We are probably known amongst our friends as "The Hillbillies".
I always remember shortly after having baby number five, being left alone at home with baby number five only, whilst Hubby went supermarket shopping with the other four. Or something equally exciting. The exact details elude me. I seized the moment, baby asleep, and slumped in front of the TV. It was before the days of Sky in the Lomax household and so daytime tele was uninspiring and dated at best, so it was no surprise when The Waltons made their appearance. Nonetheless it did give rise to a chuckle on my part.
For many we were at that point the "Hillbillies" amongst our little social set. As my own mother had so pointedly said at the time of my pregnancy announcement "Nobody has five children nowadays Sally"......
So when child number seven, eight, nine and ten arrived last July by way of foster children it was possibly unsurprising that many more of our friends started to steer clear. Invitations stopped - fear perhaps that this phenomenon was possibly catching and that by inviting us to parties they might too end up with ten children. And of course, there is possibly the fear that they might actually get a visit of twelve guests should they invite Hubby and me round for a cuppa. And believe me dear friends you would probably NOT want that. Some of our charges do not always have the sunniest of dispositions, putting it mildly...Visits from relatives and friends almost completely stopped - understandably, as the noise levels in our house do now reach unbelievable decibel heights. And sanity? Well THAT went out of the window long ago.
The weight fell off though. I took the pills from the doc, but to be honest, given the number that I forgot to take due to ridiculous schedules, sleepless nights and tantrum ridden children to deal with, I am not really sure that they have been fully responsible. What is possibly more relevant is the lack of time to actually eat properly and the extra running up and down our stairs.
The latest four children are in fact a sibling group, the eldest being 7 and the youngest a baby of just 1. (She was four months on arrival...) We already had one foster child in place with us, a little boy of seven who is severely developmentally delayed and doesn't speak. Actually, we had two other foster children in place for a few weeks, as, in their wisdom Social Services had arranged for the placement of "the four" on the day that the eldest foster child was leaving us. They didn't anticipate however that "eldest foster child" wasn't happy with his future plans and had got himself an advocate... who said that "he was NOT to leave the Lomaxes until a suitable alternative arrangement had been found." He was happy with us and, although he wanted to move on to live in independent accommodation it would not be until he was happy with the proposed plans.
It was a busy summer...
Eldest foster child finally left us mid September, leaving us with just the five and it was at this point that I was offered the opportunity to act in a theatre tour in December and a bit of January.
"Do it" said Eldest Daughter. "Where there's a will..."
"We'll manage" said Hubby.
Now luckily, I already had a saint of a cleaner in place by this time. I say saint because I am not quite sure how she can come in here as often as she does with a smile on her face and still have a smile on her face when she leaves. The mess that she encounters from our lot, the constant overturning of a day's good work sometimes only a matter of hours from her last visit must be demoralising, but still she continues to smile. And not only does she smile and clean, but it just so happened that prior to having her own little girl 18 months ago, she had worked with children "in care" who were SO challenging that they had had to be moved on to some form of institutional housing. So that is how the perfect babysitter arrived. Probably the only person in the world at the particular time in question, who would be mad and capable enough to help us out, happened to land in our lap via the cleaning agency.
And so it was, we did manage. For a couple of months I did it all. Ten children and a professional acting tour.
Not something that I can repeat too often of course in the current situation...
Which is why dear friends my writing has come to almost a complete standstill of late.
We know not... there are talks of possible adoption plans for the children afoot. The courts will decide all that in due course. Until then they will stay with us until more permanent arrangements have been made for them. Meanwhile the baby and the two year old are becoming more attached to us by the day. The baby especially has had us as her parents from four months old and really sees us as the significant people in her life. It is going to be very hard on all of us when they are moved on.
I suggested to Hubby that we adopt the baby ourselves.
He looked at me as if I had gone completely mental.
Social Services then asked us if we would consider adopting the eldest of the four - because of course to have three aged 4 and under adopted together is a more likely adoption scenario and would make their job more doable. But adopting a reluctant seven year old who is fully aware of where she has come from is not something that many would take on easily.
So then it was my turn to look at the social worker as if she had gone mental.
And in the meantime we live day to day in our little haze, juggling from one moment to the next.
But thankfully we do have babysitters and very useful older children who babysit, so we do still try to accept invitations with enough notice. But not at Christmas and Easter and other major bank holidays.......
And when out, we can still make ourselves look quite respectable, for Hillbillies.