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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

I guess I was kind of waiting for one, hoping that I could write that final post that pulled everything together, made it all just fine – the ending that made me (and maybe all of you) optimistic about the future.

But no.

A court date was scheduled for last week. And then cancelled because the judge called in sick after everyone else had arrived at the courthouse. It has been rescheduled for November with yet another judge. I think this is the 4th judge on the case but really only the 3rd because this judge was on the case previously or something.

Blitzen has been in care 2426 days (which can also be counted 58,244 hours if my math is right) and she is certainly no closer to permanency/ reunification /any kind of resolution than when we first met her.

What would you do with 2426 days or 58,244 hours?

You could complete college (if you went full-time and stayed on track) 1.65 times. You could get 2 or 3 master degrees, if you put your mind to it. Travel the world in 180 days 13+ times over.  You could drive coast to coast about 1,000 times – assuming that you didn’t stop to smell the roses.  I read somewhere it takes like 75 days to climb Mount Everest – so you could do that, a bunch.  Hike the Appalachian Trail (takes about 6 months so you could do that maybe 12 times – more if you jog part of the way). Took little more than 1 year and 1 month to build the empire state building or so google tells me.

In 2426 days, you could learn a new language, run a bunch of marathons, master a musical instrument, hell – if you are already super fit and spectacularly talented you could train and compete in the Olympics.  You could plant a tree and watch it grow. You could go to a lot of movies – you could make a lot of movies. You could read many books – and write a few too!

Or, you know, you could have a childhood with just the average amount of anxiety and uncertainty.

But no.

Have I ever mentioned that every time that I read a book to Blitzen, about half way through the second chapter, she asks me to read the end?  Every time.  It is just too tense, it is just too much, the not knowing.

I sure do wish that we could peak ahead to the last page now.

But no. So, gonna leave you without an ending. For all the fosterhood followers – we’ll keep Rebecca up to date, I’m sure that she’ll let you know if anything earth shattering like permanency ever happens.

 

P.S. In about a week, I’m taking the blog down.  We talked to Blitzen about blogging and writing and she, in her very Blitzen way, was completely baffled by the thought of folks sharing their ‘business’ with the whole wide world.  So it truly is time to put the blog to bed. I certainly will miss my internet friends, gotta say. This has been the best virtual support group a foster family ever had. Thanks – don’t think we would have made it the past 3 years without all of the peace, love and understanding.

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You made me cry a bit there – in a good way. My sis-in-law wrote to say that even she got a little teary from the comments and she is a total badass. (I am concerned about B’s privacy but not my in-laws, apparently!).

I am still a thinking — about Blitzen, self-preservation, a creative outlet, the support hat I really do get from the wonderful vibes anonymous people send my way and the ability to process this incredibly complex way of life that writing has created for me.

I am still a thinking — about what has shifted for me in the last few months that has made things so difficult in a new way.

I am going to take a little break for a week or two and try to figure out if there is a good way to move forward, perhaps with fewer public posts about Blitzen (although as several people have said — there are so many of the wonderful things about this kid that I have captured here, I hope to keep writing all that down for both me and for her whether or not I make those items public). Maybe it is time turn my attention more to some of the social justice issues that being a foster parent has brought into focus for me in a new  and very very real way.

I also just have to say that this past week, the entire world feels wrong which is likely contributing to this feeling that I am having. Everything that is happening in Missouri and the often disheartening discussions that I’ve had with other white people about it, the ridiculous and skewed press coverage, have just weighed me down.  I am deeply saddened, really struggling with how to contribute to this discussion in a meaningful way, how to help Blitzen cope with this tremendous injustice but also prepare for a world that doesn’t see her or respect her.  Even the air feels heavy and full of darkness.

Time to breathe and try to find some brightness.  I’ll likely be back, one way or another, soon.

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We went for a stroll in Central Park to visit Dennis and Stan’s tree.  What, you may wonder, is a Stan and Dennis tree? Well, it is the tree in Central Park where we scattered the ashes of my wonderful father – shhh, don’t tell anyone, I am quite sure that it is illegal – and then later also scattered the ashes of our dear dog Stan.  Since the Marley book, we’ve been talking a lot about endings.

Now, this is an amazing tree and the perfect place for one human and one dog that acted like a human to rest in peace – especially since they were the best of friends.  Blitzen really seemed to take in the occasion and grasp the significance that the place held for Andrew and me.  She did a lot of processing along the way and asked questions like – What were the ashes like? Were we feeling sad? How did we pick the tree? We talked about heaven and reincarnation and that lots of different people believe lots of different things but that the people that we love are always with us in our memories and our hearts.

After strolling around the tree and agreeing that it is a very very fine tree, Blitzen said, “So now I guess your dad and Stan are living in the tree.  The ashes probably went into the ground and up into the tree.” Yes, I think that is probably right.

Dennis and Stan Tree

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Warning: spoiler alerts ahead.

Our family loves to read Elephant and Piggie.   I dryly read the part of Gerald the Elephant while Blitzen reads Piggie the Piggie with exuberant expression.

Our most-read title is “We Are In a Book.”  Our heroes romp playfully together until Piggie mentions that the book will end on Page 57.

“ENDS!?!” screams Elephant.  “The book ends?!”

“Yes,” says Piggie.  “All books end.”

We read those pages again and again, Piggie/Blitzen wisely helping her friend Elephant confront his existential dread.

 

Our latest read has been the story of Marley, a rambunctious, joyful 100-pound dog who lived life in a big way.  Before we started, Carrie and I sat down and talked to Blitzen about how the story would end.  After a few days of reading, we reminded her of the sad ending ahead and asked if she wanted to keep reading.  She responded “Yes!   I can’t stop now.  I have to keep reading about Marley!”

We read about the time Marley’s owner rode a toboggan down the snowy hill behind his house. Naturally, Marley jumped on and the two sped down, hanging onto each other, out of control, screaming, laughing and trying to steer clear of trees before landing in the river.   Blitzen loved every page of Marley’s misadventures.

We finished the book last night and the three of us sobbed together in bed, talking about endings.  We talked about our dog Stan and scattering his ashes under a tree in Central Park.

Blitzen drifted to sleep, then woke up.  “Marley was as wild as the wind,” she announced.  “I hope my dog is wild as the wind too.”

 

There will be many more Blitzen-tagged posts on Carrie’s brilliant blog.  We’re still inventing our family, still learning from one another, still in the middle of our story.   But all books end.   Foster families, like Blitzen’s beach sculptures, are monuments to uncertainty and impermanence.

Carrie and I have made a choice to live and parent like page 57 is a long way away.   When you speed downhill with someone wild as the wind you hang to each other and savor the ride.

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Andrew and I were asked to speak to a group of new recruits at our agency this weekend .  You know, break in the fresh foster parent meat.  We joined the group at the end of their last MAPP training class to share a little bit of our story, discuss some of the challenges (especially the unexpected ones!) of foster parenting and to give the group some insight into therapeutic foster care which is pretty foreign to most folks.

We talked a lot, we always do, about many things.   But I didn’t really talk about something that has been, particularly at this moment in our journey, very difficult for me – the ‘starting in the middle’-ness of fostering.  I feel as though I have picked up a great novel, perhaps War and Peace, only to begin reading on page 347  of 1498 (or whatever it is).

I have been dumped into the drama  well past the starting point.  In addition to the sense of disorientation that comes from knowing that there is a whole lot that I do not know and may well never know, there is a sense of helplessness that comes from knowing that because I missed the beginning, I am going to be clueless, and make a whole lot of stupid assumptions and corresponding missteps from now until this fine story ends.  Of course,  I understand that all parents make mistakes – that is just a human thing to do.

But it feels different.  The fear of these future errors,  looming somewhere in the distance, coupled with my very complicated feelings about Blitzen’s family of origin, have created a great and genuine sadness in me. To have been there at the beginning, not only to know, to learn, and to understand but also to have witnessed the many early, wonderful moments of Blitzen-ness, what a magnificent gift that would have been.  But alas, I am here on page 399, slowly working my way through, trying to pick up on the context clues and figure it out as I go along.

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Totally awesome, applied by Blitzen and Carrie.

"An african american mermaid, just like me" said Blitzen

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I am in red rock country, settling, centering, quieting myself. I visited the same petroglyphs that I wrote about a year ago. And once again, I am awed by the beauty of the art carved deep in the rock, equally awed by the need of human beings to connect and communicate through space and time. To reveal their story and explain (or maybe discover?) their origins.

Lately, Blitzen has been fairly obsessed with hearing the story of the day we met. She will ask Andrew and I to tell the tale, from our own point of view and then, she’ll ask to hear it again.

I try not to get too much inside Blitzen’s head. But this new, oft repeated topic of conversation, really has me wondering what she is thinking and feeling. On some levels, it is pretty transparent, as she struggles to feel like a part of our family, this memory is something big, important, a moment that we all share. And, of course, it is the beginning. Hard to know where you should go next, if you can’t come to terms with where you have been.

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