Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Over the last few years, when people casually ask me "How are you?" I usually reply "Surprisingly well.Or, my favourite; "Pleasantly tired." 

Here's what I mean; 

Today we're on a break without any children; we're having three days in a hotel+spa in a forest, today is day two.

It's our first 'respite' since we got stuck into our second bout of fostering, which began about seven or eight years ago.

Actually I don't like to call it 'respite', that makes it sound like we need a break from fostering, or worse a break from our foster children. Nothing could be further from the truth. What's happened is that the other half's workplace booked himself and a bunch of his colleagues onto one of those away-day team-bonding blah blah blah events, and partners are invited, so it was a no-brainer.

We have children of our own who've reached adult age, are cleared, accredited and officially able to hold the fort, they know that Blue Sky are on the end of a phone 24/7 (as are we, and only 45 minutes away), so bags packed, hired car on the drive, away we go.

We've taken a pact not to talk about fostering.

Fat chance. The conversation for the first 20 miles was nothing but;

"We said we wouldn't talk about that/it/them/him/her..."

We arrived, checked in and went and sat by an ornamental fishpond.  A waiter arrived and we ordered. I had goats cheese salad and he had the pastrami sandwich. Two pots of tea. We tried our darnedest not to talk about you know what, but the furthest we got from fostering was to realise that this would be our first night away from home without having children to look after for 28 years.

We decided to have a quick lie on the bed.

What happened next was something that's only happened to me once before in my life, back when I was single. 

Sadly, it's not quite as exciting as I just made it sound, but anyway;

Back then I'd taken on a second job to get my savings account up. A friend phoned me begging help at her place of work (pub) so I agreed. For six weeks of that summer I had a 9-5 weekday daytime job, a Saturday/Sunday job AND a weekday evening job. 45 hours+16 hours+20 hours per week, plus travel time.

When the marathon was over I decided to reward myself with two days and nights in a spa. 

I arrived mid-morning, was put through a circuit in the gym and had my first massage, facial and sauna. They'd weighed me on arrival and told me there would be no lunch or evening meal for me, and that tomorrow's breakfast would be a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. 

I went back to my room around 2.30pm for a lie down. I was feeling sluggish, I figured it was the workout and the prospect of an empty tummy.

When I woke I checked my watch, it was 8.30.  I decided I might as well go for a wander otherwise I wouldn't be able to go to sleep again. I went into the dining room and was surprised to see that the other guests were having things like muesli for supper! Then a waitress asked me which room I was in and when I told her she checked her ledger and brought me a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon.

...It was 8.30 alright. 8.30am the following morning! I'd slept for 18 hours!!!

And yesterday afternoon/night I did it again. Not quite right through, as this time I knew what was going on with my body. I woke every so often but remembered I didn't have to get up to cook fish fingers or sort out the laundry whites from the coloureds, or adjudicate a dispute about Pokemon. So I easily nodded off again. 

When I reply to the question "How are you?" with "Pleasantly tired" or "Surprisingly well", people sometimes reply "Eh?". They were expecting a lazy "I'm fine thanks", but I mean it when I say I'm pleasantly tired and surprisingly well, and if they ask me what I mean by my reply I say; "I foster."

And y'know what? Not one person has ever failed to understand what I mean.

And now, if you'll excuse me, this pleasantly tired and surprisingly well foster mum is off to the conservatory to join the other partners of the workers in a cheeky glass of wine before dinner.

I will be asked how I am.

And, for once, I will reply "Pleasantly rested and very well, thank you. And you?"

Until tomorrow, when we get home and I catch up on all the dramas and it's back to normal with my lovely topsy turvy fostering days and nights.

Pleasantly tiring days and nights. 

Which leaves me feeling surprisingly well.