Two independent comments on the last post were from foster carers in the exact same boat; they've been approved and are awaiting their first placement.
I sat early this morning reading their comments at the kitchen table with a cup of tea at my elbow (I'm on unsweetened soya milk these days and I genuinely prefer it to cow's which got too lactose bloaty for me). The family, our weird-shaped family of blood and foster, are all asleep.
It's a Sunday, it's going to be hot, we've promised a barbecue, my big job will be to poach the sausages and chicken legs before they go on the grill to make sure they're cooked through, but almost as important, to do it secretly because otherwise it's soppy cheating and all men and would-be men abhor overt barbecue caution.
Ditto I'll make sure there's a bucket of water next to the grill as well as a discreetly enforced at-least-one-adult-overseeing-the-barbie-at-all-times rule.
But despite all sorts of stuff running around my brain I keep going back to my days between approval and first placement.
I remember it as being a period of massive anticipation. Looking back I see myself like I was when a child on Christmas Eve.
But that's the nature of memory isn't it? The old rose tinted glasses of nostalgia.
Was I really a bundle of optimism and happy excitement? Oh it was in there alright, but I'm trying to remember the truth about what else was going on...
I remember I kept checking the spare room, which we'd done out neutrally - not too girl, not too boy - shouldn't matter these days but it might to them - not too young, not too old. The safety catches were on the windows, the bedside lamp was a simple sturdy one, with an energy bulb which comes on softly and gives a warmer light.
Downstairs the house was a home, and a safe one at that; the glass coffee table we'd given away, the fireguard was ready next to the fireplace. In the garden the tub we call a pond was wired over.
So there was nothing to worry about...
...except I was worrying, really worrying. World class worrying. But what about?
I remembered when our first born was due. We were given a date by the hospital, but it came and went and we got more and more excited/worried. We were excited about the journey that lay ahead, and worried; would the baby be well and healthy?Then there was the mystery of whether it would be a boy or a girl.
I think the feelings in the run-up to your first placement are about the same as the feelings in the run-up to the birth of your own baby. Massive.
In fostering you don't really know who your first child is going to be until they walk through your door. You're allowed to make certain stipulations which may narrow the placement possibilities, and you're given a file on the child before they arrive (9 times out of 10) which helps begin the picture. But just like when you're waiting for your own baby to be born, it's all abstract thinking until it's there in your arms.
And when the baby's in your arms you stop worrying. Because now you know what you've got and from that nano-second on you are too busy, far, far too busy being a parent to enjoy the luxury of fretting any more.
And what was it I worried about? While awaiting my own babies and while awaiting my first placement?
I am pretty sure that I worried about whether I could do the job. Be a parent. Be a foster parent.
The minute my first foster child was standing on our doormat looking bewildered, frightened and so, so vulnerable, all those selfish worries about myself and my abilities vanished and were replaced with real and very valuable worries for the poor little mite whose future I was now being asked to help fix.
It's a trepidatious time, between approval and first placement, and a magnificently busy time once the child arrives.
If you're awaiting your first placement or in between placements you should concentrate on re-charging the batteries; take walks and deep baths, download a yoga programme, have a lie in of you can. The kids used to call it chillin', I understand it's now called grossing.
I bet you a cup of tea with soya milk that both the contributors who are in that boat find time to post comments right up to their first placement. And we'll know when they've got their first placement because...we'll not hear a peep from them for months.
They'll be busy fostering.