Being a mom · everyday life · Fostering · Parenting

(foster)Mom Fail.

Y’all, I’ve gotta tell you something. I made a big parenting error last week. If you have a child like my Charlie Grace, I want you to learn from my mistake. I’ll preface this experience with a little bit of back-story.

Our Charlie Grace is an anxious soul. Maybe she gets it from the ‘fretful’ genes she inherited from her mama. Or maybe I’ve inadvertently shaped her responses to experiences; kids are, after all, always watching and learning from us. Regardless, I’ve learned over the past few years that she is my child who needs ALL THE WORDS. We discuss what will happen before going into an experience. We discuss what will not happen. We discuss when things will happen, and how they will happen and where. You may think this is overkill, but my girl depends on this type of routine. This is how we get through doctor’s appointments, play dates with new friends, someone other than mom picking her up from school, and holidays with those relatives who are strangers but want to get into your personal space with a hug anyway. Verbal Prep and our family are best friends.

She needs the words. She needs me to describe as much as I can and answer all her questions. And I always do because that equals a successful experience for both of us. Except last week I didn’t.

Last week we had a new little placement. He arrived late at night, but our kiddos just rolled with the new addition and changes in schedule when they saw him the next morning. That’s the norm now. We’ve had several emergency placements recently {children who have to be removed from their situation as soon as possible but a long term foster placement isn’t available immediately, so they come to us because that’s what we’re best at providing right now}. A new foster home was identified for this little guy after a few days so I packed up his things {and cried} and tucked him into his carseat {and cried} and snuggled him one last time {and cried}. I am typically very diligent in ensuring my emotions stay healthy when it comes to fostering, by reminding myself daily why we do this {Love God, Love people}, and who we do this for {any that have need}. It’s not for me, though I do love a good baby fix. It’s not for us to grow our family, though we will if there is a need. It’s for the child and the birth parents and I’m typically on board with the ebbs and flows of that process.  But with this little fella it was different from the first moment. I was desperate for him to stay longer; even just one more day. I really struggled with having to let him move on to another home, even though he was heading to a wonderful family who will love him to pieces until his parents are able care for him again.

I don’t think Chris knew how to handle me this week. He just laughed at my crazy. And no, we typically don’t chat about foster kiddos like they are puppies, but desperate times…

van

Screenshot_20170403-194807 (1)

chris lol

I was so wrapped up in processing my sorrow that I forgot to consider the emotional needs of my children. Our little visitor was a part of their lives too. They form a bond with each child who comes in our home and we always talk with our kiddos about what is happening as much as is reasonable for their age, while maintaining the privacy of the child who is joining us. And when a child is moving on, either to another placement or to biological family, we always talk it out.

But last week I forgot. I didn’t talk to Charlie about where our visitor was going and why. She fell asleep on the way to social services. I remember feeling relieved because I didn’t want to have to answer her ten million questions that border on ‘almost too difficult for mommy to answer’ about science and animals and life and whatever other brainy topic she’s fixated on recently. When she woke up, our visitor was gone and she was heartbroken. “Mom, he was just here in the carseat a minute ago”, she said between sobs.

GUILT. I felt it like a huge weight on my heart. I felt horrible. I’d failed to meet her emotional needs. My kiddo who needs ALL THE WORDS. I gave her NONE. I didn’t respect her need to understand what was happening, and she deserved to know, because fostering affects her every. single. day.

charlie and C.P.

Fostering is good. And she’s compassionate and loving and a nurturer from her wispy brown hair to her crazy little toes because of it.

But fostering is also difficult. It’s heartbreak, and confusion, and forcing flexibility on someone who might not cope with those changes easily.

You may not see my blunder as a big issue, and I understand that because we all parent differently. But I caused my child emotional stress by not giving her the level of communication she needed. It took about 24 hours for her questions and worries about our visitor to dwindle. She needed to know more information. And I freely gave answers and comfort whenever she brought the topic around to him again.

We don’t tell our children everything. In fact, I’d say our children are fairly sheltered. BUT, I won’t let my daughter’s young age keep me from talking to her about real life. About kids who need a safe place, or grownups who have a sickness and they need to get help, or a mistake mommy made and has to apologize for, or something we see that doesn’t fall in line with how God wishes for us to act. I won’t assume that she’s too young. I will continue to keep the words flowing. I don’t want the lines of communication between us to close before we even get to the difficult ‘teen parenting’ years. I want her to know she can ask, and I will answer.

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