Come August the foster children will have been with us for six months. Sometimes I look at them and I'm amazed at how far they have come. Yet at the same time, I look at Big Brother and myself and wonder which one of us is going to be ready for the funny farm first? The kids are doing well and making progress, but there are still lots of challenging behaviors to grapple with each day and power struggles galore with the Princesses. The fact is, taking care of young children is hard enough under ideal conditions (i.e., in a two parent home in a higher tax bracket), but parenting traumatized kids as a single mom with a full-time job and a teenager as my only back-up? Suffice it to say single foster parenthood is a job that really ought to come with a cape and super powers.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the super powers I wish I had. It is one of my favorite escapist fantasies, so if DYFS ever did call me up to tell me they were granting me super powers I'd already know what to ask for. For one I would want to be able to produce extra hands as needed (This power would be especially useful when crossing the street with two unruly children and a nervous dog while pushing a stroller). X-ray vision would be good, too. (useful for nabbing the sneaky child in the next room who is destroying the nail clippers by using them to cut through shoe laces on a pair of shoes that don't belong to her). But if I could only choose one super power it would, undoubtedly, be the ability to clean the house, do laundry and cook dinner simply by thinking about it (I fantasize about that last one a lot).
Since super powers aren't standard issue for foster parents, I think at the very least they could give us some super technology instead - the cone of silence from Get Smart, for example. I know I'd give my eye teeth to get fifteen minutes of silence with no Sponge Bob Square Pants song, no high pitched little voices asking endless questions and no baby whining. If the State could just figure out how to mass produce that thing I'm sure moms everywhere would want one, not just foster moms. They could make foster parents very happy and eliminate the state deficit at the same time, but since that would make economic sense I'm sure they'll never actually do it. But I can still dream about it, right?
Unfortunately, we get neither super powers nor cool technology to help us deal. What we do get is simply an overworked case worker (who changes every few months) and the advice to develop a network of strong social supports. Yeah, right! As if any single foster parent has time to do anything remotely social, let alone find the time to seek out a network of people willing to come over to babysit their traumatized kids. Trust me, if you need to get rid of somebody quick, just ask them to take your three small children for the afternoon, one of whom is still in diapers.
When I'm not day dreaming about super powers I can't help but wonder where we'll be six months from now. Will Princess Jasmine have taken over and be running the house, with me locked in the basement? Will Big Brother or I, or both of us, be happily residing in a padded cell? Might the kids possibly be back home, reunited with mom? Or will the world end after all (as Big Brother is still worrying might happen), making all my musing a moot point?
One way or another, by the time we tear the last page from the 2012 calendar I hope we'll all have some answers to replace the big question mark that currently defines our collective futures. All I can hope for in the meantime is that I survive and keep my sanity long enough to see it happen.