I want to be brave. I just don’t want to be brave sometime in the future. But I want to be brave right now in this moment and with every aspect of my life.
Maybe that statement is odd to you. After all, I am foster
mom. Bravery is a part of my nature and blood. Except that it’s not.
When we started fostering, I believed I was brave. And it’s
possible in that moment – the moment I said yes and accepted the placements
we’ve had – I was brave. Except that bravery centered around my abilities and
my strengths. The second things got difficult, and I questioned if I was even
cut out for foster care, all of that bravery disappeared.
It’s a conversation Justin and I have had several times.
He’s noticed this trend in my life and our relationship. I become sure about
one thing and then convince him to join in. Then, when things get hard for me,
I am immediately ready to throw in the towel and give up. He, on the other
hand, is just then realizing that we are where we are supposed to.
I guess it’s a good thing we haven’t always been on the same
page. I cannot begin to imagine what life might look like if we had just given
up and given in to the feelings of failure.
Even with praying for bravery, I’ve been hiding a lot. Thoughts pop into my head,
and I commence writing an entire post all in my head. Within minutes of putting
fingers to the keyboard, the post all but disappears and immense fear takes
over. I can’t write this. I can’t share my heart. I could never express foster
care the way it deserves to be discussed and described. And what about
Some of the fears are warranted. I want to be extremely
careful with confidentiality. I never want to place myself, the littles, or my
husband in a place where I have said too much or been too explicit about any
one aspect of our lives.
Some of the fears are ridiculous. They are simply a way to
remain hidden and to keep others out of the loop in somewhat grasping foster
care and how to work through fears with foster care.
I’ve been open about the fact that foster care was much more
difficult than I expected. I’ve shared some of the milestones – like making it
100 days with three toddlers in our home. We have another milestone coming up.
365 days of parenting three toddlers.
Many people ask how we are going to celebrate. And that word
celebrate absolutely destroys my heart. Because I can’t celebrate the past 365
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m grateful for the past 365
days. They have been the most fulfilling, difficult, beautiful, and messy days
of my life. As difficult as the transition to motherhood has been for me, it
has shaped me into a person I am much more proud to be.
That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle. I do. I
struggle with immense guilt. I struggle with thoughts of never being enough. I
struggle with the balance of work, school, marriage, kids, and not losing
myself in the process. Every day brings some type of struggle. But almost every
day brings some beauty with it. I say almost every day because, let’s be
honest, sometimes it feels impossible to find anything good and all you do is
count down to when the next day will start.
One of my struggles right now is how much loss there is with
foster care. Foster care itself begins with loss – the loss of the child’s
family, the loss of safety before the child comes into custody, the loss of
stability, the loss of knowing what to expect (even if it’s harmful and scary).
I simply can’t celebrate that much loss.
A part of me still wants them to be able to go home. Because
I know how difficult it will be for them to never again be a part of a
biological family. And then a part of me is utterly terrified of the day they
The littles don’t belong to me. No child belongs to their
parents, but especially within the context of foster care when I am sometimes
nothing more than a place holder.
So as we approach 365 days of fostering and parenting three
toddlers I am aware of the pain in my heart that may never recover if I do have
to say goodbye. I am also aware of the fear I have with possibly not knowing
what will happen to the littles should they leave my home and my house. But I can’t remain in my fear. If I did, I
would not be able to move forward, and if I remained in my fear, it would hurt
Foster care is not the child’s fault. No child wants to go
through the trauma of abuse and/or neglect and then also the trauma of removal
from the home and then movement through a volatile system. And yet the children
pay the utmost price. A price that increases when adults and foster parents
hide in their fear of what it would be like if they had to say goodbye to
littles after caring for them for any length of time.
I don’t think I can say goodbye. But I know I may have too.
That’s where Jesus’ bravery comes into play. He is so much stronger and able
than I am. And if goodbye is what is said, then He will see me through, my
husband through, our families through, the littles through, and the littles
biological family through.
I type that all out, and again it seems like I am brave.
That I’m almost superhuman. And yet my lip quivers and tears flood my eyes.
Because I don’t really want to walk out this life of uncertainty and potential
farewells. I also don’t really want to be so closely aligned to hurts and
heartbreaks. Yet here I am.
Holidays are hard. Because I love these littles but my heart
breaks for the families they aren’t able to celebrate with. I do what I can and
involve the littles in whatever ways I can. This involvement, I feel, honors
the littles and their history.
I think that’s how I see the 365 day mark. It’s not a moment
to ignore. It’s a moment to honor because the littles deserve to know they are
cared for and important. And by honoring them, I don’t celebrate the loss.
Instead I acknowledge it and do my best to ensure that the littles know they
are more than just this loss. Yes, they are in foster care. But they are also
silly, stubborn, adorable, strong willed, and intelligent. That deserves honor
I guess that’s what being brave is right now. The kind of
brave I can only be with Jesus. The kind of brave that puts my heart on the
line and welcomes inevitable heartbreak for the betterment of three toddlers.