I wiped my own tears at Chick Fil A tonight. Not because the chicken sandwich was so good, but because I have done what many believe foster parents are never supposed to do...get attached.
I also ugly cried in the parking lot because my 3 year old was running towards to the road mid tantrum because he wanted to stay and play. The only way to get him to come back towards the car was to tell him that I was leaving him....it was an ugly/scary scene.
Two state workers had just left my home to inspect it, question me, interview the kids, slap my hand for all the paperwork and training that I am behind on and remind me that I am not the real parent.
Of course, the phrase "You are not the real parent" was never explicitly said. The sentiment was laced in the questioning about why the kids are calling me momma. It was implied as we talked about how the biological family is working the plan to get their kids back. It was obvious when I was reprimanded about not filling out the medicine log properly and asked about how I was letting the 1 yr old use her state mandated allowance of $1 a day.
I am just filling a gap right now and my head knows that but my heart refuses to receive the memo. There are moments when my heart aches just imagining the day when these babies who call me momma will say goodbye. That is the day that their family is waiting for, it's the day that DCS is working towards and it's the day that studies show is best for the child long term. It's the day that I am supposed to be praying for...
The Holy Spirit has been gently nudging me to remember that now is not the time to grieve and sit in spaces of sorrow for the instant family that could be instantly gone. I know that one day I will look back on this assignment from God and I will wish that I had of done a few things differently. I'd love to share those things with you as a way to challenge myself before it is too late.
I'll wish that I had...
1. Never refused a hug or kiss, even if my toddler was only asking for one so that he didn't have to go to bed.
2. Always picked up my 1 and 3 yr old when they asked no matter how inconvenient it was.
3. More dance parties with my 5 yr old.
4. Prayed everyday for their parents.
5. Never yelled in frustration.
6. Took at least one vacation with them.
7. Spoke truth and encouragement over them at the start of each day.
8. Shown them the talented, passionate and ambitious me not the " tired, stressed, never showers, first time single mama" version of me.
9. Never distanced myself from them emotionally to guard my own heart but recklessly gave my heart to them and bore the pain of that with grace and honor.
This is foster care.
Photo by Edward Eyer
This morning as I was getting ready for work I KNEW God was telling me that I would have a child in my home tonight. I felt him saying "Make the guest bed...get those dishes out the sink...don't forget to sweep, etc". I only halfway listened to him and only did a few of those things because honestly I was just ready to get to work and frankly I was starting to feel like I would never get any placement calls.
I knew I should have listened when I missed two calls in the middle of a staff retreat today. My heart beat a little faster when I saw the unfamiliar number go across my caller ID. I abruptly left the room where all the staff were meeting and ran to the nearest bathroom. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I chose to go into the bathroom to take this call, the hallway would have sufficed!
Anyways, I am standing in the bathroom hearing a placement worker tell me about a little girl. She told me about her demographics, trauma experiences and behaviors but the only thing I heard was "She needs a place to stay tonight". I said yes.
Fast forward about an hour later, I am rushing home to make the guest bed, get the dishes out the sink, sweep, etc. I should have listened to God the first time, but He was so graceful and I was ready in time for her arrival. I even had time to diffuse lavender oil in her bedroom!
The girl, who I will call Sarah (not her real name) came out of the car.She had been waiting in the DCS office until I could get off of work and she hadn't eaten since 1 pm. It was 6:45 pm.
After going through a packet of paperwork with the caseworker, she left me and said to call if I had any questions. I had this weird feeling of wanting the caseworker to leave so that I could "start" being a foster parent and at the same time wanting her to stay because if she left it would all become very real.
So fast forward to this moment. I am sitting in my bed at 12am writing this blog. I can barely keep my eyes open because I have tried to be fully present with a pre-teen for the past few hours which is a challenge for a single introvert parent. We went out for Chinese food (her choice) and nail supplies. We also watched Mako Mermaids and talked about school! I learned about her love of Greek mythology and clothes.
There is so much to write but as I mentioned I am literally dozing off as I type this. I do want to say thank you for my friends whose prayers and encouragement have led me to this point! God has sent his angels to this earth in the form of friends!
It has been a fun yet daunting task to prepare my home for children. After making half a dozen trips to Walmart and Lowes, I finally have the rooms prepared for children to temporarily live in my home.
Recently, I have been buying new pillows, mattress pads and microfiber sheets. Even as I type, I am thinking that I need to replace my $4 pillows with $9 ones to ensure the best nights sleep for the future kids who will be afraid to lay their head down in a strangers home. Furniture has been moved around several times and it's on my to do list to organize my fridge and buy closet organizers.
My good friend Melissa joked that I was "nesting". I had to look the word up because all I could think of was an eagle spending 3 months just to prepare a sturdy yet soft nest for her young. According to americanpregnancy.com, "Nesting during pregnancy is the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby. The nesting instinct is strongest in the later weeks coming up on delivery." Maybe that means I will have a child in my home sooner rather than later :)
One verse that came to me today was John 14:2-3, "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
The idea that Jesus is preparing a place for me in eternity is humbling. He is making it perfect and when the time is right, He will come and take me to that special place, His presence! I imagine that He is doing much more than buying $9 pillows and microfiber sheets, but in a small way I'd like to think that I can relate to His love for children who may not even love him yet.