Yes, I feel like I have a ton of bricks upon my shoulders when I want to just escape for just a quick minute walk. My husband has encouraged me to find time for myself and to get a break from the kids. When I am not experiencing my side effects of my unclassified and self-diagnosed condition, I try to find the time to take a quick walk in the evenings.
It really came to my attention when my case worker assigned to Amanda’s case suggested that I take a respite break while we attended an all-day Taekwondo tournament with our family at UT-Austin. Respite is when a foster child stays with another licensed foster family while we take a break. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do this. I didn’t know if this would be traumatic for Amanda given how attached she is to us. I was also trying to figure out what type of day I may have at the tournament and I envisioned it would consist of chasing down a rambunctious toddler from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. while trying to watch my son compete.
Olivia and Claire were removed from our home and returned back to a biological family member. I found myself trying to fight these memories and to stay focused on getting Amanda’s weekend bag packed as tears filled my eyes. As much as I want to suppress the hurt we still feel to this very day, the simple action of packing Amanda’s clothes stirred up something that was still within me. When we dropped Amanda off with her respite provide Allison, she was so happy and blowing kisses as we drove away. It also helped me to know that Allison and I have taken lots of our foster parenting classes together so she and I had a good relationship and trust built.
As we pulled out of Allison’s driveway, my youngest son was worried about leaving Amanda and he was confused; he asked what if they forget they have her? What will they feed her? Will we go back and get her? I assured him she was safe and happy and we would come get her in 2 short days.
On our last day of respite, my husband and I decided to spend time attending the Grapevine Wine Trail with four other friends of ours. This is something we never get the chance to do. We had the time to have a real adult conversation for a few hours with our friends that didn’t consist of Sponge Bob cartoons blasting in the background and Cheerios being chunked onto the kitchen floor.
While I don’t need a formal diagnosis code, prognosis or medication for my Mommy guilt, I am learning it’s OK to take a break. It lets me unwind and de-stress so I can be a better wife and mom. My next “Mommy needs a break” event is planned for the end of May and I am looking forward to getting together with a great group of friends again.
Christy Benson is the director of Clinical Informatics Analysis & Measurement for Texas Health Resources, Mom to two boys and Foster Mom.