grunge filter

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the line at a local dairy farm/ice cream establishment, I looked back at the nearly 15 people in our party and thought about the strangeness of my particular life. Birth family, adopted family, foster family, and some extra non-official children that we never really asked for yet can't quite seem to not love like our own to boot. Kids from 18 months to 20 years old, and I'm not quite sure what brought this woman who started her adult life insistent on only three children and fairly attached to her 1950's American dream view of how families are created and how they behaved to this place.

We sat later, in a row, on the farm wagon tour: myself, my kids' big sister's adoptive mom, their birth mom, their big sister, and then all of my kids....and my littlest was passed from person to person to person, affectionate towards every person in the line. The women bonded by being moms to the same kids, the children bonded by familial bonds that they don't seem to question whether or not they live in the same house.

Not that this was all rainbows and unicorns. Obviously not. There was pain underneath this whole family fun day, for sure. There are kids who are struggling through homelessness and learning to be adults in a world stacked against them when they've never been given the skills they need to navigate it. There are mamas whose choices have taken them a dark, dark road, with permanent scars to bear from those years. There are mamas who have struggled to make their families whole and healthy through the hard road to parenthood that they've chosen. There are little children with a lifetime's worth of pain and trauma in their little bodies. Our day may have appeared rosy from the pictures, but for those of us involved, there's always a grunge filter applied.

I've spent the rest of this week anxiously waiting for a caseworker call. I have no idea how court went last week. I have no idea what their case plan is, and what my part will be in that plan. Little Man settles in further, and every day that passes is a step up in difficulty. As he gets more comfortable, we see more and more evidence of the trauma he's been through. As he gets more comfortable, the harder it will be on him when we start visits with his mama. I want them to call. I want to know what my life is going to look like once the case plan starts for real. I told Wendell that today, and he says with this existential air, "Whatever it's gonna look like, it's gonna be nothing like we thought it was going to be when we got married seventeen years ago."

He's right. Our first date was 20 years ago this Thanksgiving. Twenty years, and I feel like we've barely started. Aren't most people established by now? Don't they have their big house and their family firmly in hand and their careers figured out and their crap together? I can't keep my house clean right now, and once again this week, I'm being humbled by my need for a friend to bring an evening meal. I don't even know how many children I'll have next week, much less what my schedule will hold. My kids have some semi-public issues, and I can't remember the last time I went to the grocery without it becoming somewhat of a spectacle.

But then today, I'm sitting on my couch writing this post while Little Man runs with a face-splitting smile towards my biggest boy, and my littlest girlie points to the big sister that she doesn't even realize isn't actually her biological sister in the picture on the wall, talking about when we saw her last. I scroll through the pictures of last Sunday's family visit on my phone, and I'm thinking that there's nothing in this world - no big house, no amount of well-dressed, perfectly behaved children who only ever belonged to me, no retirement account, no security about what my schedule will look like next week...there's none of that stuff that I would trade for what I have.

It's dirtier (quite literally. you haven't seen my house lately) than I imagined.
It's more beautiful than I ever imagined. 

 photo credit: It was here via photopin (license)
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