Stress, Coping and Being Single

The last few days I’ve been dressing the girls in matching clothes. They think it’s fun and I think they look adorable, so why not! We did a trip to Target last week because a lot of their matching clothes are getting too small. It got me thinking about the last time I went on a matching clothes shopping spree and it was probably last summer… when things were really starting to fall apart for Sunshine. Her mom let me take her on a mini vacation with Princess and me, so I wanted them to have all matching outfits. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it is important to me to have them matching when things are stressful and when I realize I don’t have much control over my girls’ future. When they match, it feels like we are all one… one family. I can look at them and picture what it might look like to know my kids will be with me forever. It really is silly, but I think when we are stressed, we find weird ways of coping to get through the days.

In general I don’t think I’m good at coping with all the stress and unknowns of foster care. I’ve had so many people say to me “I don’t know how you do it” and I can honestly say, not very well. I am the queen of going numb and not letting myself feel deeply. Being a competitive athlete, I mastered this skill long ago. When I quit competing I let myself open up again, but it’s easy for me to go back to feeling numb. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel, or don’t have full on meltdowns when things are bad, but it does allow me to get through the day and still be an ok mom. Being single adds another layer to this because when the kids go to bed and I can finally let things out, I don’t have a spouse to vent to and go through this with. Yes, I choose this road but I really didn’t know how bumpy the road could be. So instead, I aimlessly scroll through Facebook or try to work. When I do get time with my foster/ adoptive mom friends they usually get an earful of my venting because they really are the only ones who understand… and I can’t even tell you how thankful I am for them.

Luckily, things have been going pretty smoothly with Princess’ case. I have a good relationship with her parents and literally, nothing has changed in the two years I’ve had her. But this week is court, and things can change. It’s bringing me back to the hard times with Sunshine’s reunification and I’m letting myself picture the same things with Princess. It’s dumb really… why am I letting myself think the worst when really the odds are in our favor that what is best for Princess will happen? I guess I would rather think the worst (because that’s what usually happens) and then if something good happens, I will be pleasantly surprised. I’m looking forward to the end of the week, when I will know that either it’s been continued (most likely IMO), rights are terminated or the parent/s services’ are reinstated. At the end of the week I will know what conversation I will have with her parents… no conversation will be easy but we have a good relationship where I can be open with them about what is going on. I’m so thankful for this because in a situation where I feel like I have no control, I can at least let Princess’ parents know where I stand on things and how I think we can work together to make the best life for Princess.

In the times that are stressful it always reminds me that we aren’t guaranteed a certain amount of time with the ones we love and in every day we should try to find some kind of joy. Whether it’s as simple as an “I love you” from your oh so challenging 4 year old or a fun outing with a lot of new happy memories, there is some kind of joy… there is something that helps me remember why I chose this bumpy road through foster care that is way bigger than me and my lack of coping skills.

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