Hello, you left me a voicemail.

For the past year, it’s been increasingly odd for this to happen. I hate answering the phone but I’ve been answering the phone because I never know who is calling, or why. I’ve reached a point, however, where I think I have all the important numbers saved to my contacts, so I’ve become more comfortable with not answering the others.

Also, over the past week, I’ve been taking care of my kids. Or going to work. That has been about it, but those things are pretty consuming. I resent the second every minute because it is screwing up the first one. But it’s just me, so there’s not really any other choice, short of winning the lottery, which I haven’t done yet.

Let me explain a few things. There is not one person in this house that functions well when overscheduled, and we have a low threshold. We have also had appointments for the past eight weeks. We have not had a free Friday in eight weeks. I hit my limit four weeks ago. My kids have hit their limit. We are done. I am in survival mode and have been for a while. I am currently deferring to my amygdala on all issues. You will get fight or flight. Fight is socially unacceptable so you will get flight. Basically, I will probably not be calling you back because my brain has decided that doing so would threaten the safety of my family and I will certainly die.

I’ve tried to talk to my brain about this but it kind of does its own thing during these times. It’s already a bit put out that our last conversation detoured down the path of “What about another day during the week?” after I said Fridays are the only day that work for us. This path continued on for a while until I was faced with the decision to be rude and interrupt you, or hear you out just to say no. I chose the latter, because rude. As I was hearing you out, my kid ran back in the house to grab a loaf of bread to bring outside. I don’t even know why. We need bread, and I need to see where my children are, so I was trying to patiently hear you out so I could say no while also nonverbally correcting a kid that won’t listen to verbal corrections once that kid’s mind is fixated on accomplishing a task (in this case, a loaf of bread). I was successful at neither. I don’t enjoy explaining my work schedule and boundaries to people any more than you like hearing them, and it’s a touchy subject for me right now due to being survival mode and having no time ever, so when I say “Fridays work best for us”, please just limit your speculation of appointment times to Fridays and save us all the trouble while also ensuring that we have bread so I can make sandwiches my kids will refuse to eat.

Your background in mental health and/or psychology should be enough to understand this, but let’s talk for a minute about hypervigilance as well. Hypervigilance is my jam. There may have been a time when I didn’t live in this state but I can’t remember when it was. If I say “Fridays” and you say “What about Tuesday” I am internally FREAKING OUT because it is a red flag and why are you violating my boundaries and why do you want me to suffer and why do you not respect me and my life choices. Please understand, it’s not you, it’s me.

I see red flags of boundary violations in everything. I know this is because I have so few boundaries I can actually set. I know it is because for this period of our lives right now, that’s just the way it goes. But I hate every day that this phase of our lives, which should be one of my favorites, is spent in survival mode.

I want the best for my kids. I hope at this point I have proven that to some extent I know what that is. I know my initial input was dismissed as naive and overly optimistic because my story was so different from the story that was being told. I think we’ve proven ourselves by now, but just in case, here’s a list of all the new things people have said about my children, starting with our first doctor’s appointment a couple weeks after I got them. Here are the changes everyone saw. Here are some developmental assessments. Here’s my master’s degree, summa cum laude, which I completed early over the past year with them. I never stopped or took a term off. Wasn’t school part of what inconvenienced the last people who were telling you about them? Because I did both, alone. So I think I’ve earned the right to say some of this.

If all of these appointments and services help my kids or help me, I will be on board. I am on board because I want my childcare issues alleviated. But I’m not worried about them in this area. I have areas where I worry, but this isn’t one of them – unless you count the worry that their strengths will be overlooked, that their needs will be misinterpreted due to their being in foster care. I see myself in both of them, and I was a gifted kid, and had all of the issues that go along with giftedness. I want this considered for them, because I see hints. I don’t want it to necessarily be true and I don’t equate giftedness with high achieving. A high achieving kid is way easier. But if it is true, then I want them to have what they need. And what they will need is unstructured time to just be and time to pursue their own interest for the day, and an environment that will actually challenge them. They will need what I didn’t have in school.

And right now, regardless of any diagnoses or IQ, they need unstructured time because they are children. They need it more than the therapies and intervention. They’re in daycare, which I hate at the same time I love the convenience of it. They seem to do well enough and enjoy it, and more power to them. But they need time to just exist and tear my house apart, and we need time to be a normal family, and actually do things. And they are little, and that means we have even less time than other people because routines and schedules and logistics of taking two tiny people out into the world.

So that’s why I haven’t called you back.

We’re free in January. I’m guarding December with everything in me. December is for us, and for the appointments we have to keep. I will shield them from as much of “foster care” as I can, which admittedly isn’t enough. Make it work.

Also, neither their names nor genders are confusing, so we can stop that routine now, everyone in the world. It’s gotten old.