Sing for Your Supper

Tuesdays are hard work for me, thanks to combining one of my latest work nights with the bath night that cannot be avoided since I am gone Wednesdays overnight.

Once in a while, Tuesday nights get extra exciting because Nathan is away at symphony rehearsals.

I have no complaints, though, even if it is sometimes hard, because I am so grateful that Nathan is so good with the kids and so much help while I am gone one night a week for this short season.  It was impossible, we thought, and now we are halfway through it!  The hardest part is still yet to come: when the Hillcrest and VA programs overlap by about six weeks, right at the time we expect the new baby to arrive.  Those will be a hard six weeks, and I am already praying for our future selves, and that baby.

I have managed to get all of my papers, projects, and presentations finished, though!  It feels so good to be through that part of it.  I am too old for this!  I have been in school since I was five years old!  I am finished!  It’s such a funny mess I am in, and of course I really do love every minute, but the early mornings I had to get up to get homework finished before long days?  That was intense, and hard, and I am glad that piece is done.  I am sleeping all night, sleeping late as I can now, and it feels good to be on a more relaxed schedule again.  I still have classes to watch, and quizzes to take, but I finished mid-terms and only have finals left (about six weeks from now, right in the middle of the screaming baby in heroin withdrawal and the Sunday and Wednesday overnight shifts).

The best thing, though, about having finished all my projects is that while my schedule is still a little intense with the extra chaplaincy training going on, there are two significant changes that make a world of difference:  first, sleep, which I already mentioned but mention again because I love it so much, and secondly, my time at home is actually time at home.  Since January, every spare moment – even if it wasn’t really a spare moment – was spent writing, researching, and typing.  Now when I am home, I can be a wife and a mom again.  I can play with the children, and clean our house (thank goodness), and actually cook once in a while.  Nathan has some mad skills for helping out, which I knew from when I had cancer, but I am really glad to be freed up to just be me again.  That is nice, and makes the intense schedule seem not so bad compared to how hard that was.

This means that I worked on cleaning our bedroom this morning, the kitchen on my lunch hour, and the food storage room and bathrooms after work before the kids got home.  Once the kids got home, I played the mean-mom card, and told them that if they wanted supper then they would hurry up with their chores.  Their chores are simple, because two are six and two are two, but chores are really important.  They have all been here long enough to know what is expected, and are all old enough to practice responsibility.  I do not even have to tell them anymore what to do specifically, because they know!  I was really proud of them as they burst into motion: putting blocks in the block basket, legos in the lego basket, train pieces in the train box, dirty clothes in the hamper, dolls on Toddler’s bed, Five’s cars in his room, books back on the shelves, and everything with glitter in the girls’ room.  They finished in about ten minutes, and I praised them and bragged on them for their hard work.  This saves me hours of cleaning, when they pick up after themselves, and now the house is ready so that any spare moments tomorrow can be for a quick dusting, and vacuuming (while we can still see the floor), and then maybe while they are sleeping I can sweep and mop.  It feels good to be caught up again, and the house not quite so destroyed.

I also rewarded them with wheat free, pudding filled, powdered-sugar-ed cupcakes after dinner!  They really did work hard, and I was proud of them for helping, for cleaning up their own messes, and for working together to accomplish a goal.  We talked about each of those things, and how it benefited all of us, and how the house feels so much better when we can find things and have room to play.  That’s when Five informed me that I was the only one who hadn’t put away my books, which are stacked a mile high on my desk for school.  I told him I have to use them everyday, and that as soon as my class is finished this spring, and he told me that was okay as long as I don’t forget.

Some of them I can put away at the end of next week, actually, as next week will be my finals for my Jewish Studies courses.  The calendar is different, of course, for my Jewish school, so my finals will be next week, and then in March I will begin my next two courses with them: Tanakh (Old Testament) and Jewish Pastoral Care.  I am super excited for these two classes, and especially the Jewish one for chaplaincy, I just had my first Jewish death last weekend.  I knew some things: don’t leave the body alone, let the husband close her eyes, cover the mirrors, point her feet to the door, and read Psalm 21 and Psalm 91.  I tried my best, and the family seemed to be responsive, but I would like to know better how to serve them more and do it well.

I have learned that I am allowed to post my reflections and verbatims from chaplaincy, so I will start doing that.  To catch up, it might seem like a lot at once, so my apologies for the blog-spam, but then it will space out more after that.  All the information is non-identifiable, so you don’t actually know who the patient was, of course, and all of them are by permission.  Verbatims are done in counseling supervision as well, so I was familiar with it and excited to be challenged, refine my skills, and grow internally and spiritually through the process.  It will be fun to share, so my friends know more about what I am doing as a chaplain since it is kind of new to us.

There is so much new to us:  Five and Toddler are here to stay, something we have never ever felt before.  It’s amazing the settling already, and the shift in our bond, and the unfolding of our futures being tied together.  I don’t have words for how it changes things, but it does in ways I did not understand.  The baby and Six are probably being terminated, too.  Six may have family step up at the last minute, so I don’t know that she will be up for adoption.  The baby, though, was talked about in a meeting with the supervisor of caseworkers this week, and they told us to be prepared to adopt the baby if we wanted to keep her.  They don’t think she is going home.

Then there is 13, who is all together another story.  She has been through so much, and has such attachment issues, but really just doesn’t want to be here.  She is not acting out right now – we are working hard with her to support her and help with maintenance behaviors, so there is no trouble or drama, but she doesn’t want to stay, and she doesn’t want to be adopted.  I think they will probably move her to a group home, then, when rights are terminated soon, and it breaks my heart because we would totally be a family for her, and she has such potential, but is not what she chooses.  I have had to struggle with it this week a great deal, even with some tears, because it is not my choice and it is her life and I think my ego is bruised that I couldn’t help her get better fast enough to attach well enough before the DA started termination.  Sometimes I blame the cancer, because she got bounced around two times more after leaving here last summer, and that just makes me angry, but there is nothing I could have done about it, and nothing I can do about it now.  I just care for her a great deal, and don’t want her lost, but maybe it is my turn to trust her – she has endured a great deal, and maybe what she needs is still out there, and maybe she will find who she is able to attach to, and maybe she will be just fine because she really is so amazing.  Or maybe I just try to talk myself into understanding those things only because it stings so much that she will have to leave.

As far as we know, the new baby is still alive.  We know it is a girl, and we got confirmation again this week that we will be the initial placement for the baby.  We also found out that since we are adopting Toddler, we count as kinship for the new baby!  That means that even if other family comes forward, we still have precedence for keeping the baby because we are kinship just as they are, but also have a sibling.  I don’t know if that is a good thing, and so it is okay for me to be excited about it, or if that means nothing really because anything could happen at court and we don’t even know.

This is hard work, getting our family in chunks and pieces and all at once but never knowing what the actual moment means while you are living it.

Except that I know it is real when Six laughs while I braid her hair.

And I know it is real when the baby laughs while I tickle her feet as I take her socks off at night.

And I know it is real when even 13 giggles over cupcakes, giving me a thumbs up when no one is looking.

And I know it is real when Toddler leans over in the middle of dinner, just to put her head on my shoulder.

And I know it is real when Five smiles at me and calls me Mommy and tells me he is really glad he gets to be adopted.

And I know that if you are really, really getting adopted, then that means you need a little white suit for the Temple!  So look at this, what made me cry tonight!  It’s a miracle!  So amazing!  And it made me cry like a girl!

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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