This week we see the end of one chapter in our family life and the start of a new one.
I can hardly believe that it was over 5 years ago when Mrs C and I realised that we could no longer cope with Flossy's behaviour and that the only path forward for us as a family was for me to leave work, become a full time father, and try to work 'it' out together.
Scary days, how would we pay the bills, what would happen, would we make it?
For six months straight I was up with Flossy at 4:30am, she would scream and shout, throw kitchen stools at me, bite me until I bled. We were on the ropes.
Slowly we learnt the rhythms of a bruised mind and heart, of crushing fear and anxiety, of overwhelming stress and uncertainty. We learnt to respond not react, to plan ahead, to second guess and to soak up pain and anger. A different type of parenting, counterintuitive, gentle, hard work.
I volunteered as an independent member of a Local Authority Adoption Panel.
Mrs C did likewise.
We continued to learn. We attended every free and paid for seminar, read every book we could find, sought out experts and those with experience.
We saw changes, pressures eased so we planned a career change for me and signed me up for a Social Work degree.
For the last three years we've all worked hard to see that come to a positive conclusion, with me graduating in June'13.
Flossy and Lotty's little sister Peanut arrived in April 2013 and we all had a summer together without the pressures of work and we were blessed.
Offers of jobs arrived, and were accepted.
Tomorrow I start full time work, again (albeit part time for two agencies = full time).
I will be a Social Worker, I have passed through the veil, endured trials and tribulations and now I sit on the other side of the coffee table, with notebook and tricky questions to ask.
I have a lot to learn, more than I ever thought when I was 27 years old in 1999 when the Big One, Gracie and Ginger arrived.
Balancing children's needs (appointments at psychotherapy, social workers, support workers etc.) with work will be a challenge, but it is for every parent.
Looking back it is easy to see the start and end of chapters, that's hindsight for you, but it is exciting to see a new one coming.
The last five years have been amazing, challenging, heartbreaking and wonderful. We have been blessed and I have had the pleasure of knowing my children in a way that I never dreamed possible.
What does the future hold? We make plans and God laughs.
But if I'm allowed to guess then tough times for teenagers as independent living looms (not necessarily everyones first choice), chemical assistance perhaps for a little one and we've planned a holiday, the first 'proper' holiday in 9 years.
On that note I'm off to make my pack lunch and try on my SW clothes.
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