And just like that, she’s back. We’ve had regular contact with T for about two and a half months now and my heart feels full again. Our reunification happened when T called me out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon and said that she needed some papers signed for housing purposes and asked if she could come by the house to get my signature. I was home and of course said “yes”, slightly suspicious, however, considering she’s 19 and a legal adult, why would she need my signature? I decided not to ask. With T I’ve learned it’s better not to do too much questioning and just see how things unfold. I would later learn, per her confession, that she made up the signature thing as an excuse to see me.
When she came through the door 30 minutes later I immediately hugged her and told her that I missed her. We chatted a bit to get the nerves and awkwardness out from not seeing each other in a while, coming off the heels of our last interaction which was pretty volatile. The last time we had spoken (the only exception being exchanging niceties on Christmas) was at a family mediation from which she stormed out of rage on wheels when she realized she wasn’t going to get what she was demanding. I decided to can work for the day (I work from home) and go to lunch with T at our favorite neighborhood spot to play catch up. We talked about little things, we talked about big things, but mostly I think we both just enjoyed being in each other’s company again and sharing some laughs.
Since then we’ve settled into a routine of her popping by after school to watch Netflix, use our wifi, and get a little food in her belly. I love going about my business in the house and seeing her sprawled out on the couch talking to her new boyfriend on the phone, watching TV, or taking a nap. I think all human beings deserve to feel cherished and that they matter, but particularly children that come from foster care and most likely got a false start in this department. There was a time when T was practically allergic to our positive affirmations. Her coded messages of inadequacy seemed impenetrable, but now she embraces our compliments and generally says something funny like, “tell me more” or “I know, I’m awesome!”.
A couple weeks ago I mustered up the courage to let T drive us to lunch for the first time. She managed to get her learner’s permit last year on her own and passed the written test on her first attempt; I hadn’t managed to be in passenger seat since. T obliged me in taking only the side streets and I thought I handled it all very well (later reports to her father would show I was a basket case and made her nervous). Her driver’s test is next month and I’ve tasked my husband with being her coach; I know my weaknesses. We stocked up on groceries for her after lunch and off she went, back to her young adult independent life.
The raw parts of T’s life, past and present, aren’t pronounced to outsiders. I’m learning what it looks like to be the parent of a young adult not under my roof (baptism by fire as always) and I’m cherishing this new chapter, just as I have the other chapters, though at times arresting and hard. Three years later things are coming into focus for us as a family, and the lingering affects of our unconditional love and commitment to her are showing. Being the parent of a teenager and empty nester at 31 is totally bizarre, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m grateful times infinity to be one of her mothers.