Boy was I wrong. I knew fostering would be hard, really hard. But I got it wrong. I thought bonding with children and then having them go back to their parents or be placed for adoption with a foster to adopt family would be hard and it probably will be. I was not prepared with how hard the day to day living and breathing with kids in trauma was going to be. Here’s my current list of hardest things:
1) Getting kids to bed on time.
2) Getting kids up on time.
3) Getting kids to school dressed and clean with all their stuff on time.
4) Talking on the phone while kids are home.
5) Talking to Tim while the kids are home.
6) Having a glass of wine at the end of the day.
7) Helping kids make better decisions.
8) Letting go of anger and praising good behavior after defiant difficult behavior.
9) Getting my stuff done.
10) Getting the toilet flushed every time it gets used.
And there is more. I miss quiet mornings without screaming and yelling or angry outbursts. I miss floors free from dirty clothes. I miss evenings out with girlfriends to dish the dirt. I miss my agenda and my schedule. I miss going to a church that I want to go to where I get spiritually fed. I miss dinner out in a nice restaurant. Yep, I miss a lot of things.
And I am not bonding with these two kids I currently have. Perhaps it is because they are so defiant and pushing all my buttons. Perhaps because I am constantly comparing them to other kids in my life and lining up their behavior to others. Perhaps because I so miss my life before this.
Last week one of my fellow foster parents posted a picture on FB of a thank you note they received from their foster kids. Yeah, not holding my breath for that one. I realize in the three short weeks we have had these kids in our home, we have raised their expectations so high that they feel entitled to lots. Perhaps they felt entitled before they got here. Don’t know. I do know ungrateful, spiteful and defiant kids are no fun to live with.
But now I feel guilty for “labeling” them. And for focus on the negative instead of the positive. This must be the mom guilt stuff. They aren’t at school feeling sorry. An angry foster mom hopefully isn’t weighing down their interactions with school mates and teachers. They are going about their day hopefully happy. But boy did their bad behavior ruin my morning. How do you stop that?
My Pintrest browsing is now about creative parenting. No more looking at upcycling furniture, cool recipes or great holiday escape plans. Just how to parent kids without causing more harm while they are with us.
This is my life calling. So no, I will not throw in the towel and give up. I just need to be able to find the joy in this somewhere.
After a tearful call with my mom, she said the kids that are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most. True. How do I do that when I am so empty?