"If anyone can do this, it's you, Sarah."
This has been a challenging month. And the reality of it all is that I'm not sure if I can do it.
About a month ago, our nieces and nephew came to live with us unexpectedly. My sister-in-law has been battling her mental health for a long time. Things just came to a head and the children were removed from her care and placed with us.
It has been a whirlwind to say the least. We started the month with our 2 boys ready to end the summer and get ready for school. Things were going great. We had a family vacation planned to the Boundary Waters at the tippy top of Minnesota. Then we had 5 kids suddenly. We added a 15-, 13-, and 2-year old to our home. We converted my home office into a bedroom for the girls to share. I started working from the basement in a common space. I still had conference calls that needed quiet time for and it wasn't possible with a 2 year old running around screaming random letters, numbers, and colors. Luckily another family member was able to take the youngest so now we only have 4 kids. I've met social workers and attorneys and coordinators and facilitators of all kinds. The kids come with a lot of their own mental health concerns and a lot of therapy, doctors, and dentist appointments that need to be made and I am now the default parent responsible for it all.
The kids need an environment they can thrive in and we have one to offer. I am blessed. I can do it. I can work from home and care for the kids. I can learn 4 different back to school plans in the uncertainty of a pandemic. I can homeschool them when the time comes. My job is flexible. I can take time out of my day to drive a county over for the girls to go to their appointments. I can make my home available a couple times a week to facilitate family visits so the kids get to be with their siblings. If anyone can do it, it's me, my friends and family say. I've got this. I am strong. I can do it. My environment is thriving.
Well it was thriving until it wasn't. And here I am now questioning how much of this I can really take. The truth is that this extra stuff going on in my personal life continues to affect how I show up in all other areas of my life.
I had the front seat to a big project at work. We had been working on it for almost 2 years but because I was meeting with social workers, I wasn't able to meet with key stakeholders and continue the momentum we had. My boss has been gracious with me and understands what I'm going through but the work needs to be done. There will be other opportunities, yes but I'm still grieving the loss of this one.
School is about to start again and I had budgeted for my 2 kids, and now I have 4. Where am I going to pull extra funds from so that my kids aren't sacrificing their back-to-school wardrobes? I'm not certain. Not only do I have 4 kids in school, but 4 kids in 4 different schools. My nieces come from a city 25 minutes away and it is recommended that they stay in their same schools. There is a program that will help with transportation, which is great, however these are now 4 return-to-learn plans I will be learning. 4 different schedules and 4 different environments I have to monitor to ensure the safety of the kids and our family.
I've been fighting to find joy in this overwhelm
. I hold on to tiny moments of happiness because I'm not sure when or where the next blow is going to come from. I've wanted to give up. I've wanted to just call DHS and let them know I am valuing my sanity over anything else. I can't bring myself to do that though. I know this is the best place for the girls to be. I know they are much happier here than any other place they could go. We are the end of the line for them before they are placed into a scary and uncertain foster care system. So I need to continue to sacrifice. I have to keep going.
I write this all to show you that it's not easy to make these decisions. If you're reading this and have made different decisions than I have, I commend you because any decision here is hard. It's hard to keep going and it would be hard to quit. I'll do it tired. I'm going to keep going until I can't any more.
Here's to holding on to happiness and joy wherever I can.
Thanks for tuning in.