Whiskey and sadness is no good. It makes the ground ripe for tear spillage. Such was the case when my whiskey soaked self watched Silver Lining Playbook.
It's a story of a crazy man who moves from an asylum to his parent's house. His brand of crazy is bipolar. He vibrates with obsessive energies. He learned to control them to a certain degree. Running helps. Not acting crazy helps. On a run, he picks up a girl. Not entirely welcomed though (see illustration above).
This is where the movie starts to destroy me. The girl is a lot like what I use to be. I did not expect that.
She chases him in search of comfort and companionship. She's nuts and people treat her that way. All arms length. Her nuts is a bit more balanced than his. Hers is a bit more cohesive and didn't require inpatient stays. But, we all have needs and hers is to be loved.
He finally starts to hang out with her because she can do him a favor. He's obsessed with contacting his wife. With restraining orders in place, he's disparate. She knows his wife. This creates a need for him to know her. Without this piece, he would probably tell her to eff off completely and the book would be done.
It's about leverage. Girl has been leveraging what she has to get what she wants because when folks keep their distance, you need a way to bring them closer. When it comes to men, this girl puts out. Pretty much to everyone because that is a way of getting love. Losers come out in droves for this.
With my ground thoroughly watered by whiskey, I started to sob. I remember phone calls and letters of men wanting to meet me...all because they thought they could get lucky. They were mostly right. I was less than 16 at the time.
It's so sad thinking about this. Even a week later and stone cold sober.
Mr. Hall asked me how? Why? What can we do so this doesn't happen to our daughter?
I can say I had no center and was lonely. I was scared and introverted. I had a lot of unsupervised MTV time which, looking back, had a lot of soft coreness about it. Never underestimate the influence of what you surround yourself with. I didn't have a mom or dad who were particularly plugged into my life. They didn't read my poetry or understand why I shaved my head. But I don't blame them. We all did the best we could at the time.
A hundred partners and many years later I stopped reaching out by putting out. But all of this caused some damage A few years into my marriage I started to unravel things through therapy, yoga and weightwatchers. Yoga was especially helpful.
I think about what healed me. I can say love very much healed me. Love from God, love from forgiveness. Love from Mr. Hall.
It's a crazy world ya'll. Love pretty much heals every wound I've ever had.
There is a section of this blog that deals with my two miscarriages. Those times were motivating our foster parenthood.
I don't admit this outloud but Mr. Hall has- so there we are.
It was a good Easter weekend this weekend. Traveling, family and sometimes some cold hard truth. Mr. Hall had enough libation to let me know he's tired. Worn through. Tired of foster baby mama drama and wanting our little foster daughter to transition to help her heal. She needs to move on and heal because here she is in limbo. Mr. Hall said it outloud...we aren't the right or for real family for her. Our foster daughter has been with us for a long time. Two years. It's been a looooooooooong two years.
Foster kids stay with foster families for 17 months on average. The bioparents have a long time to get their act together. Sometimes they can't. And for this, I try to extent mercy. I feel bad they're trapped in their addictions, mental illness and plain old selfishness. I get angry too. Two years later and we're still getting angry phone calls about not doing her baby's hair right. Because hair ya'll.
During the miscarriages, Mr. Hall and I leaned on each other. We cried and held each other. I was going nuts inside and so was he. We took a break from trying for more babies. Stop for six months he said. So six months it was. I went on birth control and we went about our life. Six months later he got me rip roaring drunk and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to try again. He did too. So we had our baby.
A few times a week I marvel at our now toddler. His perfect symmetry. I think about his DNA being knitted together in my womb. How it all went right and he was born so perfect. I think about the babies I lost and how the DNA didn't mesh together right and they were lost to this world. They were still alive though. They are still my babies and I'll see them in Heaven.
I think about this and my craziness with the foster kids. It is a tough gig ya'll. It is a strain. It affects all my family. These kids and their bioparents are work!
Mr. Hall wrote our social worker and gave 5 paragraphs of feelings about all of this. Mr. Hall has reached his limit and he wants a break. But, unlike going back on birth control to stop the madness, transitioning a foster child is not so easy.
There are options and we'll take it slow. We can't hurry any of this. Hopefully her family will step up. Hopefully it'll be done in a few months. Hopefully. For her and for us. If not, we'll just keep on keeping on.
Then, we'll break. I'll crossfit and weight watchers just like I am now. Then six months will go by. Then Mr. Hall will get me drunk and we'll discuss the next step. It won't be trying for another baby. Mr. Hall had the surgery which shall not be named when I was pregnant last.
I want no mistaking my intention though. I am not done growing this family. I have a need for more than three. I am selfish and demanding with this. I want to adopt and it's ok if it's a sibling group. I am blinded by this. I am crazy howling at the moon crazy about this.
I want to adopt so I can be done. So I can feel complete. So I can take these kids and make them our own. So I can be done with the bioparents if I want to. Adopting from the foster system is not easy. I'm sure it's not easier than caring for a child for two years and then sending them on. But it's in me this need. The call is unrelenting.
Like I said, crazy howling at the moon about this.
These are times where you sit in front of the teacher and they have 15 min. to
rattle off how your child is doing. It's not a conversation, it's a mini
speech. I learned my oldest daughter, Pancake, now 12-- is being recommended
for advanced math. As I looked over the 'AP' classes of algebra, trig, and
calculus...I was flooded with wonderful memories. I loved math. I am a nerd and
still am. MATH RULES!
I can't wait for my daughter to excell in everything she does. I can't wait
to read over her math homework and wax nostalgic. My head will explode with rapturous
joy when she starts reading Shakespeare!
My foster daughter is getting better with reading. And behaviors. Yay!
Then there is Mac, now age 8. I left his conference in tears. Not happy
tears but sad ones. WHICH IS WHY I SHOULDN'T GO TO THESE THINGS.
Mac is smart. Like Mensa smart. I know, we've had him tested. We tested him
because he struggles with behaviors. Sitting still, paying attention, keeping
his emotions from flying all over the place...all of these things are not his
strong suit. It was of no surprise he has attention deficit disorder. His mommy
has it. His daddy has it too.
We knew he was smart, but genius level was a bit of a shock. It makes sense
though. Yesterday, in the car, my eight year old was asking about cloned sheep.
And radiation. And what ibuprofen means.
At the conference, his lovely blond teacher was telling me how Mac doesn't
participate. He sits at his desk and reads. Reading at super high level, much
higher than his peers. He doesn't want to sit on the carpet with the rest of
the kids. "He wants to be alone", the teacher said. So, they let him
read and do the 1/2 hour assignments in 2 min flat. They let him not participate
because he's not disrupting the class.
That's an improvement. He used to be a huge disruption. Pounding, kicking,
angry. Letters and calls from school. Now it seems instead of going outward,
he's going inward. That's my trigger to start crying. I'm INWARD AND IT SUCKS. I'm
an introvert who struggles with making small talk. Who struggles with fitting
in, social gatherings and acting nonchalant. I'm 39 for land's sake. I've
gotten very good at faking it but it's still a struggle. I want to tell Pancake
and Mac to fight their inward leanings. You can be smart and outward.
Here's the thing, as the kids get older, the less they need to listen to me.
Like Pancake. She's entering adolescence which is, by definition, the most
awkward and struggle filled time of anyone's life. Meanwhile her life is
unfolding before her. She needs to start figuring this out. It is up to her to
pass the AP math classes. She'll figure it out if she wants to. I'll be there
but I'm not going to hover or push.
Mac is eight. He's outgrowing time outs and becoming more scattered with
things. Regulating his behavior is different. Less difficult and harder at the same
time. He has long moments of emotional calm and his charming genius fills the
room. I pray and imagine this will be him as he grows into a man.
The bright spot in all of this is that he's been recommended for a special
school for gifted kids. It's a school where kids learn twice as fast and learn
twice as much. They cater to the kind of learner Mac is. I hope upon hope this
is where he'll flourish.
But, I always remember I was a genius who almost flunked out of high school.
They didn't test me until 9th grade. And I have a master's degree.
So. I've had the wee foster ones in
our care for quite some time now. It makes for a crowded house and a crowded
table in my head.
People always ask, "Are you going to adopt them..." And I
have to go into a shortened version of no and why.
The end game of foster placements is permanency. The kids are not meant to
stay with foster families forever. They are meant to return to mom, go to a
relative or the foster family adopts them. Another option is someone becoming a
guardian. Which is not quite adoption.
This is the most likely option for our foster son. He lives, most of the
time, with his grandparents. They rely on us for support and care of the little
guy. They cannot raise him without us. I say this not out of arrogance, but out
of three years with this family. However, once they become guardians, things
What we think about, what I think about, is our obligation to this little
guy. He loves us. He sees us as a stable loving family he gets to be part of.
We agree. We don't agree to keep enabling his grandparents. To be completely
selfish, we don't want them in our lives ever, ever again. Three years is
enough with those people.
But again, those people can't raise him without us.
It's a tough, tough, tough, tough, tough place to even think about. So I
won't. Nothing will change in the next month so I'll just end that here.
I can say my life would be very empty without the crowded table.
Entanglements being what they are, it's not a bad way to go about being useful.
I'm not meant for a life of ease. I've been given much too much strength for
I don't have much to say but I want to write something. So here goes.
It is said no one operates without an agenda. This is unbelievably true and not an indictment on anyone's character. My motivation, for most things, stems from a deep inner restlessness and obsessive nature.
2. Anger management
I've recently learned how to call up anger, channel it through my muscles and lift some very heavy weights. This is so very useful.
The Crossfit games in an annual competition that has three parts. The first is the Crossfit Open. This means everyone who does any sort of crossfit can do 5 workouts and compare themselves to the rest of the world doing the same work out. I did an intermural open last year where we formed teams at our gym and competed against each other. It was amazing! It begins in a month!
I look back on my workout journal and see how far I've come from last year. I lift 3 times the weight I use to. This is especially true with thrusters. I use to do them at 15 lbs. Which is the 'girl bar' without any weights. TODAY. NOW. I do them at 65 lbs. BOOM!
Behold! The thruster!
My weakness is box jumps. This is me conquering the 20 in box. It's a giant effin leap. It's more mental than anything. Working on them though. BTW. Both feet should be hitting the box at the same time and I should be more upright. Again, this is my weakness and I'm working on it.
Last year I jumped on a 10 inch platform. So improvement is noted.
4. And lastly, foster care
Things are humming along with the two bonus kids of ours. It's been three years now. The bio moms are out of the running for reunification. Family will take in one, family will hopefully take in another. If not, they've identified adoptive resources a.k.a. foster families that can adopt. We've chosen not to adopt. It has been a long road but my guilt about this has all but dissolved.
I think about the kids' stories. How it doesn't go smoothly. They don't say, "My mommy and daddy fell in love, got married and had us." They say, "When I was four I went to live at my grandma's and my mom went to jail. I live at the Halls some times." Or, they say, "When I was four my mom went to the hospital and I went to live with the Halls." Then they both say, "My mom didn't get better and now I'm living with my other grandma/auntie. They're adopting me and now I'm staying there forever."
This transition from our care to others is the next step. I'm not sure how it's going to go but it's a step wise transition. First hour long visits, then overnights. Then week long stays. Then permanent.
I wonder if memories of us will fade like all memories do for kids. I wonder if our bonus kids will remember anything of our years together. Or will they just ask, "Didn't I stay with a family that had a pool once?" ...."What was that about?"
Been fostering low these last two years now. Two placements. One is on and off. One is here for the duration. It's been a crazy experience to say the least but nothing prepared me for the sheer longevity of it.
Nothing happens. Literally each month goes by without much changing. There is no checklist and things are done. There is no timeline. Things seem to drag forever. Foster daughter's mom is doing about the best she'll ever be doing. We've made peace with that. She's not an addict, a child hurter or a monster. She's a mom that struggles but when she doesn't struggle she's decent enough.
She's not struggling now. We are though. We.are.tired.
Our third child came within months of our foster kids and then we had five. Again, that was 2 years ago. Through a lot of prayers and tears and me want want want wanting...I have finnally accepted the reality that we can't be their parents. Like Mr. Hall said, "They have parents. They need to go back to their parents." I realized that my need to adopt was truly clouding my vision. And I realized Mr. Hall is correct.
At this point we are exactly where we were a year ago. Foster daughter spends more time with mom than with us. As it should be. We still have her a few days a week and the ensuing aftermath that comes with that.
They say foster kids' behaviors (tantrums, screaming, ripping wall paper, screaming) gets worse as the reunification comes closer. They are correct. It's a lot of manage this type of thing. It's not normal tantrum. Someone called it 'a behavior storm'. That person is correct.
I feel for my foster daughter. She wants to go home. We want her to go home. She can't though. Foster care is not a checklist and done deal. Mom has to prove SUSTAINED non struggling. I have no idea how long sustained is. I don't envy the social worker who has to quantify that sort of thing.
Part of me thinks the birth mother is done too. Which would make her work harder than she ever has to get her kid back. But who knows? This is the exact same spot she was in a year ago. She was two weeks from getting her daughter back. Then she completely unhinged. She knew enough to not pick her daughter up that day. We were a safe place to put her daughter that day.
That is what Mr. Hall wants to be. He never wants to be done being a safe place for these kids. No matter what, he wants to be there for our foster daughter. Even after she's long gone from our house. That to me is amazing.
So. I need to focus on what I can do.
Which is lift heavy weights, count weight watchers points, accept God's plan of stasis. Pray and put myself inside a tiny child who feels a million times more frustrated than I ever will.
I heard about tough mudder years ago. At the time, I wasn't sure the people who did tough mudder and I were the same species. But I started to dream. I started to want.
I would run into folks who had done this and I would ask them millions of questions about it. I can't remember any of them saying, "you should do this." When people ask me questions I don't encourage them. Maybe I should.
But after the want--- years passed on. My want never passed.
Then I had my last baby making me a mother of five (three our own, two foster kids). A month post birth, while I was still nursing, I joined weight watchers. I was determined to get healthy once and forever.
And I stumbled onto crossfit and said out loud, "I'm going to do the tough mudder". It was a bold but quiet peep of a statement. It caught in my throat and startled me. I was determined though.
So, let's begin shall we?
I don't believe there is a way to train for the tough mudder. You need to be ready though. Be strong, be fit, be badass and work hard. That's what I did for a year prior. There was a lot of crossfit involved.
The event itself is 12 mud laced miles of running, climbing, bashing, running, hills, reaching, swimming, climbing, MORE EFFING RUNNING, hills, berlin walls and running. Go ahead and google the photos. They're pretty accurate.
These yellow things have electricity in them.
Grabbing stangers in places you normally just grab your husband.
WOOPS!! SORRY DUDE!!
These monkey bars are fun. I got on one ring and promptly feel into the water.
IT WAS AN AMAZING DAY WITH MY HUSBAND AND I COULDN'T WALK FOR THREE DAYS AFTERWARD.