Friday, July 22, 2016

I don't know if everyone has one of these, but since childhood I've always had the same recurring "Pee Dream." The dream which would end in warmth and, eventually, stinging shame. My dream is something like this: I am kidnapped by ninjas. They are wearing all black, including a ski mask, and have the ability to climb walls. They take me to a house that has dingy pale-yellow walls. There is no roof. I inform the wall crawling ninjas in black that I need to use the facilities. They slink down the hall (on the walls of course) and take me to a stark bathroom with only a toilet. The two of them loiter in the room (not paying any attention to me) as I do the deed. I then wake and heave out a sigh. Thankfully it has been many years since this has happened. Well, as you may have noticed from my recent Woe is Me posts, I am having a flareup. Monday night I went to sleep like usual. [Begin dream] I am a new student at a high school I'm not familiar with. Before class starts, I frantically search for a bathroom that isn't populated with a mass of unfriendly judgmental peers. I go to bathroom after bathroom, only to find that there are hordes of students in all of them, male and female alike. There are some free stalls, but there is only a meager striped curtain separating them, some curtains only limply hanging by a couple of rings while the rest flaps into the hall. Other stalls are full of things too gross to consider. Thankfully I never find an open stall. Instead I awake with a painful cramp in my stomach. This was my first ever "Poo Dream." Upping my meds? I think yes. Not interested in bringing the phrase "shit the bed" from funny concept to painful reality. Written 5/1/2012!!!! Maybe it stayed in edit mode due to shame. I'm quite improved since then. Not perfect, but improved.
Now that we've had kids for four months (btw, we have a foster placement of two boys, 3 and 1.5 y/o), I feel more confident and less wishy-washy about not wanting to have kids of my own. I just started The Scarlet Letter, and the intro describes some elderly folk. It got me to pondering the reason I wasn't against having kids before. It's simple, and selfish, as most things human tend to be. I just keep picturing the family tree and knowing it will snuff out and I'll leave a dead and lonely stub of a branch. I will be an afterthought to those that remain on my tree. To me, that is sad. I really have an interest in my family history, and I won't be able to pass that on. No one will wonder about me, and if for some reason they do, they may think me infertile or some such thing to explain why I didn't procreate. Maybe not. The world is changing in that way. I will be the lonely aunt who never had kids who you visit out of obligation. Just feels weird and lonely to consider. Then I realized what I've really been neglecting is friendships and the upkeep of relationships. That is how people without kids survive into their old age. Death is less sad as you age. It makes more sense. By the time I grow old, if I am so lucky, I will be death weary. It will be a part of life. Not the poignant ripping pain that it might be today if someone close to me were to pass. But that's something I respect the old for. They are battle weary and seasoned in the experience of death. I wish it weren't so taboo. One of our boys talks about death when he's sword fighting and such and my gut reaction was to tell him that's not nice, but I pulled back. Why isn't it nice? It's a fact of life. A much neglected and avoided lesson that we continue to try to hide under our covers from. It deserves contemplation and discussion and acceptance. It's not a dirty word. Written 02/2016.

Grandpa's Bread Crumbs

I think one of the most amazing and wonderful things about books and antiques and any other tactile marker for time is that it's as though you're picking up just one single grain of sand from one single point in time and getting the privilege of thoroughly examining it. It allows us to connect to our elders. I fucking love that.

Child's Play

I realized today that what I'm actually doing is taking the torch of my mom's legacy, and to a certain extent, my great grandpa. My environment is just much more safe and predictable and sterile, but the premise is the same. I think that's why I became a foster mom. I saw my mom picking up strays and being their "safe place" (at least relative to their previous circumstances) and realized there may be a day I was called upon to do the same. I don't know that I was able to recognize that in the beginning, when it was just a vague thought and 12 Saturdays worth of classes, wham, bam, thank you ma'm. But now that I'm living it, with two little kids in my house, it finally struck me. I have recently began to also think about carrying on my great grandpa's legacy, which has helped me to not feel inadequate as I've gotten a new and more corporate job four months ago (I wrote this in 11/2015). I felt less than and couldn't explain why except to think of my dirty upbringing and childhood. Then I thought I wanted to change it, and make myself into what my great grandpa was trying to build and nurture. What he got right with my mom is that she's a good person with a huge and giving heart, just no concept of how to be an adult; I want more of myself and I think he did too. Two different concepts, but they fit together. I'm sure I could come up with a smoother segue, but this has been sitting in edit mode for 8 months and I want to clean out the clutter I've been building.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

To Good Friends

My soul gets full on your stories. Fat and happy like a baby without a care for the bystanders peering through the glass at this great thing we have. And there are many of us, collected carefully, considered in as many angles as chance and recklessness and careful planning could forge. This is the thing I have. These are my precious gifts, handled like blown glass or like tempered steel. I have never thought myself lucky, except in this. It has taken all the luck, and is welcome to it, to keep these things alive. Some folks just fill us up. Make us feel lucky to have happened upon them, and hope to make it forever.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ch-ch-changes...turn and face the strain

Shit loads going on. Been awhile. Been kind of tucked into myself over this last year, trying to stop my head from spinning off my neck. I went through a deep betrayal about a year ago, and since then it feels like time is on fast forward and reverse intermittently, unpredictably. I'm working on it though. Going to counseling. I've always thought it would do me some good anyway; figure it would do everyone some good if they weren't so worried about the stigma of it. It's like talking things though with a friend, but one that has been trained on how to give advice and help you figure out the root of what's ailing you. I've never started so many self help books; I've always kind of hated them until now. Then again, they're nearly all sitting on my bed side table half read. Slow and steady wins the race. I think the betrayal was the catalyst for a shit load of changes that were a long time coming. Sometimes the only way to find motivation to move is in an earthquake.

We had our first respite placement a few weeks ago. Respite is basically a kind of babysitter for foster parents; we are licensed but not ready for a full time "permanent" placement. He is an 11 year old boy and stayed with us for almost a month. He was pretty damned well adjusted. It was rocky since we went from zero kids to an eleven year old overnight. When they dropped him off at our house, it literally felt like they were bringing us a pizza. The taxi driver knocked on our door, had me sign for him, and left without coming in or introducing us or anything. Basically this kid rolled in his suitcase and we looked at each other for awhile. Then we played a couple games of Clue and felt a little more eased into the environment. Then came the real work where we had to talk about bed time, and showers (apparently pre teen boys despise them), and food, and cleaning, and running out of underwear in the morning before summer program, and library books, and video games, and all that shit. It was pretty cool, really. And it helped me step outside of myself, which I desperately need to do sometimes. I took to this placement like a fish to water - I find comfort in giving someone else my full attention so that I don't have to think about or focus on myself at all. It means I don't have to be motivated and make decisions on what to do, or not do, because I am focused on someone else. It turns out this is kind of a pattern for me.

*Pan to my late-teens* Once I was out of my dads place, I rented a house with my brother and worked two or three jobs at a time to afford it. Then I got into a relationship and quit one of my jobs, but replaced it with school. Then I got my AA degree and put school on hold and just worked a regular full time job...and watched a shit load of TV. I fasted from TV sometimes, but then binged. I seem to have a hard time keeping myself occupied with my own personal interests. It feels like an intimidating endeavor for me. I need to think about it some more. That's why I want to get back into writing. It is a big self care thing for me - I am creating something, not just dully observing the creations of others. That's a thought in progress that I hope to come back to when I'm not so bursting with other things to say.

I was rear ended on my way home from work a few days before we got our respite placement. My car was totaled. Some girl didn't see traffic was stopped on the off-ramp of the freeway and she slammed into me, slammed my car through a chain link fence, and spun it around the opposite direction of where I started.
T'was a good car that served me well, it had been paid off for about six years, I'd just repainted it and gotten the tint replaced, and had a new stereo put in like six months prior. It was a real bitch. Oh, and the girl didn't have insurance, so that added insult to injury. Thankfully I had uninsured/under-insured on my policy and they gave me a somewhat reasonable sum for my car, and I ended up with a way cooler car that I actually LOVE driving, so it's all good. I'll have a car payment for about a year, but that's no big deal. I can't complain.

On to the next thing; I resigned from my job. I'd been with the company for ten and a half years. It just feels like the right time to move on. I feel like this is a moment in my life to make changes, and I didn't have much more room to grow in my current position. I will be there for two more weeks, then it's on to the next job I've got lined up. It will be a good transition, but I will sorely miss all the people I've worked with these many years. I spend more time with them than I do with my own flesh and blood, and they have become a family to me. Change is hard, but when I know it's time, I thirst for it and can't contain myself from hitting the gas and going pedal to the metal at a furious clip.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Becoming a Foster Parent

About a year ago I decided to quit school. I had been planning on working towards my Bachelors in Social Work, but for a variety of reasons, I hung up my hat. At the same time, I wanted to have some sense of fulfillment in life that I simply wasn't experiencing with my everyday routine. I had been pondering, for a VERY long time, becoming a foster parent, but the timing never felt right. That invisible boundary of "some day" dissipated. I proposed the idea to Rich and got his tentative agreement to attend an orientation.

The orientation had more people than I expected (probably about 30), and was hosted by two ladies who both worked for different agencies. They gave us a presentation for what we could expect as foster parents, highlighting just the basics, and said we would get into much more detailed info if we chose to follow through and take the PS-MAPP classes. After orientation, Rich seemed slightly more warmed up to the idea and agreed to move forward with selecting an agency and taking classes.

We were given a rather long list of agencies to choose from, each of which had their own special parameters; some were Christian organizations, others dealt exclusively with infants and toddlers, some were targeted for the black community, and many were just very general with slight variations. I spent some time going over them, and with the input of some of my Social Worker friends, selected an agency. I called, got scheduled for classes and got busy.

The classes were kind of a 'fast track' schedule, so rather than twelve weeks of evening classes, we chose six weeks of Saturday classes. There was a lot of homework, various other paperwork, house preparation, and much self reflection / discussion. Some of the paper work was family history type stuff, like how we were disciplined as kids, who we grew up with, etc. Some was to establish specifics about the kids we would be taking in, including age range (we chose 6-12), if we had a gender/race preference, what kind of disabilities or 'labels' we would be willing to work with (i.e. 'fire starter' or 'history of violence toward other kids'). Our class was a mixture of community foster and kinship. Community foster means you take in kids from the general population who were displaced from their parents, often due to neglect. Kinship foster is for relatives of the kids in foster care, most of which were grandparents. Working with a mixture of community/kinship was interesting because the kinship folks already have the kids in their home, and we got to hear about their experience working with 'the system,' like court dates, case workers, and bio-parents. The classes were incredibly interesting, and I felt we bonded really well as a class. We did some role playing, worked in groups, had deep discussions, and overall learned a lot. We also met some really great people.

Once the classes were complete, we had a meeting with our newly assigned Licensing Worker, who came to our house and listened to and recorded, essentially, our life stories. She then submitted a 30 page report to the state about her findings. A few weeks later we got an email saying that we are now officially licensed to be foster parents. I know it's what we signed up for, but when the time arrived, we definitely had a "holy crap, this is real, and it's happening right now" moment. We had some bumps along the road, lots of looking at ourselves and considering what we want, and many 'ah ha' moments, which are always startling. We have decided to move forward and starting in August, we will begin taking placements. We are both excited, nervous, and so looking forward to what happens next.