I’ve been mentoring foster kids for about 5 years. I’m no stranger to the system. However, I’m also far from an expert.
Since I felt the call to pivot and focus on this new Adventure of fostering I’ve been looking to reacquaint myself with the system and begin to understand what the roadmap looks like. How are we going to go from life partners who travel constantly to parents?
Kirk and I have been navigating the relationship side of this and have a solid plan. We’re saving for a house and planning to move in together this summer.
What hasn’t been clear is what exactly the government is going to look for as evidence of our stability to qualify.
That was cleared up this weekend! My church happened to host a foster info session and there were experts there that answered most of my questions. I discovered that much of what I thought I knew is outdated and/or rumors. So it was great to get solid info.
Turns out we’re on the right track in most areas.
They look for stability in our relationship as a couple, stable income sufficient to support a kid (the government offers some financial support but it’s given after the fact as a reimbursement), legal history, emotional stability and a stable support system.
Co-habitating will show the stability of our relationship and some time in one city (vs nomading) will help too. We both have clean records and have done a lot of self-development work on our emotional stability. My family is a killer support system and we have tons of friends in Orlando which is why we’re here. Mostly in good shape!
I need to get some steady, reliable income.
Self-employment is okay in theory, but they’d be looking for stable income over time which I haven’t had, especially since I’ve played so heavily with bartering. I suspected this may be the case so I’ve been searching for a remote part-time job for a while. Like a year. Now that I have confirmation that the job could make the difference in my ability to foster has lit a fire – I’m off to research and find the perfect job that I know is just waiting for me. Wish me luck!
As I slowly pivot into this new Adventure of foster parenting I’m astounded by the little ways the Universe is supporting me.
By definition, as a nomad, I don’t have a home of my own to return to so my parents offered for me to stay with them until I figure it all out.
I am beyond grateful for my parents*. One of the things I’m really proud of is how we have managed to navigate the tricky terrain of shifting out of the parent/child dynamic into acknowledging each other as adults. They’re still my parents, I respect and honor them. And they relate to me both as their baby and an adult who’s choices they respect and support. We enjoy each other, we are friends.
While I’ve had extended visits in my parents home, this is the first time since I was a teenager that I have moved back in with my parents, full time, longterm. I’ll be here for at least 3 months.
A lot has changed in 20 years.
I no longer have a bedtime, get yelled at for not cleaning my room, I don’t have chores or a curfew. 🙂 I’ve treated the arrangement the same as I have all of my barter for lodging arrangements over the past few years. We agreed on how I’d pull my own weight, boundaries, communication. So far it’s all been great and logistically, all is well.
But it’s still weird.
There are remnants of my childhood everywhere.
Like the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning :
Or this spot on the wall of the guest room I’m sleeping in which was once the room my brother and I shared as toddlers.
My high school senior photo is on the living room wall.
The house has been remodeled, but there are still remnants of the house I grew up in.
My old bedroom is now Mom’s office, when I go into the closet for office supplies I see boxes of my childhood toys, the Survival Skills for Kids books I read and claimed qualified me to babysit at age 11 (it worked too!).
Given that I am pivoting my life and preparing for this new Adventure of foster parenting, it feels appropriate to return to my roots, to be surrounded by vestiges of my own childhood. What’s interesting is what has come up emotionally.
I expected to have some feelings about the physical surroundings and throwbacks.
What I didn’t expect was the impact of living under my parent’s roof when they are different people than they were when I was a kid.
Now, I’ve already said, we’ve grown, we’ve shifted, I’m well aware of all of this, proud of it even. And yet, some part of me, my inner child, was somehow expecting the mood and vibe to be similar to when I was a kid. And it’s not. And that’s weird and awesome.
Let me explain.
I inherited my own Bipolar Disorder from Dad’s side of the family. When I was a kid they hadn’t found the right medication balance for him so we had to tiptoe a bit because he had two modes, content or rage. Because of this, some part of me expected to still be tiptoeing around Dad’s mood swings, for Mom to accommodate Dad out of a desire to keep the peace.
However, much has changed.
In the first couple weeks of living with them, my Mom became annoyed at something my Dad did. And she told him about it, bluntly. I physically flinched and mentally judged her for poking the bear. I gathered my computer and retreated to my room in anticipation of Dad’s explosive temper.
Now. I have years of evidence that this is no longer how he operates. Dad has evolved and there are better medications and he’s much, much more balanced. Mom has evolved too and no longer accommodates him when he does swing. I know this.
But being back in their home, surrounded by physical reminders of times past, I somehow reverted to old habits and reactions. I didn’t even realize I did this until later.
This reaction in and of itself was fascinating to notice. To realize that some part of me is still dealing with some childhood traumas.
But wait, there’s more.
After I retreated to my room, what followed was something small and yet transformational for my inner child. I could overhear my parents bicker, work through it, find a solution and move on. No explosions, no tension in the house. Just healthy, adult conversation.
This experience was incredibly moving for me. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m tearing up again as I write this and I’ve been searching, seeking to describe the emotions that inspired my tears.
What I’ve come to realize is that even though I’ve developed a healthy friendship with my parents, part of me still worried about them and the way I handle conflict as an adult is heavily influenced by the patterns of conflict in my parent’s house when I was a child. There was something incredibly healing about being given that private window into their growth and evolution that somehow freed me up. It inspired me.
My parents have been married for 45 years. They were married for nearly a decade before I was born, prior to me they fostered boys. The parents those boys experienced were different from the parents I experienced because my parents were different people. My Platonic Wife has siblings 20 years younger than her, her baby sister is being raised by a different set of parents than she was because her parents have changed and evolved as people which impacts how they parent.
Living with my parents again, even with our healthy adult oriented relationship, has given me the experience of being parented by a whole new set of parents. Twenty years, empty nest, new medications, retirement – so many factors have changed.
As a child, my mom was around. All. The. Time. She homeschooled us and we spent a ton of time with her. Dad worked long hours to support the family so Mom could stay home which left Mom without much of a life outside of the family. Now, twenty years later, she has a very full life – she’s gone most of the time. Dad is retired and while he volunteers a lot, he’s home most of the time. This is a complete 180 from my childhood. I have spent more time alone with my dad in the past 6 weeks than in my entire life previous. No exaggeration.
As a kid, I used to wish that Dad would come home and play with us, ask us about school, be involved. But he was exhausted and only had the energy to eat and go to sleep. My adult self completely understands this, but my kid self, she felt a huge missing from my Dad. Now, every day, Dad asks me what I’m up to, tells me about his day, reminds me to take an umbrella or avoid rush hour. It’s such a 180 that, on the occasions when he interrupts a client call or my train of though, I have to remind myself not to be annoyed by how involved he wants to be, it’s literally all I wanted as a kid and here I am, receiving it as an adult.
I’ve gotten to see them through a different lens, to be reminded of how much they’ve grown. As humans, as parents, as partners who have been married and done life together for 45 years of ups and downs. It’s been healing for me to revisit some of my childhood ghosts and re-view them through adult my adult perspective. I’ve found that even though I’m adult, I’m still their child and experiencing the parents they are today was exactly what I needed.
Like I said, the Universe has my back and conspires to put me where I need to be. I’ve found another layer of healing from my childhood traumas, an inspiration of how I want to parent and a renewed closeness to my parents as my Parents.
*I feel it important to say here, the trauma that was triggered from my childhood – it’s nothing special or unique and no reflection on my parents. Every child has experienced something that registered as traumatic to them. No parent can prevent this. Its part of childhood, its part of the human experience. In no way do I mean to imply that my parents weren’t good parents, I am so glad I chose them and would do it again.
Adventure can describe a lot of different scenarios.
For a long time, the Adventures of Sunni involved me honing my intellect and leapfrogging my way up the corporate ladder.
For the past three years, Adventure has involved me living a nomadic lifestyle, living out of my suitcase traveling around the world.
For the past 6 months, Adventure has involved me wandering around the US on an endless road trip.
Now, it’s time to embark on a new type of Adventure – creating a family.
I have returned to my childhood home, while I will always be a traveler my nomading days are behind me. My new Adventure is focused on becoming a foster parent to teenagers. This is no small task. The system looks for stability in foster parents and a nomadic lifestyle is not that. So I will spend the next 18 months returning to a more traditional lifestyle, mentoring foster kids, completing classes and generally proving my ability to be stable and become responsible for kids.
I have wanted to foster for as long as I can remember. Specifically teens as they are an often neglected demographic and I really enjoy them. I’ve been mentoring teens as they age out of foster care for about 5 years and I’m ready to go deeper, get closer and work with them younger.
Lately, much of my time has been invested in creating online group programs and working with folks 1:1 as an Intuitive Strategist. I guide my clients in designing a life they love through the practical application of spiritual principles. It has been so fulfilling and rewarding to see adults discover their own power and really define their own path through life. I am eager to take this to the next level in working with teens.
An element of this new Adventure that is really exciting for me is that I’m not alone. Kirk is very much onboard and we are in this together, we are ready to start a family together, in our own way. I’m grateful for his partnership as patience is going to be needed and that is something he excels at far more than I. Not only in working with the kids but in the steps required to get us to that point, groundwork must be laid and of course, I want it now! 🙂
I’ll share more about the experience of shifting modes and entering the system to foster as things unfold.
It’s been about 6 weeks since I left Orlando. Last year when I flew everywhere I didn’t go for more than about 6 weeks without a pit stop in Orlando to swap clothes and get cuddles. So it kinda makes sense that it’s at this point that I start to really miss things.
I really missed my family. Which makes sense and I can wrap my head around that because they’re real, I can touch them, they exist.
I also had a fiercely miss my home. This one is more confusing to process because that doesn’t exist, I don’t have my own space in the traditional sense. I haven’t for over a year. I am missing a place that does not exist. As I sit with this it starts to become clear that I miss an idea, rather than a place.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had these urges.
There have been several occasions where I considered a return to ‘normalcy’ a return to a standard stable lifestyle. Shoot, I sort of had that the first half of the year when I stuck around Orlando to support family.
Here’s the thing, I know that if I were to honor these feelings, hop in the car and drive back to Orlando to settle into a ‘normal’ life…it wouldn’t take but a couple of months before I was antsy, craving the travel life again.
These thoughts, these feelings- they are just that. They are coming from my Monkey Mind, from fear and as a result of living in and being with the very edge of my comfort zone. They were created by my Mind.
I don’t allow my Mind alone to dictate how I live my life. Nope. My Soul is driving that bus.
And it’s okay for me to be in the moment, to be scared, to miss my Mom, my Girl, my Guy, my brother, my bed (which is on end in a storage unit) and my coffee table (which is amazing). It’s even okay for me to decide to turn around and drive back to all of those things. If that is what my Soul truly wants.
As I spent the day in my meltdown and eventually processed what was happening and moved through it, I realized that I haven’t been sticking to all of my daily rituals. In the last 3 weeks I slept in 5 different beds and I didn’t sage or ground in any of them. I also haven’t been honoring my commitment to exercise daily and, if I’m honest, I have been resisting the level of meditation my Soul is calling me to. These are all rituals and commitments I’ve put in place because they support me in declaring each new place as my home, in that moment.
No wonder I haven’t felt at home! No wonder I’m feeling home sick for the idea of home, I haven’t been creating it!
Before writing this I spent some time saging the home I’m staying in. I spent time with my grounding point. I invested the afternoon in a long stretch, a good work out and a long bath meditation. I do feel better, more grounded. But I’m still uneasy, there’s still a huge part of my Mind (and Ego?) that are annoyed about how things have been going. I still miss my Mom. And that’s okay.
My Body is much more content now that I gave it some attention.
My Soul is happy, aligned and in the middle of massive expansion.
My Mind is very, very happy My Guy will be here soon for a visit and that I’ll be flying home to the VonMutii in about two weeks.
I spent the past week planning and prepping to shift my life to road-tripping mode. In the midst of my planning the Universe decided to ask me:
just how bad do you want this?
Since I spent the past several months hanging at my Partner’s place I’d accumulated a decent amount of belongings out of my storage unit. Also, last year I lived out of my Condo (aka suitcase) and revisited my Storage unit every 4-6 weeks.
With the endless roadtrip I’ll have lots of extra space (I mean, a whole car!), but I won’t be able to get to my Storage Unit regularly.
It took me about 20 hours to go through everything, put things away in Storage, choose what to go into the Condo and what to go into my car. I bought several tools to help me stay organized but ultimately didn’t need most of them. I was worried my trunk was going to be jam packed – it’s not.
Basically what I added to the car was:
– 1 bin of winter clothes
– 1 bin of occasional clothes (dressy, professional, beachwear)
– 1 small bin of craft and biz supplies
– 2 tiny bins of workshops in a box (1 woo woo and 1 biz)
– 1 carry on sized suitcase of linens
– 1 pillow
– 1 suitcase stand
I also put a decent soft cooler and a bag of kitchen supplies into my car. It really wasn’t that much. I’m pretty impressed with my minimalism. Honestly, if you knew me 10 years ago you’d be seriously impressed.
I got everything packed up Saturday night. Sunday morning the plan was to go to church and then go to my parents for the night and then off to Jacksonville Monday morning.
Sunday morning I went bopping out to my car, and well, here’s what happened next:
What I ultimately discovered was, the mechanical issues weren’t a ‘sign’ that I shouldn’t go. Rather, they were an opportunity for me to show God/Universe/Spirit/Divine just how committed I am to taking the actions that align me to my purpose. So I pushed through, found a solution and I’m on my way!
Today, as I showered I had a vivid memory of the first time I shaved my legs. In my house, it was almost a rite of passage. For most, it seems that a girl’s first cycle is the rite of passage. Not me. For me it was shaving.
With most things related to physically maturing, I just did it myself, for example, I stole feminine supplies from my mom for a year before she realized. I fudged my age and got piercings without permission. But for some reason, I honored my parents and waited on the shaving bit. It may have had something to do with me being blonde and it not being super impactful but I don’t really know.
It finally happened going into the summer I would turn 14. When I showed Mom my new swimsuit, well, it was obviously time if you get the drift. I remember sitting in our bathroom with the horribly ugly green marble tile Mom by my side. She had her leg up and demonstrated a stroke and then I would mimic on my own leg. She gave me tips on how to handle the danger zones, ankles, knees etc. and how I could save time by stopping at my shorts line if I wouldn’t be swimming anytime soon. She allowed me to get a variety of razors and creams, even expensive ones, so I could determine which I liked best.
Not sure why I remembered this experience in the shower today, it could be related to all the loss I’ve experienced lately. Going to funerals where moments are rehashed and cherished and wondering if the deceased realized how valued they were.
No matter. Thanks Mom, for taking the time to give me the experience of a rite of passage. To this day, I rarely cut myself while shaving and still use the same razors I decided on back then. You done good.
I find it interesting how I don’t remember being eager to join the shaving women of America. I know I sat there with my fuzzy legs while friends talked about waxing, shaving, nair, but I don’t remember feeling left out, or grateful or reluctant either. Just indifferent. Which is odd given how opinionated I am. I also find it interesting that I never questioned that I should shave, it never occurred to me to go natural. It certainly occurs to me now. I daydream about a society where smooth doesn’t equal sexy and in winter months I get quite soft and furry…but now we’re getting into a whole other topic.
This memory has left me curious about a few things.
Can you remember your first time shaving?
Have you experienced a rite of passage, what was it?
My last name is VonMutius (von-mew-tee-us), when there’s more than one VonMutius in one place at one time, we call us the VonMutii. I am perpetually honored to be a VonMutii.
For 11 years now my family has prioritized and chosen to take a long weekend, family beach vacation together. This is especially impressive to me since we have no third generation, none of us have kids, we’re all adults. And we still choose to spend time with family.
I use those words intentionally.. Choose. Prioritize.
Lots of folks tell me that they don’t have time or money to do family vacations. Not enough time off, too much money to spend or why would I use my vacation time to be with my crazy family.
My family is close, and works hard at communication and boundaries to allow us to stay close. Each of us makes a conscious decision to prioritize spending time together, we choose to invest our time and together we work out a budget that works for us.
Typically we stay on or near water. We play games, do a puzzle, eat a LOT of awesome food and spend time together.
I love it.
This year My Guy was supposed to join us. He had an amazing job opportunity that conflicted with Family Vacation. Together we decided that the job supported the life and Partnership we’re creating so he emailed my family to tell them he couldn’t join us. Long story short, family offered to move the whole vacation which didn’t work out so Kirk rented a house in Orlando so we could do a one night sleep over, mini stay-cation, that included him.
I know. I am very, very blessed. And, I can’t stress enough, it all comes out of us choosing to prioritize. <3