When we were only weeks away from meeting the girls, our social worker came to visit one afternoon to go through some more of the final procedure and to also ask if we would be happy to have a support worker come and visit us once every two weeks. Bare in mind after nineteen years waiting for a child we would have done almost anything to make the dream a reality, I agreed. I do remember thinking if they were arranging support before I even met the girls, they couldn’t have much faith in my ability to parent these children.
Well, AJ and Bart came home and the first support worker visit approached. We had been briefly introduced to Gail at our planning meeting the day before we saw our children, but as you can imagine, I remembered nothing about her. (I actually don’t remember much about the meeting at all apart from the bit that we needed to inform them if one of the girls died…) Anyway, I cleaned the house, tidied the toys, had the kids spotless, kettle was boiling, cake and biscuits were ready. I was a nervous wreck waiting to be judged as a bad mother.
Within five minutes Gail had me at ease. She was not there to judge and didn’t. She was there to help. Sometimes she gave advice, sometimes she just listened. She passed on knowledge she had gained through her career and tips she had learnt from others. Our meetings became weekly for a while and something I came to cherish and depend on.
Then as we began to settle as a family she visited less often. We would chat on the phone once a month, or I would get a little text message, just to know she was there. When AJ was going through a particularly bad food stage this year, I contacted Gail and she came out to run some ideas past me and just listen. Although I didn’t need her as I much as in the beginning, having her in the background helped.
So imagine my shock and dismay when a letter came through the door to tell me Gail was leaving. She had handed in her notice and was moving away. This was my invite to her goodbye get together. Unfortunately I could not make it, but I managed to get hold of Gail and invite her for a cup of coffee. So on Friday afternoon we sat down in the local Starbucks and chatted a little bit about the past two and a half years, our perceptions of each other in the beginning and the how things had changed. We spoke a little bit about the girls and how they had grown both physically and in personality. But mainly we chatted about her. About the move and her career. Her family and future, the way friends do.
When it was time to say goodbye, she paid me the biggest complement. “Charlotte,” she said “I will always have all the time in the world for you and Jay, because what ever I suggested you do to help your girls, you tried. Some things worked, some things didn’t. But you always had a go”
Thank you Gail, for everything.