It wasn't two weeks or even three that we received our placement call. It was several weeks, over a month (March 22nd), and a puppy named Suki St. James later. Waiting for calls and trying to breath and speak around the softball–sized lump in my throat seems to be some sort of pattern in my life. The call came and I could picture the little duo, sister and brother, in the waiting room at the DSHS office. I could picture them waiting and worried and confused and frightened. I called Jason and we talked about whether or not we should accept a four and a half year–old girl and a one and a half year–old boy. There was no solid answer of yes or no, no crystal ball telling our future. There was just the feeling of if you don't say yes then what is this all about? I called back and said yes. Then I drove into Vancouver to the office and picked up two beautiful children and buckled them into carseats and drove away for home. But before we left the little room at the DSHS office a social worker said "How would you like to go spend the night at Geri's house?" Our girl looked up at him, shook her head decisively, "No. I don't think that would be purfek for me." She said she loves painting rocks. I said I had paints and rocks. She shrugged and began to help gather their things. She said she loved carrots and ice-cream. I said I had good news! We had both waiting for us at home. We pulled into our garage, unbuckled the carseats, and the kids flew inside at a full sprint before I could get the car doors closed.
The chaos had begun.
She talks about her mama and all the people she loves in her "world". She asks why I can't just be in her world too? Why we can't just all be in her world together. These are good questions and another thing difficult to explain to a beautiful four and a half year–old brain. She's decided that she loves us and our families and all her friends she has met, but she's ready to go back to her home and be with her mama or live with her favorite great aunt she gets to visit regularly. Another difficult thing for explaining, and for living. She's bright and she sings all day long and seeks any opportunity to make a new friend. Her eyes are soulful and her heart is huge... even if she battles endlessly to love her brother and give him a hard shove simultaneously throughout the day.
He calls everyone mama and likes his newest diapers with lions on them. He growls at every diaper change. I don't know if this has more to do with recognizing the lions (this would be the first and only animal sound connection) or recognizing the diaper change. He adores bananas and has the best giggle in the world. He whines and cries and throws wild fits and, in the middle of it all, he can burst into laughter, then pick up where he left off in the fit without a blink of an eye. He is mischievous and an escape artist. He loves hugs and human connection. He shares all his food with Suki. They both get in trouble. They both continue to do this every meal time, and call me crazy, I think they both equally look forward to it.
Life is harder with little people. Going anywhere and doing anything... harder. All those mom jokes and no sleep jokes and feeling like being pecked like a chicken all day jokes are suddenly much funnier. But please, pretty please, don't tell me "now you know how it feels to be a mom!" This is not a true statement. Not at all. Now I know how it feels to be a foster mom. A foster mom to these two specific children. And these are wildly different things. Both frightening, both crazy, both relatable. But very different.
Are they doing ok? Do was start our almost five year–old in school this year or hold her back? Is it really our decision? How do we even begin that process? Are we working with the almost two year–old with his words enough? Did you hear that? He just said "apple" "water" "banana" "welcome"!? I think he just said apple! Should she be writing her name before she goes to school? Should they fight as much as they do? Isn't this a normal sibling thing? Should they play so rough? They play so rough! Should they be as strong as they are? I think they're making each other stronger through all the wresting and escaping and jumping and sprinting and screaming and whirling. Have I lost myself? Is this Groundhog Day? Are we doing ok?
There wasn't an instant or immediate supernatural attachment. For the first while there was mostly fear and struggle to figure out how to deal. We both kind of expected this. We keep in our mind that this is a temporary placement, maybe that's why attachment was indeed not immediate. Maybe we were putting up a bit of a wall to protect everyone involved... or so we thought. After two months I heard myself call her my daughter, "my foster daughter", as I scheduled a dental appointment. And my heart smiled. Then I heard her voice, the sweetest of all the voices, singing our bedtime songs to her little toys. Then our little man squealed and ran at me for a giant hug and giggle... after I had only been gone for a minute.
And I think we all feel our hearts growing in size each day. Bigger and bigger. To hold all the hard. To hold all the love.