Well... Ready or not, here we go! We are getting closer to Monkey's 10-month hearing, and it looks like he will be going home to his dad at that time. Still not sure of the court date, but it will most likely be mid-late March.
I have been taking off work to transport Monkey to his weekly visits for the past several weeks, and have had the opportunity to spend more and more time with his dad. A few weeks ago, I posted about the possibility of keeping Monkey at night while his dad was at work. I've been extremely guarded, and my initial instincts of thinking that it was The Invisible One's idea in the first place proved to be correct.
But... I decided to offer to keep him.
(I know... I know... No lectures until you hear the whole story, pretty please! ;-)
Things I have learned and experienced first-hand over the past several weeks:
* While the initial idea of me keeping Monkey at night was The Invisible One's, his dad genuinely would prefer me to keep him.
* Dad didn't know until this week that I was even considering the possibility, and he did do the work to find childcare for Monkey. The fact that he did the work was a major deciding factor for me. If he hadn't, I wouldn't have offered. He had found a licensed, homecare, overnight facility that got really good reviews, and who would have kept Monkey overnight and through the morning so dad could sleep. But when The Invisible One told him earlier this week that I had agreed to keep Monkey if his dad was okay with it, he was relieved.
* Dad and I had a long conversation after Monkey's visit this morning, and he told me that he was so happy that I offered to do this. He told me all about the center that he had chosen, but said several times that Monkey doesn't know them. He said that Monkey loves me, and he knows that I take such good care of him. He said that he knows that Monkey is going to be sad when he leaves me, and that this would be easier for him.
* Dad doesn't want to have his daughters watch Monkey (like Scary CASA Lady and The Invisible One told me the other day) because of a strained relationship with their mother and school and work issues for the girls. He said that his older daughter (who I learned is 26), is excited to help on the weekends, but can't during the week.
* Dad's backup is actually his brother who owns his own business and can be here if he's needed. He told me that he trusts his brother more than anyone, and was trying to reassure me that Monkey would be in good hands with him if I couldn't watch him for any reason and Dad couldn't get off work. :-) Early in Monkey's case, they had considered doing a homestudy on his brother as a relative placement, but his parents decided against it because he lives about 90 minutes away.
* Monkey's dad has been nothing but kind, respectful, and appreciative towards me from the very beginning of this case. He's kind of shy, and when he gets desperate, he will argue with his own toenails, but the more contact I have with him, the more I like him. He has been steady, has done everything they've asked of him (and then some!), and really does seem to have Monkey's best interests at heart. When we talked today about the logistics and details of how this would work, he promised me that I can depend on him and that I don't have to worry about him paying me or being late. I honestly have no worries about any of that. Monkey's dad has been so consistent over the past ten months that I'm inclined to trust him.
But I honestly think the major deciding factor for me has been in watching the interaction between Monkey and his dad over the past several weeks. I remember the exact moment two years ago when I knew that Booger Bear was going to be okay when he left me. His dad was on his way to pick up Booger for one of their afternoon visits, and I told Booger, "Hey Booger! Daddy's coming to get you!" His face lit up and he ran to the front door and waited for his daddy to come, all the while talking about what all he and his daddy were going to do when he came. Over the past few weeks, seeing the interaction between Monkey and his dad, I see that same excitement and ease in Monkey. He's not hesitant to leave my arms and go to his daddy. In fact, today he was having a hard time deciding who he wanted, throwing himself from his daddy to me to his daddy to me! Today was my definite "My baby's going to be okay" moment. Babies have great instincts when it comes to people. If Monkey loves and trusts his dad, I think I can give the trust thing a try. :-)
So today, we worked out the logistics of how this will work. Everything was going great until he said, "It would be from 8:15pm to 1:00 the next afternoon on Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon." WHOA! HOLD THE PONIES! I HAVE TO WORK!!! So, of course, I did what any woman about to lose her baby would do... I called my Mommy! Well, first I ran my idea past Monkey's dad, and he was comfortable with it, so I told him that I would ask my mom to make sure she could do it. She said "yes." She doesn't want to lose Monkey any more than I do. :-)
The plan is for Monkey to be at my house from 8:15pm to 1:00pm on Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon and then from 8:15pm to 7:30am Thursday morning. His dad is off Thursday-Saturday. Monday through Wednesday, my mom will come to my house and watch Monkey when I have to go to work until his dad picks him up by 1:00 at the latest. This way, his dad can sleep and Monkey is always with someone he knows and loves. I'm just going to pay my mom out of what his dad pays me. Heck! I'd give her all of it if it means I still get to have my Monkey four days a week! :-)
I'm still not completely committing long-term. I told The Invisible One that I will do this on a trial basis while CPS is still monitoring Monkey's case so I will have a buffer there if I need it. I don't anticipate any problems, but if for some reason things don't work, I'll know that CPS will still be there to make sure Monkey is okay.
There's lots more to tell, but this post has already turned into a novel! Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on Monkey's mom and details from the last few visits... In the meantime, wish us luck! Big changes are coming our way, but I'm optimistic that everything is going to be okay. :-)