So here I am. Back in the thick of toddler times. Remember my friend I told you about? The one living with us? While I was gone for my month of western sojourning, she brought her boys home to live at our place. Now she's back to work and I'm in charge of them. Two boys, 4 and 2 years old. I'm caring for them full time at the least until my friend figures out daycare, and at the most till next month when I travel again.
From figuring out the morning shower schedule to transitioning back into yes-the-house-is-chaos-but-it's-how-we-roll-so-look-the-other-way-if-you-need-to mode, there is something almost every minute. I'm back to the constant stream of things you say to little people that you just never thought you'd say, such as "Please take your head out of my boot, buddy," and "Orange peels don't really work for coloring, but good try." (Both of those sentences came calmly out of my mouth recently, without me even thinking twice.) It's teaching them how to be eventual functioning adult humans, and it matters. It also takes a kind of mental energy that approaches magic in it's miraculousness. I've forgotten a lot of the daily grind of 18 years ago when my two youngest were this age, and that's probably a good thing. Ignorance is bliss, right? It's also nice to be more patient and mature, and have minutes when I can tell I'm mothering the way I always wanted to when I was in the thick of it, but didn't always achieve.
And all the feelings accompanying that part of this new adventure--adjusting to our nest being the opposite of empty--don't even scratch the surface of the wonder and frustration of watching and trying to help this mom navigate and use the local social services system. All I can say is, wow. My summation so far is that there are good people who work for for the agencies providing the various services; but the nearly inscrutable tangle of regulations, paperwork, redundancy, and requirements is baffling at best. And the fact that all the things in that last sentence are necessary to guard against people who are dishonest and mean is very disheartening. But we're learning it, and she's doing the work while I mostly cheer from the sidelines. Eventually, the fairly straightforward goal is a job that will pay for a place to live, some food, some gas, a few clothes and some childcare so she can be independent. Right now, from her perspective, it looks a lot like completing a mission to Mars.
But just like a mission to Mars, stuff gets done one small task at a time, and that how it's happening around here. One more form filled out and faxed. One more interview. One more phone call. One more day, then a week, then eventually, progress.
Luckily for me, these little boys are really cute and a lot of fun. Luckily, I like little children even still, and I have the energy to be around them. Luckily, I have the flexibility in my life to help with their care. Perhaps the biggest blessing so far has been the friends I have who have listened to me process this situation over and over again. They've cheered me on and convinced me I can do it. They've supported me have suppressed any urge to tell me I'm nuts, at least to my face. That matters so much to me, because lots of days, I actually do think I'm nuts. Then my sweet young friend gives me a hug or one of the little ones crawls into my lap for an unsolicited snuggle and my heart melts again and I get a moment's reprieve from the anxiety and doubt. So it's all good.