Respite and Relaxation

They have this blessed thing in foster care called respite care.  When we signed up with our agency, we told them we would do long-term family care, emergency care, or respite.  Our girls are with us as long-term care (meaning more than a few days), so we are currently not available to provide respite or emergency care because we now have no more room.  But now, the agency encourages us to take advantage of respite care.

Big Daddy was very adamant about us not using this service.  (Easy for him to say–he’s at work all day and taking 3-hour bike rides in the evenings while I’m cleaning up pee accidents and managing mini-meltdowns!).  His logic was that we would never have sent our own kids to a stranger for a weekend.  I could understand his logic, and I know that these poor kids have been shuttled around enough in their young lives.  I had no intention of sending them anywhere until they were comfortable here and knew that we’d be back for them.  But I realized also that anyone selected as respite caregivers had been thoroughly screened (as we were) and had clearances.  Our agency seems very stringent in its requirements.   Also, we had grandma and pap-pap to give us a break with our kids, and we could find other suitable non-family members to babysit our own kids.  My mom is 20-some years older now with a heart condition and could never keep up with my sweet three-year old, my dad is no longer with us, and we are only allowed to leave these kids with people that have clearances.  My boys fill in enough when I have to run out here and there, but Youngest Son is now back in college and Oldest Son just stops by to do his laundry sometimes between his work gigs all across the country.

I guess foster parents frequently use respite care early, when the “honeymoon period” is over.  I’ve heard this term often since being involved in foster care.  At first, the kids are adjusting and maybe on their best behavior, the parents are just so excited and happy to finally have these young lives in their home, and everything is hunky-dory.  The kids’ case manager even asked me early on if I needed a respite weekend.  We were fine and I said no.  These kids are pretty normal kids and although they’ve kept me very busy (have I mentioned that I’ve lost about 8 pounds since they’ve been here despite the fact that I’ve done hardly any formal exercise AND have eaten more fast food than normal), I haven’t really needed the mental health vacation that I’m sure some of the more saintly foster parents, who are brave enough to take kids with serious problems, would need.

But I did need a break.  Bonus Baby is in preschool now, but when she’s home, she requires constant supervision.  We’re totally in love with her, but she’s very demanding and likes a lot of attention.  The only thing she’ll sit still for momentarily is the one very irritating episode of Barney (God help me!) about bugs which is on On Demand until the end of August.  The few times she’s been quiet are the times I found her slathering my insanely overpriced Bath and Body Works sunscreen all over her tiny body, or pulling all the diaper wipes out of the container.  Big Sis has finally realized that she may be here longer than she thought she would be, and sometimes lashes out at us in frustration.  Although in our heads we understand the conflict she is going through, it really burst my bubble the first time she told us she doesn’t want to be here.  Her first loyalty is with her birth family, which is normal, but we’ve tried so hard to make sure she has fun that it still stings a little when she gets mouthy or says hurtful things.  I know it’s not about us, but hey, we’re still human.

So, although respite is not meant to be used as a babysitting service, when my best friend from middle school wanted to have me, hubby, and my mom over for dinner and drinks at her home with another friend from high school this Friday night, and Youngest Son needed our help moving the rest of his furniture into his big dorm room on Saturday, I decided to take advantage of respite.  I had a wonderful time with my friends on Friday (even though my friend seemed hell-bent on putting that 8 pounds back on me with her wonderful dinner and appetizers), enjoyed every moment of my three-mile walk in scorching heat on Saturday and spent way too much time sleeping in and even taking a nap.  I tried to redeem my decadence by using the steps instead of the elevator to carry Youngest Son’s lighter-weight possessions to his 4th floor dorm room.

We’re picking the girls up at 5 today.  I hope they had a good time.  When I dropped them off, the usually clingy Bonus Baby was too engrossed in all the new toys and baby dolls in the pretty girly room to give me much more than a quick hug good-bye.  Bonus Child chatted to me the whole way there and gave me a big hug before I left.  When she’s not trying to reject us, I know she actually kind of likes us and despite her Dr. Jeckyll moods, she does have a good time.  I can tell by her girly giggles and when I hear her singing along with the Justin Bieber videos (God help me again!) that we’ve found online.

I’m just hoping these respite parents are still as excited about having the girls  visit them as they seemed to be when we first got there.  We know all about those honeymoon periods.  I’m hoping they’ll be more than willing to take them in November for the high school reunion weekend.  Future daughter-in-law has offered to babysit that weekend–but she’s a busy girl.  Besides, there’s an open bar and I know I will not feel like waking up at 7:00 am the morning after to “Mommy!  I want to watch Barney!”  Ugh!

16 Responses to “Respite and Relaxation”

  1. 1 paula August 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    You are an amazing bonus mom to the little bonus babies. Everyone needs a break even super moms! When you have your mini reunion you will all be refreshed and ready to go another round with Barney! Good luck with that btw…Yikes I remember those days too well. LOL I think I managed to live through the Barney videos by downloading them onto the computer and a pair of headphones for youngest son….aughh…I think that song is creaping into my consciousness as we speak…!!! ACK!

    • 2 les August 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      haha. Thanks, Paula. I thought I escaped the Barney scourge since my boys LOVED Sesame Street and were really too old by the time Barney became a hit! Oh, well, you never know where life is going to lead you…

  2. 3 Cyndi August 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Yikes, I don’t miss Barney at all!!

    I wish respite care was available to all parents! What a genius idea. We all need breaks.

    Glad you had a nice one!

  3. 5 "J" August 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    1. i can quote, word for word, the barney bugs episode.
    and 2. i believe mr hyde was the bad one..just lettin ya kno 🙂

  4. 7 Robin August 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I thought Barney went to jail or something. Guess that’s an urban legend.

    You’re awesome, and no less awesome for using a babysitter, because that’s really what it is. I don’t even understand parents who never use “respite” (babysitters). My brother is one of them. I think he’s nuts, and I tell him so! Everyone needs a break from little ones, to refresh, gather one’s strength, feel like an individual human, and be ready to go back to Barney.

    • 8 les August 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      Barney should go to jail for his sappy voice and lack of creativity. Those poor child actors they had on that show–I’m sure they wince in pain every time they watch how they were supposed to “act.”

    • 9 les August 22, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      haha. My son J said that might be Pee Wee Herman you’re thinking about, Robin. He DID actually go to jail. LOL

  5. 10 lynette August 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    les, i can’t tell you how much i admire what you are doing, giving of yourself and your home and family to these little girls. i am sure the respite was well-needed and well-earned, and i hope you had a fabulous time….

    i am glad my Barney days are over — although tied in with so many other wonderful moments 🙂

  6. 12 Consuella Banana Hammock August 23, 2010 at 8:31 am

    i’m glad you took your respite because it actually means we got to hear from you! you have been missed…

    you know my good friend did the same thing you did. she took in 4 kids and has since adopted them. they were hesitant to do the respite care too but finally gave in. we wanted to help out but hadn’t had the training which included a CPR certificate. it isn’t like you can just call a baby sitter. anyway, good for you. and i think it is good for them too. you are more rested, happy and that can only spill over back on them.

    • 13 les August 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm

      It was good all the way around. I think maybe it helps them realize how good they really have it when they’re away for awhile. ; )

  7. 14 Chris September 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Oh, now look at that. I post more than you do, har.

  8. 16 Chris September 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    No, instead I have computers to find from 8-5 (not counting overtime), classes and exams to take, certification exams to study for, receipts to compile for expenses, scheduling issues to clarify, and paperwork to fill out. In the very rare event I have any free time left over, I get sloshed. XD

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