Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh, how I wish life would fit into a neat little box (possibly covered with brown paper packaging and tied up with string).  Where toys would get picked up without a fight and bedtime was a breeze. Where I'd be able to cook dinner every night while the children played nicely together. Where our house was always clean and flowers were on the table and the laundry was always neatly folded and put away.

Oh, don't we all.

That's the picture of life that I imagined growing up. I thought that's what life would look like when I grew up and had a husband and children of my own.

I'm not sure why I thought that. My family wasn't perfect, and I didn't know of any perfect families, but for some reason, I thought that my life would be picture perfect.

It turns out that nothing fits neatly in a box the way we want it to. Usually things don't turn out the way we expect them too, either.

Our foster care journey is definitely not something that I can say has fit into a neat little box.

I've kind of been beating myself up about how I feel like a crappy foster parent because I don't love these babies as much as I love my own. It's like surely there are no other foster parents who aren't just head over heels for their foster kids.

I was fortunate enough to meet a woman at our church today who also has two foster babies (eight months old and eighteen months old). She's been reading my blog and feels the same way about her babies as I do about mine. But during our conversation, she mentioned that the other moms in her foster group love their foster babies like they love their own.

Then I started to think that there must be something wrong with the two of us. That maybe we are awful people. I started to think that maybe I'm being selfish.

Then I started thinking that maybe I’m not good enough at being a foster parent to really do this and to be fair to these babies.

Needless to say, the inner battle in my head started.

This afternoon my sister and soon to be brother-in-law came over for a couple hours so I could go grocery shopping. I knew I was in need of some alone time....some time to think and process without little hands reaching up for me.

A few months ago when we started the process of becoming foster parents, I had downloaded a few fostering podcasts. As I walked into Target with a heavy heart and a long list of groceries to fetch, I decided that today might be a good day to listen to what others had to say about fostering. 

This podcast (for those of you who might be interested) was called: Foster Parenting Podcast Episode 100: Doubts, Questions, and Hurdles. 

There was a lot of great information about fostering in general, but there was a very short portion that almost had me headed for the Kleenex aisle. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

The host (a foster parent herself) talked about how so many foster parents "hold their hearts back" from their foster children because of the fear of getting hurt. And then she read this poem:

"To Risk"

by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

And right in the middle of Target with a basket overflowing with groceries, it hit me like a ton of bricks.....they are not going to hold their hearts from me, why on earth would I hold my heart from them? Maybe it's time to "adjust the sail."

I know I'm doing it. I have no doubt about it. There is a wall that I've placed between us. I don't want them to pass the picket white fence of our so called "put together life" and make it messy. I don't want them to shake me. I don't want the mess. I want the picture perfect life I thought I was going to have complete with brown paper packages. 

But that's not real. Never has been. Never will be. 

There will always be crumbs on the floor, and smashed up goldfish in the car. There will always be noses to wipe and tears to dry. There will always be hands to hold and fears to crush. 

What I didn't realize until today was that it's not their fears I need to crush.....not the babies (they love us...they light up when we enter the room).....and not my kids (they love these babies), but my fears. My fears of pain and loss and regret. 

Many people have compared letting a foster child go (either back into the biological family's life or into an adoptive situation) to dealing with a death. Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind would walk into the agony of that kind of loss? 

The better question is, who is such a fool that they wouldn't be willing to risk it all to love like that? Because what else is there? There is nothing more important than the love that I can give them while they're here. Why not swing for the fence? Go big or go home? They deserve it. I know I have it in me. I just have to be willing to break the barriers I've placed around my heart down for two tiny little white haired babies who need the love that only a momma can give. 

I may not be their momma and I probably never will be, but I'm thinking I'm going to love them like I am until they have their momma back. 191 of a year of writing.....

1 comment:

  1. As I read your blog daily, I see a lot of parallels in our lives. We have a child that lives with us, though he's not with the "System". He moved in when he was 9. It has been very difficult, especially now that we are in the teenage years. We don't have any ties to this child legally, so our situation is touchy. His parents have every right to pick him up from school one day and take off with him. He could just walk away some day, as that is his choice as well.

    I will be the first to say that you will probably never love them the way that you love your own children, because you have the biological chemistry with your children. It's human nature to doubt those feelings, but keep in mind that you are newly into this process. As the days go by, you will fall more in love, as will they. Even with a guarded heart, they are probably getting showered with more love and attention than they did in their previous situation.


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