Monday, April 18, 2011

One Less Bell To Answer, One Less Egg To Fry...

Well, most of you are probably too young to remember that song (the one in my title here). For those of you who are old enough... Well, you know what it means.

Last Thursday night my foster son moved out. He’s almost 22 years old now and in college. He first came to our home when he was 16, so he’s been part of the family for nearly six years. He lived in our home for longer than he’d lived any other place in his life.

If he’d moved out just because he was older now and wanted to go out and be independent – well, I would have argued with him that it would be better to finish school first, but I would have respected his decision. I’ve had other kids grow up and move out, and they’re all still part of the family. This was a different kind of situation, though. A whole new experience for me, frankly. He moved out because – according to him – he simply “doesn’t want a family” and doesn’t want me to be his mom anymore. Not because I’ve done him wrong in any way, and not because this family has been anything but good to him, but just… Well, frankly, none of his explanations made any sense. Not to me, not to the other kids in the house, not to any of my older kids who have moved out. So, I have to say that honestly I don’t know why he really left.

I am stunned and hurt, as I was closer to this young man than I’ve ever been to any of my other kids. We had a history together going back to days when he was a drug-addicted teenage high school drop-out. I worked harder and more intensely with him than I’ve ever had to with any other kid, and we had a bond – at least I thought we did – that was very special. As recently as four weeks ago he was telling me how I’d had more influence on his life than any other person, how much respect he had for me, and how I was his best friend in the world. Last week he told me that I didn’t matter to him anymore – it was nothing personal, but he’d simply “changed his mind” about wanting to be any part of a family.

This is going to be a short post because I’m still processing these recent events in my mind, and for now I don’t even know what to say about it all. My head is spinning. I’m both hurt by what he’s done and said and also worried about his well-being. I’ll write more later, after I’ve had some time to think.

For now, I am mostly just sad. Sad and just processing, trying to wrap my mind around this. I don’t know what else I can say. L

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For Caitlynn

To give this post context for those who won’t know what it’s about, I will tell you that Caitlynn is a 15-year-old girl with whom I have a long history (going back to the day she was born, in fact – an event for which I was actually present), although I haven’t seen her for many years. Yesterday, Caitlynn posted the following as a note on her Facebook. My response was too long for the comment section allowed on the note, so I’ve posted it here, below this copy of her own note, and provided her a link.

Here is Caitlynn’s Facebook note:

by Caitlynn [Redacted] on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 6:07pm

A four letter word that holds so much meaning.
Have you ever sat down and really thought about what it means?
I have.
I've lived a life that I hope no one has to see.
A life of drugs and abuse.
No place to lay down at night, no food to eat: nothing.
No mother to hold you close when you cry over things you can't control.
No one to care if you cry at all.
I used to look out the window and want to fly away.
I wanted to fly far away from my problems,
from the people I stayed with, from all my fears, my pain, my regrets.I stopped dreaming for a long time, having nothing to dream about.
My nightmares got worse, more real, more vivid.
There were times when all I wanted to do was die. No one would care, right? No one around to give a damn.
This is the past, now is my present, and I work for a better future.
I think about how we live from paycheck to paycheck.
How I feel like I'm all alone when I walk the halls and see these kids act like just that. Kids.
I feel reclusive because I can't see myself ever acting like that, so I surround myself in schoolwork and teachers.
I get called a kiss up for being around the people I feel like I have more in common with, even if our pasts are different
on massive levels.
I think about this feeling of drowning that I live with when I get news that say we owe more than we can afford.
I'm drowning in troubles, problems, pain, overwhelming things that I can't fix but can't help but worry about.
I can't swim fast or hard enough to reach the surface, I can't breath, I can't stay above the water.
Someone help me.
Tell me I'm not alone.
Tell me everything will end up alright sometime soon.
My tears stain my fingers as I wipe my cheeks, washing away the evidence of my pain.
I put on a happy face to everyone but myself when I'm alone, so they never know what I really feel.
I think about what I want for my future.
I have a drive, a determination to do my best, to succeed in ways my mother didn't.
I try hard in school, keeping my grades up to a point that I can be proud of myself for once.
I want to go to college, have a career, make the money I didn't have a child.
I want to know, when I get there, that if I won't end up where I was at one time.
Homless, staying with a girl I really couldn't stand because she was so much younger than me, even if she was a year older.
Knowing my mom chose drugs and a man over me, even though she tried to find work.
She has her regrets of how our life in Las Vegas, NV ended, as do I.
I know she thinks she has ruined me by what she has done, forcing me to grow up and learn to take care of myself.
I don't know if she has.
I don't think I was meant to be a kid for as long as the others I go to school with.
I think I was meant to grow up, to be independent, to be on my own, no matter how unhappy it makes me.
I want to find someone that can balance me out, that I know won't leave, that I can feel... safe with.
I don't think I can find that someone in high school.
I don't want to "date around" as people call it.
Someone, please tell me I'm not alone in this line of thinking.
Tell me.... that I'm not wasting my years thinking this way.
Someone, please help me dry my tears.
Help me get over the past, help me not second geuss my decision to stay on one path to the future, instead of stopping and enjoying the time "I'll never get back."
I feel like I'm drowning, I can't stay above the surface of this water, the pressure is undbearable.
I'm drowning, someone please.
Tell me I'm not alone.
Revive me.
I'm not comlaining. I love that I'm alive, healthy, and have my mother with me. But why do I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders?

And here is my reply:

Caitlynn - Here is what you don't know.

For years, when someone would get word about Caitlynn, phones would ring all over Phoenix.

Every Christmas, your picture is on display in this house with all the other kids' pictures, and everyone who knows this family at all knows who Caitlynn is.

There was always someone who cared when you cried, you just had no way to know it and we had no way to tell you.

Outside the range of your own vision or hearing, people have fought. Fought with your mother, fought with people in your life, fought with the authorities, fought with each other. What to do to help Caitlynn? What is the best way?

People have driven many miles looking for you, trying to intervene, trying to reach out only to be turned back - you sometimes never having known they were even there.

You have steadily remained a part of a family that hasn't seen you in over a decade, whether you knew you were part of that family or not.

There's always been a place for Caitlynn, "just in case".

While you were wanting to "fly away", out there all the time were people who wanted just as badly to swoop you up. There are reasons why no one could, reasons you couldn't know about, but never because no one cared.

If you only knew how many times your name came up, how often you were talked about, how much you were worried about.

I don't know if everything will end up alright soon, but it will end up alright sometime. It has to. No one can be cared about so much for so long by so many and have it be for nothing.

I would refuse to believe that. You are special, and meant for special things. Someday, somehow, it will all come together for you.

You are loved. Always.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And It All Hits The Proverbial Fan...

I think perhaps my public commitment to blogging more often may have jinxed me. Since I did that, the [insert your favorite word for excrement] has really hit the fan around the ol’ homestead here. Within just a few days of my last post, my son was in critical condition and spent four days in the ICU, then was transferred to another hospital, where he remains as of now. It’s another one of those things I can’t talk about. However, I think it’s something I may go ahead and talk about soon. I am considering how to go about it, since it hardly seems like anyone can have even the slightest picture of my life recently without some discussion of this issue. To blog about my life and not talk about this borders on the ridiculous, because this matter has overtaken my world for the last few months.

At the same time, there’s been major drama going on at home with my college-age foster son. Major. The kind of stuff that has the potential to tear my family apart – not that we wouldn’t recover, but no one wants that to happen. Except, perhaps, my foster son himself. I guess it’s not fair to say he wants it to happen, but it is fair to say that he does not care how his actions and decisions impact the family. But right now – right at this current time – I will not allow my family to be torn apart. My son needs a cohesive and tight and supportive family unit to come home to from the hospital. And for that reason, I am battling my foster son and his decisions every step of the way. He can do as he pleases at some later time – he is, after all, a legal adult – but right now I’m pulling out all the stops to keep him in line. It’s all much more complicated than I have time to go into right now, but it’s an ongoing battle that I am determined to win. When my son comes home, it will be to a peaceful, unified family without drama. And I will play every card I have to make that happen.

With all of this going on, there was a period of time where I felt as though I’d collapse under the strain of it all. I did start to lose it. Went through a period of being very emotional, crying at the drop of a hat, losing sleep, etc. But then my foster son and I got into a very nasty argument, and that argument actually served as a challenge to me. The gauntlet had been thrown down, so to speak. I am not a weak person; I am a strong, adult woman who has been through many trials in life and I will not let this cause me to lose control. I looked at my office wall, where there hangs a tea towel that someone once sent me. It has words printed on it: “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.” And so I did. I straightened up my back, told myself, “There’s no crying in baseball” (some of you may get that reference and some may not – I understand this is not baseball – LOL), and got my second wind. Or maybe it’s my twenty-second wind, I don’t know. But I’m feeling strong right now and I will handle this. All of it. For my son, for my family, and for myself. I’m a tough gal. Sometimes I just have to remember that.

This is all I have time for today, but when I figure out how to approach certain subjects, I will tell more about them. In the mean time, the tough broad in me is taking over. I am woman, hear me roar. And all that jazz.