see ya laters

September 2, 2015

two weeks and three days ago, we brought J to her new permanent home. back with her brothers and sister and a kinship placement that we feel is pretty safe. we dropped off our girl with suitcases, bags, and bins of stuff and said our “see ya laters”. and then we went and had Korean food. and it was all so good. and anti climactic.

some might call me stoic, others may see it as heartless- but i’m not a crier. when chris and I were dating in korea and he left me to come back to Arizona, I didn’t cry at the airport. he and I said our “see ya laters” in front of a bunch of our friends and my sister, and chris caught his plane and the rest of us got back into jon sim’s car and went home. and the talk of the town after that was that people thought I liked chris a lot, but after seeing my coolness in action at the airport, thought otherwise. but even though I didn’t cry, my heart was absolutely, undeniably, utterly broken.

so needless to say- I didn’t cry when I left our little girl, who we had loved and tolerated for over a year, with her family. I was scared for her. I have worried about her and thought about her daily. but I have not cried for her.

tonight, after not seeing her for two weeks and three days, the longest period of time that we have gone without seeing J in over a year, we got to take her out for dinner and ice cream.

it was amazing.

and strange and crazy.

and I even cried a bit.

I don’t remember going on a second date with chris, but driving to pick J up today felt a lot like a second date, where you aren’t entirely sure if the first date went well or not. did I make a good first impression? was there a connection there? would the other person be happy to see me or not? I had no idea what to expect. which is the truest tagline for foster parents if ever there was one.

so, we drove up to J’s house. I could already hear some hustling and bustling behind the screen door. J’s guardian opened the door, we hugged, said our hellos, and there was J, standing there, so shy, so pretty, and slowly she said: “mommy!”

I scooped her up in my arms even though it felt like she had punched me in the gut. I actually think I would have preferred for her to say: “hey you asshole! where have you been for the last two weeks?” so, she still thinks I am her mom, and that chris is her dad, and that we’ve left her at this other house, with these people she knows, but has- in her mind, never lived with before. I felt like such a negligent parent, even though I know in my right mind that I am not.

the power also went out at her house due to last night’s crazy storm. J’s guardian told me they haven’t had electricity since 7pm yesterday. yes it’s September, but it’s still SO HOT here. the thought of J sleeping in this HOT house, through absolutely no fault of her guardian’s, broke my heart. it made me so sad for her. everything makes me so sad for her.

things got worse at dinner. we had pizza and wings and were having a great time. as we were winding down and waiting for topher to finish his chicken wing, that he was practically making out with, J sat on chris’ lap and said: “dad. go home.” sucker punch number two. that wasn’t a “dad, why don’t you go home. get out of here” statement. it was a “dad. take me home.” statement. it was heavy. and chris, being the awesome man that he is, said: “let’s go have ice cream at mc donalds!”

this foster game is so strange. and I realize it’s not a game. it’s children’s lives. but it feels like a game sometimes. a game that has no rules and lots and lots of moving parts and chutes and ladders and winners and far too many losers.

we survived our first year in the foster care system. it was a glorious, and very taxing one. my kids were absolute rock stars during the whole thing and they, like me, did not cry when we dropped little J off that day. but it’s probably cause we tried to explain the rules of this game to them early on: children will come, we will love them, and there will come a time when they will go. and that’s what happened with J. but since she has left, mia has asked about her everyday, and at bed time or dinner when we talk about our favorite thing and our not-favorite thing from the day, she has said that she misses J. every day. for the last 17 days. lily has told her aunt elisa that when she sees pictures of J or sees her name written somewhere (topher had a math problem with J’s name in it! pretty amazing cause her name is not very common) that she gets choked up and misses J and sometimes even cries a bit. topher says he misses J on occasion. he’s a true dude. he doesn’t talk about his feelings much.

so, maybe none of us watsons are criers. but it doesn’t mean we aren’t feelers. we get all the feels. when we dropped J off at home after our night out, I was afraid she was going to cry, and cause a scene, and want to come home with us. but her family was just coming home and there was much excitement and talking, and she was back in her guardian’s loving arms, and we said our “see ya laters”, and got in the car and drove back home with dry, stoic eyes.

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