Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Complex Guilt

Now at: http://peachstreetmissives.wordpress.com/

We've been skating along in a state of mild shock for the last week and a half. Grace left our house on the 7th. I wanted to give it a week before I posted anything, and then I got sick and we went out of town. So now I've let it sit for too long, and there are many emotions all crowding to be in the same place in my head at the same time.

The other day, maybe about 3 days after she left, I came home and Leonard was kind of monosyllabic and mopey. He was able to articulate to me that he felt sad and a little empty without the girls around. Even in the last few weeks when Grace was spending a lot of time at her mom's house, she would still come home from school, play with Ziggy and then go out. This broke up the monotony of the day at home and infused some life into the otherwise dull day.

It's almost like we're dealing with a mini-grief cycle. Of course she isn't dead... heck, she's less than 2 miles from our house. But she's not our responsibility and she's not in our home. The room is clean and empty and no terrible, terrible music is coming from behind her door. That feels somehow wrong.

She's come by the house a few times, but always when I'm at work. Leonard hasn't asked the "important" questions, like how things are going with her boyfriend or what kinds of rules the new lady has. The brief texts I've gotten from her seem like she's doing o.k.

I've been missing Jill a lot as well. She did sign the papers for board extension (YAY!!!) which means that she has the option to move on to an Independent Supported Living program or some such situation. She will continue to be supported until she's 21 as long as she meets certain criteria. I'm very excited about this, as it means she has a good chance now of getting through high school.

She also got a packet in the mail from a college the other day. This made me feel a little proud- it's a rite of passage for many American youngsters, and it's fun to think of something as normal as college mail happening to our Jill, whose life has been anything but normal.

In the meantime, we're collecting the bits of our lives that seem to be scattered all around. We're holding off on any major pronouncements or decisions about more foster kids until some loose ends are sorted out- probably not until mid-January at the soonest. So we're looking forward to a low key holiday season while we make those changes to the house and then sitting down and doing some hard analysis of our lives and what we have going on.

Here's the reality- foster kids are difficult. TFC foster kids are nearly 3 times more difficult. TFC fostering in the city means kids who have long term patterns of behavior and family dynamic that are not always healthy. It really is a full time job, and maybe not one we're able to take on right now. We have to get Leonard through school and me where I want to be.

But there's a lot we can do. We can do respite, which is desperately needed, and we can help agencies such as CASA. We can volunteer and advocate.

In the mean time, we can take a big, deep, breath.