I've been realizing this week that we wrapped up our pre-placement 8 weeks ago. In other words, the kids have been home for 8 weeks. For nearly two weeks prior to placement, we were with them full-time at a cottage in their area, so we have been together for nearly 10 weeks without intermission. Geoff has been back to work for 7 weeks, which marks the beginning of our "new normal".
My stomach dropped a little (and is still recovering) after confirming those numbers. One thing I can't argue with is how incredibly quickly time passes. Each day (even a rough one) is over before I know it. Each week closes in the blink of an eye. Any fears of time dragging on have not been validated. At the same time, I can't really say this feels comfortably like "my" life yet.
When I note rough days, I mostly mean rough for me! The kids certainly have their moments, and some days have more moments than others. Still, for the large part, I see those moments as being generally typical for their ages. Generally. Some things certainly have looked adjustment-related (things as simple as getting used to a new routine, rule, or fact of life - like having bedrooms on the second floor, or things a bit more complex - like figuring out who calls the shots and how to communicate respectfully and effectively), but for the most part, fairly mild in comparison to what could be the case. Sometimes the "big kid" stuff our boys picked up in their first home is amusing (e.g., various slang terms), and sometimes not so much (e.g., various slang terms...plus "noogies", "wedgies", and condescending expressions like "I tollld you...", and forms of "actually..." such as, "actually, I wanted...", or "actually, you forgot..."). My rough days don't necessarily coincide with increased kid-related stresses. It seems a bit random. Some days I drift through calmly with nary a raised eyebrow, and others consist of constant (too often losing) battles for any semblance of maturity and poise. Yesterday, I calmly addressed a broken baby gate/damaged wall issue resulting from careless behaviour and disregard of house rules, and coped poorly with minor nuisances. Random.
In some areas, I do notice increased mutual comfort and positive shifts in relationship. I was realizing yesterday that I would be jealous if I had to send baby girl off to daycare, and have others spending all that quality time with her instead of me. I do think it's been easier to integrate baby girl into my identity and feel like she's just part of the picture. The eldest still feels like a bit of a stranger at times, and as I may have written previously, is very watchful of my every move, which can feel stifling and unnerving. Baby girl reminds us daily that she is moving from baby to toddler at astonishing speed. New words, mannerisms, skills, and behaviours emerge constantly. Along with increased intensity in her tantrums, she is also being more overtly affectionate, so at least there's a balance! I marvel at how one can instruct a barely 16 month-old to go find her baby & stroller in the toy room, and have her toddle off, only to return moments later with the aforementioned items. Lute (at just-turned-4) can remember long series' of instructions, and carry them out (although continues to inconsistently count to 3...hmm...). Kitch can be a bit of a free spirit, easily distracted, and is so cute when ignoring direction sometimes that it can be hard to determine if he really didn't hear me, or if he simply prefers to continue playing away...at other times, he makes it quite clear how he feels about complying (for better or for worse).
One interesting aspect of public adoption is the ongoing contact and relationship with our social worker. Overall, since we have a good relationship with her and get lots of validation and extremely positive feedback, we appreciate her input, and find it useful to have someone available for questions and information. At other times, it would be nice to think we are just a "regular" family, all on our own! It feels a bit cumbersome to remember to inform her about things like getting a new vehicle, so that all the information about make/model/year/etc. can be added to the case notes and file. We also have to call in for more "serious" injuries - anything that might require stitches, say, or that "looks" nasty.
Ok, so at two months, there is a fair bit that I feel good about. The kids really do seem to be transitioning well. I am SO thankful for how the dogs have transitioned as well (this was one of my big worries)! So far, we have managed to do many of the things we would have done without children, which makes us feel like we can basically go on with the familiar things of life (and we did get out to dinner alone this week, thanks to Geoff's sister, niece, & nephew minding the kids, and our social worker's motivational input - the kids, by the way, did great having us go out for a few hours). While I will welcome the day when I can honestly be enthusiastic about having handed my life over to three kids, I could be in FAR worse shape - I enjoy many moments, continue to see them as great kids, and look forward to seeing who they turn into as they grow up.
Over the past couple of months, we have attended a family wedding, gone to a theme park, enjoyed dinner with friends, attended downtown festivals, gone to church, enjoyed family gatherings, attended music class, met up with friends & family for splash pad adventures, gone shopping (Wal-Mart, alone, with three kids, was an air-conditioned blessing in the heat we've been having in these parts), (finally) done a craft, and gone camping (more than once, at our trailer...including one hot overnight with no power after a thunderstorm).
That said, I am at the point where regular bouts of restlessness are hitting. I realize how quickly the coming months will pass as well, and although we have a fairly consistent routine, there are some components we haven't introduced yet. We do night-time Bible stories, but I really want to to do family devotions at dinner (and dive into some of the "Kids of Integrity" materials - free, online). I want to help the kids engage in more creative and imaginative play, building, and crafting...and find time for more reading (other than just at bedtime). We have been getting out about twice during the week (in addition to weekend events), but I still haven't checked out any library programs, cultural activities (other than the pow-pow we attended), or other summer-time events in the area. I also need to start thinking about any fall programs I might attend with the younger two, while Lute heads off to JK for a couple of mornings a week (most likely - long story, and worth a post all to itself). Around the house, I am craving some crafting time of my own, along with a concerted effort on the weedy, weedy gardens and the "catch-all" front porch office/crafting area (necessary if I am actually going to start crafting and mending again). I have been reading (for pleasure and parenting), and keeping up with photo uploads, but have numerous computer projects (e.g., adoption announcements, life book text writing before doing the actual books, photo organization & ordering) and other things of fairly high importance on my "to-do" list. I would also dearly love to have professional photos taken of our little (some people say "large" - really?) family during our first summer together.
Anyway, forgot to grab the baby monitor from my bedroom earlier, so should likely see if baby girl is up yet. The boys must still be sleeping (oh yes - hooray - forgot to mention that they have all been napping daily at the same time)! I do have a few pictures for you, but they are not wanting to upload at the moment, so stay tuned (still not sure whether or when I will post facial photos, for one or two reasons, but have some back shots I am happy to share).