Yesterday I picked Teapot up from her respite placement after my 8-day break. (I use the term "break" loosely, as I do indeed have 3 other minor children who have trouble wiping their bottoms on their own).
As I pulled up, she tore out the front door with her respite foster mom close behind. "MAMAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!" she screamed. She nearly bowled me over with her excitement, and at that exact moment I felt a huge shrill of guilt screaming in the back of my brain.
This kid, this baby, hugging your knees? This child was the one you weren't so looking forward to coming back and picking up?
I picked her up and she kissed my face and hugged my neck so tightly I saw stars for a minute.
"Go hoooooooooooooooooome?" she whispered, hot little breath in my ear.
"Yes, Baby, Go home! Nina (my mom) is at home. Do you want to see her?"
and on and on it went.
She fought with Asher over a Dunkin' Donut particle left over in the back seat, and Phoebe giggled and pointed at her the whole way home: "T, T, T!"
Of course the re-adjustment period at home was a little brutal. She was wild and crazy and swinging her arms and hugging everyone and asking me for an orange, and then another one, and then another.
"Your bottom's going to hurt, T-Bird, and then Granny will report me because your bottom has such a big rash!"
"GRAAAAAAAAAAAANNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" she yelled.
and more hugs.
So, I guess I am realizing that just because a foster care placement is hard doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.
I am realizing that, in her little world, I am her constant - her stability.
When she wakes up in the morning, she calls to me from her room.
When she goes to sleep at night, I am the last face she sees.
That has to matter.