multitasking foster parenting santa cruz
February 2020

Doing It All (Even When You Can't)

Foster Parenting

By Amanda Firth

This is part of a short series about Foster Parenting and Adoption in Santa Cruz County. Proper names in the story have been changed for the privacy and protection of the children involved.

The doctor was looking mostly at his computer screen, throwing me information while typing. “You’ve missed her last two appointments at the High Risk clinic. That is where you need to go if you want her to get more services.”

multitasking foster parenting santa cruz

I wasn’t there to get services. My diaper bag is from Kmart because I’m frugal and my clothes were a little dirty from a busy day, but I don’t need more services unless you can send me someone to do laundry and give me a massage. I was there because our family doctor said to be there. My daughter needed to see a specialist. 

My beautiful 2-year-old and I were sitting in a small exam room that had virtually no childproofing. I know because we’d had to wait for quite some time in it, and she is a busy little person.

Sigh. So I’ve missed appointments. What kind of horrible mother misses appointments?

One with five children, a full time job, and four or five appointments per week. Before I became a foster-adopt mother, I would never have imagined missing a single appointment. It would be like getting an “F” on my report card. I’m an overachiever and I take that right into mothering. 

We took her shoes off. She was in summer sandals because I couldn’t find clean socks that fit, and it’s warm out. Her feet stank. I made a few jokes about it, but the doctor made a point of washing his hands and telling me her feet stank.

Sigh. Who doesn’t wash their child’s feet daily? Who leaves the summer sandals unwashed?

We left the room and I quickly checked the traffic on my phone while she climbed on the furniture in the waiting room, in front of the “No Feet On Furniture” sign, and saw that it would take three hours to get home. As we were driving past one of my favorite restaurants, I impulsively swerved into the parking lot.

“You know what baby? We are STOPPING for a bowl of soup. At a table.” I was supposed to get home for all the other kids, but traffic was going to disrupt the plan anyways. Why not eat? Eating at a restaurant is incredibly rare in my life. As is being out with just one child.

It was four o’clock, and the other diners were in their golden years, although the bar looked lively. The hostess was enchanted by my daughter and gave us a lot of sweet smiles.  She helpfully seated us on our own planet, in an empty section of the restaurant.

My daughter wanted to run around. After all, she’d been in a car, then a little room where she wasn’t allowed to touch anything. I told the waitress we’d order immediately; I had about four seconds to glance at the menu before chasing my girl down before she ran right into the hot kitchen. She fussed when I brought her back, and then the other diners’ eye rolls began.

Sigh. I’m at a restaurant with a fussy baby.

We shared a plate of angel hair with pesto and scallops. To my surprise, she refused to eat the pesto pasta, normally her favorite, and fussed until I let her try the scallops. Then she ate all of them. I desperately tried to remember if this one had tried shellfish. Are scallops shellfish? Yes? No? Well, we’re right by the hospital. Sigh. Again, sigh.

My daughter and I left the restaurant with full bellies, leaving a huge tip, a huge mess, and frustrated diners. As we were driving home, I remembered my mother telling me that when her kids were my kids’ age, people would ask her how on earth she got it all done. She said, “It’s simple. I don’t do any of it well.”

Maybe I ought to stop beating myself up.

With that, I put on Let it Go and we sang happily down the road. We were at the doctor, originally, because my daughter is not learning to talk, and the clock is ticking. New words are few and far between.

When the song ended, my daughter looked at me and said for the first time, “Lettitgo. Lettitgo.” You know something? We’re all going to be just fine.

Linguini with Scallops, Broccoli, and Pesto

  1. Cook Linguini as directed, adding the broccoli for the last five minutes of cooking time. Drain.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and add scallops, cook for four minutes while stirring.
  3. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over scallops and cook while stirring until mixture is creamy and thick, and scallops are opaque.
  4. Add scallops and pesto to linguine and broccoli. Toss gently and serve.

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