Amidst the New Year craziness, we are in our own sort of fresh start around here. Zucchini came home from the hospital yesterday, and we spent a quiet evening at home.
My head is still spinning in ten different directions. But, thanks to some amazing friends watching Pumpkin and Carrot for a few hours, I finally feel that my head and house are getting back in order.
I worry about what Pumpkin and Carrot are learning. Not just that it is okay to steal or break things, but how scary their big sisters HUGE emotions must be for them. The day after Christmas, when Zucchini was hospitalized, despite carrying him in the ergo, Pumpkin was wide awake until three a.m.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the post Trading What is Best for What is Good, and of course, Christine Moers (You still can’t lose Christmas). Was she on a downward spiral triggered by holiday stress? Absolutely. Did we handle things in the most therapeutic manner? Not our best. But, we are learning, too.
We planned to spend New Year’s as a family, staying overnight at another family’s house. Croi and I decided that was too much on the day she got out of the hospital. Because I’ve been “the bad cop” with her lately, I chose to stay home and build on some positive, uninterrupted time. It was the first New Year’s I haven’t spent with Croi in at least 14 years.
I’m not sure my brain can think ahead to a whole year, but I know what I am focusing on for the next few weeks.
*Thanks to Christine Moers, a fifteen minute rule for reacting to upsetting behaviors. Let us calm down first.
*More positive one-on-one time with Zucchini. New Year’s Eve, Zucchini said “We should have Mama and Zucchini day once a week!” (Full context: this was a minute after I okayed a ten pm New Year’s bedtime.)
*Separating my parenting style for each kid. The girls moved in about the same time, they share a room, and Zucchini is working to get some of her needs met that weren’t met when she was younger. It’s easy to group them together. One of us does bedtime with the baby, the other with the girls. Watching Carrot’s behavior over the past few days while Zucchini has been in the hospital is one of the most heartbreaking parts of this. She has been so much lighter. I want to give her more space to be five, and react to her more like she is five.
*I think it has been easier for Zucchini to feel a part of our family and get her early-childhood needs met because her brother and sister are here. It’s a lot easier to join in a family snuggle with your siblings than initiate one with your foster moms. Her siblings call us “mom” so it’s easier for her, as well. There is a reason her screams sound like her one year old baby brother’s. When I think about her as a scared little girl, I can react to her more like I comfort Pumpkin.
*What I should have written first–my relationship with Croi. This past week was very stressful for both of us, and we didn’t always remember that the other person was just as stressed as we were. No matter what happens with the kids, at the end of the day, and at the end of 18 years, I want her, laughing, by my side.