I clearly remember the day Jason first came to live with us two years ago.
It was the three-day MLK weekend. It was one of those eye-squinting, sunglasses-wearing bright winter days, with the sun glaring off the snow. We drove up to Logan, where Jason was living, and brought him home. He had one garbage bag full of his possessions that Sam carried in from the trunk. I remember showing him around his new bedroom - that tiny room in the corner of the basement with no windows. I remember apologizing that his bed was just a standard cheap one from IKEA. He couldn't believe we bought a brand new bed just for him.
For the next week, there was that necessary tiptoeing around that you do when someone new moves in. Politely negotiating shower schedules and work/school schedules and food preferences. We explained our routines about dishes and scripture study and taking off our shoes at the door. I remember feeling this need to go check on him at night, like you check on a baby. Sam would talk sense into me. "He's almost a teenager," Sam would say. "He's fine. Give him some space."
And just like that - we were a family of three. We learned how to adjust and how to accommodate everyone's schedules and needs. Sam and I learned how to still be strong as a couple, although it was pretty hard for a while. It began to feel like Jason was part of the family, not just an extended house guest.
Jason is probably the easiest teenage boy ever to live with. He is so incredibly low-maintenance. He takes care of himself. He doesn't ask for much. He does his own homework, and only needs help remembering to get his reading and practice logs signed. The kid needs a brand new wardrobe every few months because he's growing so fast, but I guess we can't blame him for that ;)
But in other ways, living with Jason has been really really hard. It was a big adjustment for Sam and I to go from being a newlywed couple with no kids (I could get a late-night glass of water wearing just my underwear if I wanted!) to having a teenage child. And it's not exactly like there are a ton of other people in our situation that we can bond with.
A major portion of our worryings and prayers and late-night conversations are about Jason. I guess that's what makes you a real fake foster mom (ha) - when a lot of your efforts to go towards a child that isn't even technically yours. Jason came to us with very specific ideas about what he could and could not do, what he did and did not believe, and what he was and was not good at. I've been trying so hard to help him have a more open mindset. Especially when it comes to his capacities - he is so much more talented than he thinks he is!
But altogether, it's been wonderful. Having Jason live with us has been an incredible experience. I will always remember how excited he was when we told him I was pregnant. He paced around the room for almost an hour asking questions and doing his excited hands and asking if he could sleep in the same room as the baby. He has such a fun imagination and wit, and he's always making us laugh. He does his chores without complaining (most of the time, that is!), and he's so good with baby Claire.
The bottom line is: we love him to death. So happy two years to us! It's been a crazy and wild ride, and we wouldn't change it for anything.