There were a lot of tears. A lot of questions. A bit of anger. Some relief (though I hate to admit that). More tears. And more questions. The why's behind our sudden change back to a family of two aren't really that important. At least not when it comes to sharing my story. The why's are important. But the why's will not make themselves known.
I've found myself second guessing a lot over the past 18 days. I've found myself placing all the blame on myself. Maybe I tried too hard. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. I should really learn how not to say stupid things. I should have been gentler. If only I could have been more present. How could it have been so hard when we felt like it was the right step for our family? I probably didn't pray enough or trust God enough. I leaned on my own strength too much.
Those thoughts alone are enough to drive me crazy. And then you add graduate school for social work plus a job in the field of social work, and I'm a big bag of crazy still - 18 days later.
I have peace, though. A peace that truly surpasses all understanding because try as I might I simply can not understand why I'm okay with all this (as okay as I can be) when I feel like so many things should have been handled differently.
We took a family vacation in August. A seven-day trip to Michigan. We left behind the humidity of Oklahoma, (most of) the stress of work, and we replaced it with a cool breeze and a chance to simply breathe. My husband and I both remarked how much of a family we felt while on that trip. I think that made the sudden loss sting even more.
We're taking a break right now. I'm in my first semester of graduate school. My husband is working rather consistent overtime. We're both still exhausted from the last three months. So rather than jump back into a family of four, we're taking a break and praying.
I feel selfish for taking a break. There are well over 10,000 children in Oklahoma's foster care system, and instead of rushing to their rescue, I am taking a break. I'm denying placements because of a lack of child care and because of hurt and exhaustion. And so I feel selfish and guilty.
But I know I'm not those things in this instance. (I'm those things plenty of other times though!) Because it's not that we don't want to open up our home. Rather it's that we need to let God repair our hearts and fill us with more strength.
I love my husband more now. I loved watching him parent. I loved that he was often the voice of reason (though I did not love the fact that I needed a voice of reason). I love his patience, his determination, his selflessness, his resolve to be kind and gracious.
And I'm excited to embark on another adventure in parenting with him - when the time is right. We have another 41 days until we can't take any more time. So as much as I am ready to know, and as much as it pains me to say no to placements, I am going to take however long we need and wait for direction only God can give us.