Friday, November 4, 2011

Enjoying our Time

One of the worries with a second child is that you are so busy juggling that you miss out on all the little things.  The common complaint about the lack of photos, for one.  Well, one of the silver linings in fostering is that I am so cognizant that this is fleeting, that I never know when our last week with Noodle will be, that I force myself to soak in the glory of his babyhood.

The little pink stork bite on the back of his neck.  The way his warm, peachy head feels on my cheek.  The way he bats the bottle like a kitten with a toy mouse.  The frantic, ticked off screams he makes every time we wrestle him into a warm coat.  The way he lights up for the Nugget.  The way his chunky baby thighs rest against my arm in his footie pajamas.  When I have tried to put him to bed 3, 4, 5 times, I stare at that little thigh and think, "It won't last," and that gives me the energy to keep going and savor each gentle bounce though my arms cramp.

"We are enjoying our time with him," is my frequent reply to everyone who asks how it's going.  More like savoring it, eating it up, but that sounds too creepy to say out loud.

I bought Noodle a good suitcase today, another tip we learned in training.  So many foster kids, they said, have to say goodbye to everything they know carrying all their worldly belongings in a ripped garbage bag.  I carry that image in my head, and it haunts me.  I know times are tough and foster families already give so much, but what message does that send even the tiniest child?  Filling that suitcase brought the first tears to my eyes since he was placed with us, a mini preview of how hard it will be not to be able to watch him grow up.  But it will be a tangible gift for him, something he can touch and feel and know that we cared enough for him to provide a cheerful rolling blue case to protect his clothes and his treasures.  It helps me feel more like I am sending him off prepared for his next adventure.

I started a lifestory book for him on Shutterfly and hope I will have enough notice to finish and print it before he goes.  I don't know if his family will pitch it, hoping to blot out the painful memory of his separation from them, but I hope they will keep it for him, let him know that there are others out there who love him.  I feel like maybe this is a tiny peek into understanding the emotions a birthmom might go through, wanting a child to know their love was and is real and true, even if the time spent together was fleeting.

We have friends who tell us that they are keeping their fingers crossed that he'll get to stay forever.  I cannot even go there right now.  I have to repeat in my head that Noodle is going home, that we get to care for him for just awhile, but we can love him forever.

To all the parents who complain about the children growing too fast, who are struggling with a tough phase (myself included), remember that it is an honor and a privilege to witness it.

2 comments:

  1. This reminds me of a situation we encountered at daycare. One of the teachers was visibly upset one day and I asked if everything was OK (before I left my son with her!). She said it was, she was just frustrated. There is a child that is routinely brought in with inappropriate (as in weather-wise) clothes and who is always sick. This child has a teen mother, and I don't fault her for her age, since she was a product of a teen mother (and it seems to be a few generations back). But you can see she isn't exactly certain what she's doing. Anyway, it's apparent by the child's behavior and withdrawn ways, that she does not get much attention. (Where I was going with this - I did have a point) I told the teacher "Look, you can't control what does or doesn't happen at home. I know you're frustrated (she'd giver the child one of her daughter's sweatshirts so she wouldn't be cold), and rightfully so. But what you CAN do, is give her as much love and attention and care while she's here, which is the bulk of her day."

    So, I say, give Noodle as much of your love and attention as you can. He needs it. You can't control what did, or will happen. But for right now, you're his whole world. And all you can do is be the best world for him while you can. Like all of your friends and family, I'm sure, I hope that Noodle will become a permanent fixture in the Johnson house at some point. And if that does happen, you'll have settled him in nicely with all of your love and care. If that happens to be only a short time, at least you'll know that you were able to make a difference in his life and be part of the love he has in his heart. If he does return to a family member, and even if they do discard the material things you've provided, you will know that part of who he becomes in life, was shaped by you, and the love, care and affection you showed him.

    I always say, a child can never have enough people that love him/her.

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  2. I guess what I forgot to say is that nothing in life (for any of us) is guaranteed. We should all hug our kids a little tighter, laugh a little louder and live life like there's no tomorrow. You never know when today will be your last day to ______________.

    You are living that life, and you're a reminder to the rest of us that we need to do it too!

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