there and back again (or something)December 19, 2012
Lee and I made our big trek to NYC for Lee’s birthday last week and had a wonderful time, spent way too much time in airports, and spent way too much money all over the place. It was great, especially because the girls were having so much fun with our next-door neighbors that they didn’t even want to talk to us when we called. I don’t think I could have talked myself into the trip if we’d just been leaving Mara behind, but knowing that Mara and Nia would play together and keep each other company gave me the opportunity to be relaxed about taking our first trip since we went to meet Colton two and a half years ago, and doing something new really paid off and all four of us (plus our neighbors) had a fun weekend.
Suddenly it’s the week before Christmas, though, and I’m dealing with getting ready for all of that along with talking about gun violence and managing how Nia is sad about missing two weeks of visits with her mom because of the holidays. Her mom had asked me to have Nia’s hair ready for her to style at this week’s visit, which is hard since Nia goes to school all day before a visit and Nia’s mom likes her hair straightened with heat before she braids but I don’t have a straightening iron even if that were something I was interested in doing to a 6-year-old’s hair, so instead Nia apparently spent the entirety of the play therapy session having her hair braided and crying about how it hurt and how she wanted to play, which is not going to make the therapist more impressed with her mom’s parenting. On the other hand, her mom made some nice selections in the gifts she chose for Nia, and it clearly meant a lot to Nia to have a giant bag of gifts from her mom. I’d had Mara and Nia make ornaments and Nia gave her mom one plus some things she’d chosen at the store, and I gave her a new batch of pictures that build a little narrative of what Nia has done in each month she’s been with us. (Next week we hit six months together as a family of four, also about six months until the court will start terminating her mom’s rights as a parent if her mom hasn’t made substantial progress by then. I’m not sure her mom understands how quickly that time can go by, but on the other hand it is a lot of time.)
Before we went out of town, Lee and I were able to get Mara into the feeding specialists at the local children’s hospital. They confirmed that there don’t seem to be physiological reasons Mara would be eating things that aren’t food and that she does just fine when eating food, but we’re going to get a sensory study done and work with occupational therapists to come up with plans to try to find non-eating options that will meet the needs she has. We’ll also be getting some psychological support for her, though I don’t know the details of that yet. It’s been a huge relief to at least have a plan in place, although we’re very realistic about how our goal is to help her gradually learn to cope in healthier ways, not to try to overcome those behaviors completely. I mean, it sure would be nice not to have to worry about her chewing on things, but I don’t realistically think that’s in our near future and we can live with that.
I’m feeling really down on myself right now because I’m not the partner I want to be. I’m doing well enough as a parent and foster parent, but Lee and I aren’t getting what we need. I don’t think hauling the girls out of state to spend Christmas with my grandmother and extended will be exactly the rest and relaxation I was hoping for, but they will love it and I hope I’ll use it as an opportunity to practice being kinder to both of us. Tonight we’re going back to setting aside time to talk to each other in structured and comforting ways, something our counselor had been having us do. Just knowing that I have that to look forward to has already made me feel a little better. I appreciate that Lee’s willing to help me and keep me honest about the things that are hard for me. Right now, appreciating the good things I have is hard for me. I think taking some time to rest and reflect will help that, but what helps even more is that I do have so many wonderful things in my life and I’ll see three big smiles tonight. The girls and I are going to make some thumbprint cookies with the grape jelly they made at our friends’ farm and winery, and I think it’s hilarious that their first jelly-making experience includes knowledge of what varietals the grapes are. We’ve had some amazing times in these past six months, and I look forward to more.