We are in the final stages of re-opening our home for foster care. We’ve had the home studies, built the crib and spread the news. Now we just wait and see where God leads this journey.
It’s an interesting journey to be on the second time around as we know what to expect – to an extent – but there is still an air of uncertainty and angst.
We know how to answer most of the questions from people, but there is still a lot we can’t explain.
We have heard most of the comments, but some still catch us off guard. The comment that I hear most frequently is “I would love to do foster care, but I’d get too attached”
I’m not sure if this comment makes me sad or angry. I know people say it and mean well, but it bothers me.
Let me clarify something – I get attached. The stark reality is these children are not mine and (most of the time) in letting them go, I am aiding the system in a success story.
It doesn’t always work like that in the broken system, but whether we want to believe it or not, the happiest ending is a healthy reunification. The happiest ending is when these children are able to live in a safe and healthy environment with their biological family.
The happiest ending is the one where I plant a seed of love and faith and that child takes it home and shares it with their family.
The happiest ending isn’t about me.
Getting attached is exactly what these children need. They need someone to love them, teach them and support them in this most traumatic time of their life. They need someone willing to get attached to their brokenness in an effort to make them whole.
These children need the exact thing you’re declaring as a weakness.
By God’s grace, I am able to get attached and to let go. By God’s grace, I am able to embrace the journey, the heartache, the triumphs. Only by God’s grace am I able to be a foster parent.
The next time you think about saying you couldn’t be a foster parent because you’d get attached, think about what you’re implying.
You’re implying these children aren’t worth getting attached to.
It’s not easy. It’s down right hard at times, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because these children deserve to know happiness, safety and love.
It’s worth it because these children and their futures are worth it.
Getting attached is exactly what they need.
Dear Defeated Mama,
Take a deep breath.
Breathe out the defeat, sadness, frustration and doubt.
Some days are harder than others, but you’ve got this and you’re doing a great job!
Listen to me…you’re doing a great job!
I may be speaking more to myself than to you at this point, but we all need to hear it. Especially on the days of limited sleep, toddler tantrums or school-age back-talk, we need to hear it.
We’re not perfect nor will we ever be. We’re human, we will thrive and face plant in the same day. We will have mommy highs and mommy lows within minutes of each other and we will self-criticize and self-doubt far more than we encourage or believe in ourselves.
Yesterday, I found myself sitting in the car in tears after my children behaved atrociously at the gym play space. I was mortified as the teenage worker ran down the list of their transgressions and I wanted to climb under a rock and hide! I feel like their behavior, every minute of every day, is a direct reflection on my parenting.
I feel judged, embarrassed and defeated.
What am I doing wrong that my children can’t control themselves for even an hour while I work out? Where are they learning to disrespect their elders or talk back? Am I teaching them that?!
How have I messed this up so badly?
I bet you’ve thought these things in some form or another. If you haven’t, please contact me and fill me in on your secret! We are our worst critic and we often forget that our children are just that…children.
Is their behavior excusable? Absolutely not, but their every move also is not a direct reflection on our parenting. Children are testing boundaries and figuring out life. They are learning what they have control over and how to control their own bodies. Every day is a new experiment for them.
We have bad days, too. We say things we shouldn’t, we do things impulsively or we are in a rotten mood. As adults we have the ability to work through our frustrations, identify them and make adjustments. As children, they’re still figuring that out.
Their bad day does not mean bad parenting! Their bad day is an opportunity for teaching moments, forgiveness, grace and love.
And while we’re extending forgiveness, grace and love to our children when they’re, quite honestly less than desirable, we need to grant it to ourselves as well.
Take a deep breath, mama! Allow forgiveness, grace and love to seep into your pores. You’re doing a good job! You’ve got this!
Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh slate and a chance to breathe the fresh, clean air of grace.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Be weak with me, defeated mama, for God’s grace covers us over and over again. Through our transparency, our weakness, we will lift him up.
A Mama in the Trenches with You
My husband and I recently returned from an Alaskan cruise. We were gone for almost eleven days with little to no phone or internet service. We knew our children were well taken care of and we didn’t spend our time talking about the kids, the money or work. We simply talked.
We enjoyed one another.
It seems odd to say, but we don’t often get the opportunity to focus on each another. We spend our days tag-teaming life, taking turns transporting small humans from one place to another. We focus on tackling to-do lists, maintaining a semi-clean abode and not completely failing at this job of rearing children.
We don’t have time to focus on each other.
But we need to make time.
So often we give all of ourselves to our children and forget to make time for our significant others, and even ourselves. It’s such a destructive act! Our children should be a priority, but so should our significant other. If our relationship with our significant other is not being nurtured, our children are suffering, too.
The relationship with our significant other is the soil in which our children grow. It is our responsibility to ensure it is rich in love, kindness and respect.
Although I knew cultivating my relationship was important prior to our vacation, it became blatantly obvious while away. In our uninterrupted time, we laughed, we planned, we reminisced. We bonded, we grew and we enjoyed.
It was a beautiful time of connection.
It was a needed time of connection.
It was a reminder of the importance of stopping to take time.
It doesn’t have to be eleven days away in the middle of the ocean or wilds of Alaska; it simply has to be purposeful.
Wake up early and spend your quiet time in the presence of one another. Talk to God then talk to each other. Connect before the chaos of the day interrupts your best laid plans.
Stay up after the children go to bed, without cell phones and without television. Talk about your day, your plans, each other. Simply talk. All too often simple communication gets drowned out in the cacophony of every day noise.
Make date night a priority and schedule it on the calendar. I know it’s difficult, and often expensive, to find time to get away, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Even a few hours walking through the park can mend bridges and patch the little holes of discontent that happen in the chaos of life.
Making time for your significant other and ensuring your relationship remains a top priority will not only benefit you together, but it will benefit your family as a whole. I am so blessed by my mother and aunt who watched my children while we were away. I’m blessed they encouraged us to take the time and aided in the strengthening of our relationship.
Today, I encourage you to find time for your significant other and lift up the relationship that started it all.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be extravagant, it simply needs to be purposeful.
Mother’s Day is such an interesting day for me, having many facets of emotion. There is always a small part of me that balks at the Facebook posts detailing someone’s pregnancy journey from how they looked pregnant to how long their labor was. I will never be able to ‘copy and paste’ and no matter how many years it’s been, and how much I have come to terms with it, a part of me still stirs.
Another part of me revels in the beautiful blessing of my four children and stands in awe that God created these babies just for me. The making of our family may be relatively unconventional, but it was perfectly planned by my Almighty Father. Mother’s day doesn’t go by without my recognition of that.
A large part of me also recognizes the gift I have in my own mother. The woman who taught me love, compassion and generosity and still exhibits them all today. The woman who jumps when I’m in need, comforts when I’m sad and joyfully experiences this roller coaster of life by my side. My mother is a woman I don’t deserve and not a day goes by, Mother’s Day or otherwise, I don’t thank God for her.
The final part of me is only understood by few. The final part of me grieves for the biological mothers of my children. Regardless of their choices, the path of their life, I will spend my day with their babies and they won’t. That hurts my heart.
I can’t imagine they don’t think about their little people as the stores, television commercials and Facebook light up with Mother’s Day. I can’t imagine they don’t wonder about where they are, how they’re doing and what they’ve become.
Mother’s Day is a mix of emotions for me, but I can’t imagine what it is for them.
A Mother’s Day Prayer for all ….
Dear Heavenly Father,
What a special opportunity to honor our mothers. To acknowledge the sacrifice of motherhood, the joys and the heartaches. I pray we each find time to thank you today. Thank you for our mothers. We know every situation is unique, but we also know that you stand with us in each. Your love flows through us and allows us to overflow to others.
For the mother who has lost a child, may God’s peace and comfort wrap around you.
For the child who has lost a mother, may you know God’s embrace and his steadfast love.
For the woman who can not bear children, may you believe in God’s plan and know motherhood comes in many different forms and facets. May God wash away your tears of frustration, replacing them with ones of hope.
For the mother and child who are estranged, may God work between you, mending the brokenness with his love and grace. May you believe in second, third, fourth and more chances and the power of love.
For the foster-mother, may you feel the peace of knowing you’re sharing God’s love and creating a foundation for these children that can not be broken. Although your motherhood may come in spurts, you are essential.
For the adoptive mother, may you recognize the blessing in your children. May you look into their eyes and see a child whom God created just for you.
Lord, I pray that all women, all mothers of different kinds feel your love today, pouring on them from all angles. May they each embrace the path you’ve designed for them and encourage one another. You, God, are perfect in all ways and we thank you.