the baby "wrong" and she was correcting me when I told her that it wasn't her job to take care of her brother or sister. She stepped back like I slapped her and her eyes filled up with tears and she asked me, "Then what do I do?". Try to imagine having this conversation with your 3 year old. Heart breaking. I told her that her job was to go play, be a kid, and have fun. She sulked in the corner for the rest of the day and refused to look at me, but she also stopped correcting my every move, and that was the breaking in of my oldest daughter. I'm not saying that she snapped out of it immediately and turned into the bright and amazing child she is now over night, but that's when the tide turned. You should see her now, all sweetness and light.

That was enough reminiscing, now onto the new stuff. Tonight before bed we all took turns praying and my daughter's prayer went like this, "Umm... God? I like you and, um, thank you for my show being on and, um, letting me watch it. I like you. Bye." Then my son said, "To God: I love you very, very much and thank you for Lightning McQueen. That's all." At which point the baby said, "I just like my underwear, not my diaper. I'm done." You may have guessed that this is our first time praying out loud in a group, but if it's this cute every time, I'm going to start making it a daily thing, like this journal.

Now for the rest of the day by day boringness- My mom came over today and stayed with us for lunch and dinner. She brought a desk for my son's room and a bunch of supplies for our craft cubby. Also while she was here, she weeded my garden, which is quite the task. Gardening is something I swear every spring I'm going to have time for so I start growing things and by the end of June it's completely over grown and nothing turns out. Bless my mom for trying though. We've been working on re-doing the house for about two months now. We've turned the dining room into a playroom and turned the back half of the awkward, rectangle shaped living room into the dining room. Now I'd like to get going on turning the master bedroom and bath into the relaxing spa I want, but as usual, the kids come first and I find myself redoing their rooms instead. Ugh.

Alright, the kids are tucked in and I'm still sitting her blogging. That's ridiculous. It's time to not be 'mom', flip on the tv, make a drink, and enjoy my night alone. My hubby closes at work tonight so I won't see him til tomorrow, I love those days.

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