Saturday, January 13, 2018

Maybe this is what bravery is

It was almost midnight and over the phone he said, "The work you are doing is heroic."  I quickly pushed it out of my mind as I needed to stay on topic, but later as I willed my body to relax so it could find sleep those words came drifting back into my mind.

"The work you are doing is heroic."
"You are brave."

I keep hearing these words since becoming a foster Momma.  I need to hear them, to be reminded of the big picture.  Sometimes, though I just want to stop mid conversation and whisper that I am not.  Truly I am scared and tired.  I'm fighting hard to protect my four sweet loves.  I don't feel brave, I feel lonely.  I don't feel heroic, I feel empty.

My sweet Momma friends struggle to get there kiddos to get along or eat there vegetables, but my struggles I can't even share.  My struggles are life and death.  It doesn't matter what age the child in my care is they had to lose EVERY SINGLE THING to find safety.  Yes that sounds brave and heroic, and maybe this is what bravery is, but when you're holding a crying child who misses home, or squeezing there hand promising you are not going anywhere all you want to do is just sit beside them and cry with them... And sometimes I do.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.
~ Psalm 54:4

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Eight

Sweet Little Laughter,


You're eight!  This amazes me. Every year speeds by faster then the last and this year was a blur.  It started with us looking forward and then going to Japan. Then we found ourselves with another sweet baby boy to look after.  You are an amazing big brother.  Right this minute you're doing your math work, work of a third grader.

You helped Dad cut down the Christmas tree this year.

When I think about our trip to Japan a few things stand out.  The first was how well you slept on the flight that went half way across the world.  You slept with your head in my lap for almost the whole trip.  I kept stroking your hair and thinking it was crazy that I was taking my baby on a trip like this. But then we went to the zoo and a little girl fell cutting her knee open, you watched the whole thing happen, and immediately rushed over to me quickly explaining that you needed a band-aid so you could help this hurting girl.  That's when I realized that you were growing up into a man that made me proud.  You had no fear of the language barrier or that we were in a foreign country you just wanted to make sure she was had what she needed to be okay.

Resting as we walked around Tokyo.

Now we have this baby that adores you.  He is full of joy, but for you he has his own sounds and he lights up whenever you look at him.  I'm sure it's been an adjustment going from the youngest in the house to having a baby around all the time, but you've excelled at being a big brother.  The way you play with him when it would be more fun to do something else.  The way you offer to hold the baby so I can finish a chore or run to the bathroom.  Or how disappointed you were that I wouldn't let you change his diapers.  You love him and me so well.


You're heart is beautiful.  You notice what people need and you do everything you can to give it to them.  I'm proud of you for that.  My prayer for you this year is that your heart doesn't grow tired of helping others, and that you find the right things to be passionate over and let go of the less important things.-You know like that time you refused to have an ice cream with us because I said you couldn't spend $10 on a lollipop.  That was a time when maybe it would have been better to let go of your passion.- But your love for people is amazing, never let go of that.  It's a rare gift that you have I pray you use it wisely in the years to come.


First year as a Cub Scout.

Here's an interview with your eight year old self:
What is your favorite color? Red



What is something special to you? Baby K


L: Momma can I help give the baby a bath?
Me: Sure
L: Okay I'll get in with him.
Me: You can't get in with him.
L: Okay then I'll use my hair to get him wet.
(And he dunks his head before I could stop him.)

What is your favorite word or saying? But what if...


What is your favorite thing to do? Read


I'd say you're fairly comfortable at the library-shoes off with books all around while you're imagination soars.

Who is your favorite super hero? Dad


You're favorite shield was the lid to my applesauce pan.  You have been trying to find one just like it for months.

What is your favorite book or book series? The Imagination Station series


I have a billion photos that look just like this.

What is your favorite memory from this past year? Japan.  Being with Ichan




What do you want to be when you grow up? A missionary

Love always,
Mother

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What's it like to be a foster parent?

Early this year we started this adventure full of unknown things to us and our friends.   A lot of our friends have started asking what's it like?  Are we glad we're doing it?  Would we be willing to adopt?  Or they've said I've always wanted to foster but I'm worried about X, Y, & Z.  So I thought maybe I'd write a bit about our experience so far.

1.  The very first thing I learned was expect the unexpected.  Things you never even dream of happening will probably happen.

2.  I didn't know just how many appointments one boy could have in a week.  It's a bit insane (This week in four days he had six appointments), but it's all necessary.  This boys whole life from living with us, to his interactions with his parents, to his medical needs are all being noted by many, many people.  It's all to decide the best place for his forever home to be, with his parents, with family, or with us.  They all have different perspectives so when all is said and done the judge will have a well rounded idea of what this boys life is like and what it is going to look like in the future.

3.  I'm in LOVE.  This is not a long term babysitting thing with a kid I like.  I mean love as in it's just as if I birthed him myself kind of love.  With that love comes a whole lot of emotion.  The grief of one day giving him back to his parents and the joy of seeing a family reconnected.  The excitement of watching him reach his milestone and grow into a healthy boy.  To the pain of watching him battle the hardships he has now, because every single child in foster care has battles they have to fight.

4.  Yes I would adopt.  I would have adopted him the moment I laid eyes on him.  I knew signing on as a foster parent the goal is reunification.  Until a judge says that's not possible that's the goal I will work towards.  What I didn't know was just how quickly I'd fall in love or how different I see life to that of his parents.

5.  I don't worry about my boys hearts being crushed.  I know when we say goodbye that it will be a deep loss to us all.  However, I want my boys to have hearts that can love unconditionally.  I want them to love others expecting nothing in return.  What better way to learn that for all of us then opening up our home, loving a helpless child just like he is ours until it's safe and right for him to go back with his parents.  What better way to work through the pain of our loss while we celebrate the baby's joy of being reunited with his family.

6.  Yes it's weird to constantly have the government in my house.  I have rules I have to follow not only in how I take care of him but my big boys as well.  For example the kids are not allowed to sleep in our bed.  So if our big boys have a bad dream in the middle of the night we can't let them curl up beside us, instead they have to go back to there own beds.  When we were going through our classes Strong man and I talked about our parenting style differences to that of the state and decided while we didn't agree with some of the rules we could follow them because in the big picture sending the boys back to bed isn't really a big deal, but letting a homeless child live with us is.

7.  Will we do it again?  That is the big question.  While we love what we are doing we think for now, at least through the new year, we're happy with just one child.  Honestly with homeschooling the big boys I'm not sure I have enough time to teach, do the normal appointments and the after school activities my big boys have, do all of the baby's appointments and then do all of the same appointments for another child.  I'm just not sure if I have enough time in my life to add another.  Time will tell for us.

8.  No our kids are not losing anything by us doing this.  Yes the boys are learning to wait because a crying baby wins over me seeing a tower they built, but the boys know as soon as I'm able they will get to show it off to me.  Yes there are times when the baby has been at a parent visit that the big ones and I have gone out for ice cream so we could have a bit of time just the three of us.  Over all they love helping with the babe.  They got as excited as I did about hearing his first laugh.  They enjoy being asked to help make bottles.  They love it when I take a shower and tell them to keep and ear out for the sleeping baby.  They feel like they have more responsibility and are being treated more like adults. They lay on the floor and play with him when he's on his mat.  They beg to hold him.  Sometimes I swear they wake him up just so they can see his smile.  My boys have only gained from this experience.

9.  How will we say goodbye?  I don't know, I'll let you know when the day comes.  As I said before we knew the goal was reunification when we started this journey.  Honestly I hope that even when he goes back to his parents we can stay involved in his life.  I hope they call when they need a sitter or invite us to birthday parties.  He may forget me, but I will always count him as one of mine.

10.  Do we recommend it?  I think if you love being parent, have the space and time, then yes.  However, I think everybody should research the different kinds abuse these kids go through.  Then set very clear guidelines for yourself about the kind of kids you'll take in.  For example we said infants only for our first one and we had a specific kind of abuse that we had spent weeks learning about so we could take care of him.  For our next I'm leaning towards one a bit older.  Honestly I don't know if I could handle children who have been physically abused.  I don't know how to deal with random violent outbreaks of hurting other children, themselves or breaking things.  Until I have time to learn more about parenting a child that's gone through that kind of trauma I've said no to physical abuse.  I've also said no to kids in my big boys age range.  We don't ever want the kids competing with each other.  We want to celebrate everybody's wins as there own.  So we've decided the kids that come in have to be in a different stage of life.  All the wins they have will be there very own wins that we can celebrate with them for all of the kids in our house, Bios and fosters.

Friday, September 29, 2017

To my soul mate,

11 years ago today I agreed to be your bride.  It was simple, well thought out and spontaneous all at the same time.  I love our story, but this year instead of writing you about the amazing memories we have had together I wanted to simply say thank you.


10 years ago we were sitting at a local Pizza Hut staring at the wall of foster kids that needed a home.  You suggested we become foster parents.  I said no.  In fact you've mentioned it often over the years and I've always said no.  That is until last November when our sweet Man of the woods suggested that since I was a good Mom and you were a good Dad and some kids needed good parents that I let them live with us.  That conversation turned into nine months later me nesting as I waited for my first call about a child that needed a home.  Two months after that call came in I'm in love with our sweet little Baby.  He's perfect.  Watching him heal and grow into a strong infant.  Seeing his first smile and hearing him coo for the first time.  Praying over his soul and situation in the darkness of night.  I love what I do.  I feel full and complete something I haven't felt in a long time.  I think most of that goes to you.


Thank you for never letting go of that dream even though it took me 10 years to climb on board.
Thank you for loving him just like he was one of ours.
Thank you for sharing the long nights with me.
Thank you for the evenings you tell me to get out allowing me to dress like an adult and to have conversations without swaying back and forth while I make faces at the babe.
Thank you for teaching our boys to love unconditionally even though someday soon we may get a phone call saying it's time to say goodbye.
Thank you for wanting to go on new adventures with me.
Thank you for letting me cry on the phone while you work because it's just been a hard day as a mother.
Thank you for hugging me through all the emotion that comes with fostering.
Thank you for arranging date nights with me.
Thank you for working hard every single day so we have a stable life and love others.
Thank you for praying for the hearts and minds of all three of our boys.
Thank you for standing by your commitment to love me no matter what.
Thank you for asking me to marry you.


You are my best friend, my soul mate.  I love living life with you and going on crazy adventures together.  I love you more today then the day I said yes.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Some days it is hard to be a Mom

Normally I'm all over how I love to do this and that with my boys.  I post the funny things they say or do.  I take frustrating situations and turn them in #Mommaofboy moments.  I usually am able to smile through the challenges of mothering.  In fact I usually love the challenges of mother.  I really enjoy homeschooling my boys.  I enjoy watching them learn and grow.  I have fun researching and ordering the programs they will use each year.  I absolutely love watching them go from not knowing at the beginning of the year to fully grasping a concept at the end of the year.  I love going on scouting adventures with them, even when it means I wake up to a bat in my cabin or that I have to pull a tick off of one of them.  I adore the dirty little feet that walk through my house every day and I laugh at how accomplished they feel with every "battle wound" they get from rough housing.  I don't mind that they climb trees.  I feel pride when they ask Dad if they can go stack wood for the winter.


I love being a Mom.


But some days are hard.  The days when all three of them are crying at the same time.  One because I insist he does his grammar lesson, another because he's been "trying" to do his math for over an hour and I won't let him skip the rest of the page.  The third because I'm not super women and wasn't able to make his bottle fast enough.  The days where you go to pay your oil bill over the phone and realize as the kind lady says hello you have no idea where your debit card is.  Or when it's a billion degrees out and the AC is broken in your car but you go out anyway just to be stood up.  Or the days when you get pooped on and spit up on while trying to teach.  Or the days when the easiest way to pee "in peace" is to strap the baby to you and go together.  Or the days when a missing library book sends you to tears.  Every single one of these things happened to me today.


Honestly as the day ends I don't have any fixes or perfect endings or moral to the story.  Some days are just hard.  Some hard days are needed.  I know that and I love them for what they are.  In a day or two I'll be telling my funny little story about that time all four of us had a bad day on the same day and how we survived it.  This is  motherhood.  Motherhood is my pride and joy.  I'll take the good with the bad if it means I get to be a Momma to these three boys.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Learning to be Momma to this one

I had been officially licensed for one month when I walked into the hospital room with an empty car seat.  I had no idea what I would find.  I had talked with his placement worker the night before over a fuzzy connection as I stood in the middle of the woods at Cub Scout camp.  We talked for maybe ten minutes.  She answered any question she could, but the truth is she didn't know too much.  Even so I said I'd pick him up the next morning, just after a pit stop at home for a shower.



I stopped just in front of his room.  The door was open just a crack with the lights off on the other side.  I looked up and down the hallway expecting somebody to greet me, but there was nobody around.  Taking a deep breath I slowly pushed open his door and walked through.  He was to my right swaddled and sleeping.  He was the tiniest baby I had ever met.  To my left was his health board saying he needed to be left in his crib to sleep leaving me to sit in the rocking chair quietly beside him.  After a few minutes but what felt like hours a curly haired, smiling nurse introduced herself and told me I could pick him up.  It was six hours of learning how to care for him before she sent us home.

The blanket he came home from the hospital with.

Three weeks later I found myself in the same hospital with two big boys and very sick baby boy.  He had been throwing up for the last 24 hours.  The weight he had lost proved my instincts were right, nothing was staying down.  After an X-ray and a ultrasound it was agreed that the hospital would be our home for the next few days.  Strong man picked up the big ones and I made up my bed on a cot.  The waiting, worrying, and fighting of a Momma began.

Trying to read a book while I waited to meet with the doctors.

The waiting...
... Test still being done at 11 pm Friday night.
... Pacing our room while I waited for them to come back from putting his IV in.
... For morning to come while I held him each time he vomited so I could talk with the doctors.

More tests

The worrying...
... As his throwing up became so scheduled and regular I could catch it saving him a change of clothes.
... As the surgeon never came to see us simply looking over his charts, making choices I disagreed with.
... Sitting in the waiting room while he was finally in surgery.

Going to surgery

The fighting...
... With doctors to move his surgery up a few days.


My boys were birthed to me whatever comes our way is all part of parenthood.  This boy is different.  This time I went to classes and made my house ready for inspections.  For this boy I got a phone call asking if I was willing to take him as my own for a few months.  I chose him and everything that comes with him.  It may only be for a time that I get to be his Momma because he could go home with a single phone call, but after this weekend I have no doubt that there is no end to the depths of love I have for this guy.

We love, because He first loved us.
~ John, friend of Jesus

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love unconditional

Dear Baby K,

Man of the woods birthed me into motherhood every day for the last nine years.  Laughter has taught me to live life with an open hand.  You are teaching me to love like I've never known love before.

Seven days ago at about this time I was laying eyes on you for the first time.  You lay asleep even if it wasn't peaceful you slept just the same.  I sat in the dark room learning as much as I could about you, realizing that no matter how many people I talked to I still wouldn't know you like I did my older two, but I was determined to do my best.  You came home and quietly slept while I checked on you often.  It didn't take long for me to learn that if you fell asleep while drinking your bottle you needed to burp.  Or that you would always choose cuddles over eating so I sometimes needed to hold you in my lap facing me if I wanted you to eat.  I quickly learned that you sleep through most everything as long as you feel snug in a swaddle.  I know you prefer a bassinet to a crib.  You don't seem to need to rock like my other boys did.  You are you're own person.  You and I we're getting to know each other.  Last night when I came home from work you were happy to see me.  You have taken my heart.

I don't have words to articulate the love I feel towards you.  I know that someday in the months to come you and I will part ways.  On that day my soul will ache and my tears will flow for you.  For now I wake with you every few hours and tell you it's all going to be alright when you cry because of a gas bubble.  I change every dirty diaper with a happy heart because it's what you need, it's what a Momma does and it's what love is.  This love you are teaching me is an example of God's love for man kind.  The way he created a perfect world, loving us enough to give us free will, the ability to reject Him.  It's a beautiful thing, a precious gift actually.  He knew we would walk away and still He loved us.  You won't be rejecting me, but you will be leaving me.  Yet I am compelled to love you with all of myself knowing that my heart will soon break.

I'm thankful for the way you are reshaping me into a better person.  My hope for you is that no matter what you will always know you are loved.  Thank you for teaching me to love with my whole self sweet boy.