Foster Care and Pride Don't Mix

I've desperately wanted to give up foster care and parenting every single day over the past seven days. I've felt as though it just wasn't for me. That I was never cut out to be a mom.

I have missed my old life every day as well. I've longed for just two hours alone with my husband, for the chance to sit down at a restaurant and eat an entire meal and drink at least two glasses of wine. I've found myself easily frustrated and wondering why we even got into foster care. I've thought that I'm doing more harm than good in the three littles lives.

It's been a rough week. Not that any of the {almost} four weeks that we've had Baby T, Little C, and Little A have been easy. Because they haven't been anything but terribly difficult.
All mom's feel this way. At least that's what I've been told. Every mom feels inadequate and as though they aren't exactly cut out for guiding little people through the ups and downs of toddlerhood, childhood and adolescence. But it's been hard for me to truly believe that anyone really understands just how inadequate I feel.

I was talking venting to my mom about it all. And as I did so, I mentioned that it wasn't just up to me. That there was Justin to consider and how good he is with kids. Because he is an amazing dad and does so many things much better than I ever could.

He's the only reason we haven't given up. I'd be out the door and on my way to a life of fancy freeness if it weren't him to remind me, usually gently and sometimes not so gently, that we are here, in the midst of the struggle and the darkness, for a purpose and that we are not to run away.

We're realizing more and more, though, that we need help. And here's the thing... I hate to ask for help.

I know everyone says that. Just like everyone says they are terrible parents. But the truth of the matter is, asking for help is the most difficult thing for me. And when I do ask for help, if someone says no in a certain manner, I take it personally. That no tells me there is something wrong with me. It's not that that person doesn't really want to help; rather it's that that person doesn't want to help me.

It's pride. And a lot of other ugly things. And God is ripping it all to shreds.

I'm not at a place where I am ready {or able} to stay home and not work. I'm also not at a place where I am willing to give up graduate school. Because if I did either of those things, I would resent and regret it for the rest of my life. I refuse to let more resentment and regret infiltrate my life.

So I need help. Which means I need to get over myself and over this pride and suck it up when people say no (even when the way they do so hurts) and ask for more help.

The help we need is sometimes spur of the moment - like this past Friday when Baby C couldn't go to daycare due to a fever and rash.. All a product of his allergy to penicillin that we didn't know about. That's one thing that sucks about foster care; you have no real clue about any of the medical history.

Other times the help is tangible and something easily planned for. Like meals and laundry and cleaning our house.

Regardless of what kind of help it is, I can tell you that we need it all the time. Just this weekend, Justin and I began discussing how we might pay for someone to help us approximately 20 hours per week. We also, just tonight, began discussing having someone clean our house on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. We also need help with laundry.

There just isn't enough time to do everything. Having three littles, all with their specific needs, is time consuming and daunting and exhausting. Add into the three all the past traumas and you get a recipe for sleepness nights and more darkness than you could ever expect to see in such small people. And oh the laundry and toys everywhere. I am jealous of all the people who have just one child; they have no idea just how good {and easy} they have it.

Justin and I so appreciate all the prayers. We need those, too. We need them constantly. But our tangible needs are there, too. I'm just hopeful and prayerful that somehow those tangible needs will be met.

So please join us in praying for the following five specific items. There are more. When you're fostering kids and in the midst of the sort of life we are, there are always more, but I figure five is enough for now. And feel free to reach out to us with solutions for the things we need; I'm lying down my pride {and will remind myself to continue to do so - hourly} and reminding myself that God will meet us where we are and that it's good to ask for help.
  1. Part-time help. Approximately 20 hours a week (maybe less) and preferably for cheap (or free!). Someone consistent so our littles don't have to experience too much change.
  2. House cleaning. At least bi-weekly if not weekly. Preferably cheap (or, again, free!).
  3. Laundry service. This is the bane of my existence and one of my least favorite things in the entire world.
  4. Meals. It would be incredible to not always have to worry about cooking. This would also ensure that Justin and I actually ate dinner because most nights we take a few bites and give the rest to the littles.
  5. A new car {no, but seriously...}. Preferably one that seats 7. Something like a GMC Arcadia.


The Truth About Being a Foster Mom

This past week has been hard. Difficult. Excruciating. {Nearly} Impossible. Exhausting. Rough.

I've wanted to give up nearly every day. In fact, had it been up to me, I would have.

It all started on Wednesday night. We had our first.. episode.. with Little A. I had a feeling, a rumbling in my gut that told me, things were not going to end well that evening. At first, I thought it was just my negative side. Or the side of me that just wanted to be at home rather than at our church's celebration. Then, after Justin arrived with the littles, I knew it was more than just that side of me.

I tried to change my attitude; though, to be honest, I didn't try quite as hard as I could have. But we realized (a little too late) that our littles were not yet ready for such a big outing, one that took them away from their schedule and thrust them into an entire universe of unknowns.
When we got home, the unknowns continued. Justin and I are still rather new to this whole parenting thing and this whole foster parenting thing, and as newbies, we have quite a lot to learn still. This includes how to handle unknowns when arriving home. {Note: It does not involve trying to bribe children with cookies and milk and television/movies.}

Little A is still learning how to effectively communicate, and we are still learning how to understand and communicate back. Wednesday night showed how much we all have left to learn.

Wednesday was the second day I felt as though I weren't sick after a Sunday and Monday of feeling rundown and nauseous.  But that ended that evening.

I felt like I took on every emotion Little A had and felt it in my {lack of an} immune system. I was run down. And run over as though an 18-wheeler plowed through me. That all continued into Thursday, and I ended up at the doctor where I was diagnosed with an ear infection, strep throat {apparently my tonsils were utterly grotesque - so much so he didn't need to test me to confirm it was strep}, and an upper respiratory infection.

Needless to say, I spent the next 72 hours on the couch, alternating between tears and sleep, shivering and sweating, eating only chicken noodle soup and struggling to swallow. It was not pretty.

Being sick and trying to parent is virtually impossible. Especially with Little C on antibiotics from an ear infection diagnosed the weekend before and Baby T being placed on antibiotics the Friday of my sickness for an ear infection. Needless to say our house was not the most enjoyable this week, and my husband is an absolute miracle as he cared for me and for three kids predominantly on his own all week and weekend.

Did I also mention I have still been working - other than when I was on my death bed? And that it's midterms as well? Whoops.

I feel like I'm failing at everything I do. Work, {foster} motherhood, graduate school. Life in general.

And while I may not be doing everything as well as I would like, I'm still doing it. That alone should mean a lot. And it does.

Life might be easier if I took something out of the equation. Working. Or graduate school. Even foster parenting. And last week I was ready to take something out of the equation. My husband, however, stopped me. He shouldered the burden and the responsibility. He nursed me back to health. He held our family together. And he joked with me that my "not good enough" for graduate school will likely translate into a B paper instead of an A paper {which is still up for debate}.

So many people have said we're doing a great thing. That they're proud of us. And I want to tell them that it's all a facade. That really we're floundering and struggling. Because, here's the thing, I do not have it all together.

I get mad. I bite my tongue - almost until it bleeds. I clench my teeth. I use the wrong tone. I get quite exasperated. I cry {a lot}. I cringe when the kids wake up before 7am. We eat too much macaroni and cheese. I don't push vegetables {because the kids won't eat them}. I buy canned fruit. Frozen pizza and frozen lasagna have become staples. Little A's hair is constantly messy, and Little C's jeans sometimes fall off when he walks. I go three to four days without washing my hair.

And I daily {multiple times a day daily} ask for forgiveness. I also pray - like all of the time.
Foster care isn't for the faint at heart. Not only are you parenting but you are parenting kids who don't really belong to you, who might leave the next day, whose history you'll never quite get.

But life also isn't for the faint at heart. Nothing is.

So I'm going to stand firm - at least tonight. Tomorrow I might be filled with tears, wrestling a stuffy nose and crying out to God. But tonight, I'm going to remember that He is present and thank Him for a husband who is strong enough to tell me no and strong enough to nurse me back to health with lots of chicken noodle soup from Chik-Fil-A.

{Thank you to everyone who blessed us over the past week. Thank you for the dinners, the prayers, the hugs, the text messages, the Facebook posts, and the understanding. I'm overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.}


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