Three minus One equals Two

For the last year and a half, we've had the pleasure and joy of having a third child in our home.  Madison, our 11 year old niece, has lived with us since May of 2011.  Last night her mom, Monica, came into town from the Philippines to move back to America.  She finished her coursework to be a nurse and is now planning to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse here in the States.  It has been a very bittersweet time for all of us.  It means more change, flexibility and a new beginning for all of us in different ways.

Madi has taught us many things about being parents.  We haven't gotten everything right, but boy, have we worked our tails off.  More than most ever would or would even consider doing.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, dealing with a tween when they are not your own child is not easy in anything except maybe when it comes to when they have computer or ipod time.  But even that has had its challenges.

Our time as 'foster parents' or 'surrogate parents' or whatever many others have called us, has now come to an end.  We can resume our roles as Aunt and Uncle and hand the reins back over to Monica.  This is a very good thing I think.  She needs her mom and they need to rebuild the relationship that has been growing distantly and can now grow in person.

Monica and Madi are staying in our house the next two weeks.  We sought a counselor and prayed and decided for ourselves what we were capable of doing and what is best for all.  It is very apparent - even after just one solid day here - that the counselor was correct in all she has said and that they must find a place of their own where their roles as Mom and Daughter can be reunited correctly.  And it's important that it happen as soon as possible rather than drawing it out.

We saw that today in many things.  Madi has been testing the boundaries of what she can get away with.  She has tried to undo many things that we had set up for boundaries for her and is seeing if her mom will change them while they are here.  She has begged to play WOW again (which was taken away months ago due to her obsession with it and her tendency to play the evil characters as well as wanting to name them demon names) and told her mom that she didn't know why she had it taken away.  Total nonsense as she knows exactly why.  She has asked her mom for many things at the store including slushies, coffee and drinks even though she knows they can't afford it right now.  She has given us multiple evil looks as well as evil looks at Riley as she is frustrated that we are informing Monica how she tends to behave when she is wanting something or how she is working her over.  She is frustrated that her tactics aren't working.

Monica had told her that they will have rules when they are in their own place.  Madi asked if they can start their rules now and was told they will happen when they move out.  Madi's not happy with this.

Of course she's ready to be in a home with her.  Of course she is ready to be the kid with her mom being the only adult she has to listen to.  It is not easy having the transition in our home and having her trying to get things her way.  I'm sure she was hoping that as soon as Monica came, things would be much easier on her and she could do whatever she wanted to do again.  And it's not what she expected.

It is a challenge to step back and not tell Monica how to handle things.  After all, she is an adult and can figure it out.  But we've been the ones raising Madi for the last year and a half and she's pushing and pushing and pushing her already.  To be expected, but was not anticipating her trying as much as she has been already.  Our goal is to step out of the picture and let them figure it out on their own.  To allow them to make their relationship what it should be and to allow our family to become what it should be.  So far I'm not stressed out and just keep telling myself to persevere and make the right choices until things are settled.

Praying that the two weeks they have here are sufficient and that they will be able to forge their own way together - just the two of them - soon. We're thankful to be able to help short term, but it will be so very important for our families to go back to normalcy.

It has been very strange only having to keep track of two kids instead of three.  It's so quiet.  It's really quite crazy.  And Riley and Julia are definitely excited to be able to have me home with them this week to enjoy our time together.  Such a blessing!!!

I'm hoping to make some Christmas ornaments with the girls in the morning.  And get the tree up this weekend.  We'll see Santa on Tuesday or Wednesday.  My mom is taking me out for a late birthday dinner with shopping tomorrow night.  And we'll spend time with Jeremy's family at Kathryn's on Thursday.


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