• The Opposite of Yelling

    I was sick this week. Throwing up throughout the night, curled up in fetal position at the base of the toilet, not sure how clean the bath mat is, I do not even care, I will never eat blue cheese in a salad again, SICK. Being sick as an adult is lousy. Being sick as a mom is just not fair. Usually, with a head cold or slight fever, we moms power through by tossing the child-wolves some technology, pouring some cereal in a bowl and calling it dinner, and announcing bedtime at 7pm. Not this go-round. Leaving my bed was…

  • To Johnny, on your 17th Birthday.

    Dear Johnny, I know this isn’t where you thought you would be at age 17. Still in the foster system, a day pass on your birthday, preparing to be shuffled around again, and then again and again. I know. As a child, you must have thought ahead to 17 and pictured your life very differently. Maybe you pictured a mom and a dad, a decorated bedroom, your face in pictures from family vacations hanging, collage-style, on a wall. I know that this isn’t where you thought you’d land. You were here for the day and we did presents and cake.…

  • An Unlikely Intersection

    Last week, a family asked about adopting my foster son, Johnny. A family. Adoption. This was a big deal for a sixteen year old foster kid who moved in with me last month because he had nowhere else to go and had every intention of aging out of the system as an orphan. I mean, wow. Before this news, I had been thinking an awful lot about my limitations. I am a single mom, I can barely manage a weekly load of laundry, and I am hours away from the supports Johnny had in place before me. I sometimes have…

  • Out of the Way, Mom.

    I had a moment recently. My son, Jax, and I had been in the car running errands for a few hours. I was singing along to the Beatles channel when Jax said, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Well, yeah, breakfast was a hurried cup of yogurt three hours ago so that’s reasonable. There is no shortage of food options in the strip-malled mecca of Scottsdale, and we chose Chipotle. We ordered, we got our food, we sat. We were finishing up and Jax got up to refill his soda. He took the lid off, said excuse me to me the man who was…

  • No License For You.

    Johnny’s doing really well. A few small hiccups, but hey, he’s a teen boy. Other than my house smelling like a locker room, it’s been pretty smooth sailing over here. He’s here as a kinship foster placement right now. We aren’t related, but because I have a significant relationship to him, I qualify. Kinship is fine, it works, but I want to get licensed as a foster parent. The services are better and the stipend would be helpful as my grocery bill has doubled and the teenager came with four garbage bags of clothes, three of which were too small.…

  • Welcome Home, Kid.

    A teenage boy is coming to live with me. Today. In eight hours, I will be an official foster parent. It’s been only a few months, but I have notes upon notes about my short experience so far with this child welfare system of ours. I can’t wrap my head around how we allow a child to fall through the cracks so frequently that he becomes invisible. How a child with no parents is surrounded by umpteen “service providers” paid for by the government, and yet, no one knows this kid or does anything to meaningfully help him. How we…

  • I’m Supposed to Be in the Creek

    Last week, I was in my favorite place in the world with my 15-person family. Every few years, we head to a ranch in the mountains of Colorado. We’ve been going here since I was a little girl, and there is truly no place I would rather be. I told my clients I was out, I let my phone lose its charge in my suitcase, and I swaggered around in cowboy boots all week. There is no better place for me to get my head straight. I spent a lot the week thinking about this kid I know, Johnny.* Johnny…

  • “See you next year?”

    I volunteered to go to an education meeting last week with a foster kid. This kid was in high school and not too interested in me at first. I didn’t blame him, I’d never met him before and this was a child who lives in a constantly-changing world with constantly-changing people. This was a kid who had no one, not a single person to show up for him to this school meeting. I was just another face. I did my job. He had decent services, a caring team, and for better or worse, he was at a school with a lot of kids like…

  • The Santa Exit Plan

    It was late-September of 2008 when we brought my son home from China, just two months before December and our sparkly, over-the-top, American-style Christmas season. My little boy had no idea what Christmas was. He had no idea who Santa was. Hell, he had no idea what protein was. Time, as it does, marched on and my son acclimated to Christmas quickly. The tree, the lights, the presents, the added traffic, the fact that I will not step foot in a Costco or Target during the month of December. I added in some religious overtones, some lessons about giving, and gave myself a pat on…

  • …Except That It’s Christmas

    This time of year, man. It’s stressful and chaotic and my annual intention of providing a Pinterest-perfect Christmas lasts about a day and a half until I decide that F-bombs will definitely help me assemble the gingerbread house. Ahhh, December. This year, the sparkly exterior strands of house lights worked perfectly on the ground, but after a four hour installation, decided to offer a non-working section of fifteen lights right over my front window.  And I have to tilt my head to the left, like I’m pondering something serious, for my Christmas tree to look straight. If the devil is…