It's been 6 months since I last saw my step daughter, child 1 of 5. I live in Dubai, she lives in a care home in Gloucester.
The teen, child 5 of 5, and I took her out on Friday for the afternoon. Nothing too adventurous, a trip to the local supermarket, for lunch and a bit of shopping.
We were both shattered and badly bruised. Despite the teens best efforts, she managed to reach out and jab me in the ribs while I was driving, I received an elbow in the chest and a punch to the stomach. She rammed everyone and everything with the trolley, grabbed hold of other peoples trolleys as they walked past and actually went off with one woman. The glass spice jars narrowly escaped crashing to the floor, she refused to eat her lunch and lobbed her drinks bottle across the café.
We weren't out long enough to battle a nappy change, thankfully. The staff in the café exclaimed 'ooh she's not usually this lively, are you new members of staff?'
3 hours, that was all and we were both physically and mentally shattered.
We're visiting again tomorrow, we've decided to stay and play with her in her own home and take her for a walk around the neighbourhood.
As much as I'm getting older and find it difficult to get her in and out the car, the kids are all adults now, over 6ft tall and more than willing to help mum with their sister and spend time with her, but I don't allow them to do any of her personal care, apart from helping with outer clothing and shoes on and off. Sadly I think the last time I ever take her out on my own has now been and gone.
It's not easy admitting you can't cope any more, difficult to admit to yourself, battling with self imposed guilt that you can no longer take her days out on your own, and just a simple trip is hard work.
Peter is joining me in the UK in 2 weeks time, so we'll try again, no agenda, just keep it local and simple and keep the visits short and try not to feel guilty about being able to do more.