My husband blessed me with a mental health day today. I'm exceptionally grateful. The days have been hard lately; they've been long. I'm not much one for comparisons. I'm not much one for "mine is worse/bigger than yours". And it burns me to my core to see women do so; to see them diminish what others are going through. Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Everyone has it hard.
I share the things I deal with in life because when we were merely considering becoming foster parents, I read everything I could get my hands on, including social media. It helped me better understand what I was diving into. I share our journey in hopes it may help someone straddling the decision line. There are great days. There are normal everyday days. And there are tough days. And every day is a day that almost every area in our country is in need of more foster parents.
We've had our share of tough days lately. Actually for the last few months. I keep running into people in the system who are sincerely apologizing to me that this is the experience we are having as our first (for all the reasons I can't explain due to confidentiality). They're afraid we will quit as soon as the door closes behind these kids. I didn't really comprehend what they were meaning. We don't have medically fragile children. We don't have the hard to place kids. I thought we were blessed with your normal run of the mill case. I think I handle our fostering life pretty well. I think I handle our life pretty well. But man, it's draining. It has honestly been the longest year of my life. Time moves very slowly these days.
When foster children are well on the road to home, their visits ramp up. Regularly scheduled visits take place weekly for the majority of foster children. Later, as parents make progress, kids begin going for a visit on, say, a Saturday afternoon. Then they transition into overnights (1 night), then weekends, then a 30 day home trial. This ramp up is supposed to happen quickly as long as everything is going okay. It's best for the children. It's best for EVERYONE involved. But sometimes there are circumstances out of most everyone's control & this process does NOT happen quickly. Kids begin acting out with all the back and forth. Toddlers and babies are so very confused. We've been in this holding pattern for quite some time now. It's taking an (exhaustive) toll on everyone. We all try our best to support one another. Myself & our foster kid's biological mom have a pretty good relationship. We keep one another informed, updated; we talk regularly about the kids and what's going on. All that said, it's great on the surface.
Long story short? This is HARD on toddlers. So hard. So very hard. Which is hard on moms, foster moms, foster dads, therapists, immune systems, naps, eating, baths, riding in a car, and the list goes on.... Every single day is hard. They don't understand. They can't.
Just imagine for one moment... you're handed off to a person you have some maternal connection to, somewhere inside you know this is mom (?) but then who is this other lady!? I like their house too, because dada is there. But this lady keeps ripping me from this lady and that lady keeps ripping me from that lady. I'm so confused! So I'm going to take it out on everyone I see. And scream. And wallow on the floor. And now I caught some germs. And I can't fight them off because I'm not eating. Or sleeping. And I'm so upset all of the time. So now I'm sick. And even more upset. So I'm going to scream some more. And fight everything that is anything.....
And that is their life. Day in and day out. Because they don't understand. But they need the love and the hugs and the support the most. And it's exhausting.