As Foster Parents we have heard it several times, “Oh, y’all are amazing!! I don’t know how you do it!!”
True Confession: Sometimes we suck as foster parents. There you have it. Real life. Transparency. Open book.
We wish we didn’t. We wish it was fairy tales, cotton candy, and white picket fences. But, let’s face it. When we willingly opened ourselves up to take on four children that we did not have anything to do with for the first 20 months, 5 years, 7 years, and 9 years of their lives we opened ourselves up to a BIG task!
From day one, we began to take on the stress of their trauma, the frustration of their boundaries, their struggle with food issues, and the heartache of their hearts.
We willingly chose to do something fundamentally in contrast to our human nature side that shouts ‘protect yourself, protect your family, protect your nice little life.’ Why on earth would we choose to reject that shout?? Because, we hate playing it safe, and well, we hate white picket fences!!
But, that does not make it easy.
We get asked the same question 20 gazillion times! Not 19.999999 gazillion, literally 20 gazillion. Most people’s patience runs out at 11 gazillion, so give us some props people. Just last week we had a 10 minute conversation about glow sticks and if they would make your skin light up if you busted it open. After answering the question 17 times, there was absolutely no redirecting, NONE, I tell you. They just kept going and going and going. What the crap?!? At that point, one of us (whom shall remain nameless) said, “We are done, and now we will never get that 10 minutes of oxygen back EVER, thank you.” Therapeutic? No. But, we are being transparent, right?
Food issues?? Oh man, these are hard! Some of it there is no rhyme or reason too, they simply Will. Not. Eat. It. As parents, one of us understands this a little, the other one is a ‘eat what I give you kind of person’. So, do we always make the best decisions with food issues? Nope. But, the children never go hungry!! So, pat us on the back, right?
When we have been told for the 37th time that a parent was arrested for stealing from the very store we are walking through, our heart will usually do two things. First, it will break that a child had to experience that and secondly, it gets mad that a child had to experience that! Seriously, last night, while at Target we went through our whole family with one of our foster kiddos asking the question of, “Have they ever stolen anything?” Rest assured Nana, Gigi, Papa, Gramps, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jessica, Aunt Christal, and Uncle Tim you are all free and clear of any theft charges. We do our best to love the biological family, but dang if their choices don’t occasionally piss us off a bit!
Let’s see, what else makes us not so awesome? We raise our voices, we get frustrated, we feel burn out, we wonder why we can’t be more therapeutic, we ignore questions after they’ve hit their 20 gazillion max, and we don’t always respond in the way that each individual child needs in that exact moment.
But, you know what? It’s okay. God didn’t call us to be foster parents because we were perfect (well, one of us is, the other not so much!). No, He called us because He knew we would say ‘yes’. And, most days, a ‘yes’ is hard to come by when He wants His people to do something really, really hard!
It’s okay, because we love. We love like crazy!
It’s okay, because we admit our wrongs. We are a family of grace and forgiveness and ultimately, that starts with us, the parents (suck!). If they see us admit failure, they are more likely to understand it is safe to do so too.
It’s okay, because we are committed. We are committed to see the lives of these four kiddos changed.
It’s okay, because even when we are frustrated with the biological family, we know they love these kids, just in their own way. And, it’s okay if that is different than our way.
We are okay, because He called us. We are, broken, flawed, unworthy, struggling, and yet, useable.
What we know is this: It is okay to not always have it together, to struggle, to lose our patience, to get frustrated, to be stressed, and to not always respond therapeutically with every single question. No family is ever perfect, including ours. We are just willing to learn how to be better parents and love these kids better, even when we are not very lovable ourselves.
So, on the days we suck, we remember, it has never been about us, but it has always been about them and Him and that is more than enough to get up and try again.
NOW, NO. MORE. QUESTIONS ABOUT GLOW STICKS!:-)
-Howard, party of 8