Fostering is a whole other ball game. It truly is. You go through the classes, you read all the books, you attend all the support groups and then... it all break downs. It's kind of like going through prenatal classes and then throwing everything out the window on birth day; if you were like me. When you get new kids in your home that have been "parented" by a slew of other families, you end up fighting all those other parents and families through those kids. It's not fun.
You spend a ton of time putting in deposits, knowing that at some point you will have to make some withdrawals on their emotional bank accounts. And when you make those withdrawals, sometimes that sets off a "trigger" and causes a set back. We had a lot of triggers and quite a few set backs; some that we're still working through today. I can honestly say that in these eight months that we've been loving on all four of them, our marriage has been through the wringer.
We've been married just a little over eight years and in these short, but seemingly long eight months, we've had more arguments, more back-to-back sleeping, more times of less grace than we've had in all eight years together. I've spent more days and some nights crying than I can count. It's definitely not for a lack of loving each other. I love that man and I know he loves me.
The day in and day out stresses of long hours at work, therapy appointments; meetings with case workers, home supervisors, GALs, schools, permanency round tables; after school activities, and volunteering start to take their toll. We each have become selfish of our time. **While writing this, I attempted to read it to my husband and every 3 words someone was interrupting.** We both need time for ourselves and with each other, but when our kids are not emotionally their age or they're in a needy, but somewhat self-sufficient stage of life, we're always ON. Answering questions like "What is the point of your face?" and "Can I have my second bowl of cereal?" is what we do on a daily basis...even with our teens. We answer questions they "should" know, but because of the multiple families and multiple moves and changes in schools, they don't know these things. We're trying to play catch-up so that they aren't behind their peers. And yes, it's exhausting, but we know that in the end, every bit that we put into them is worth it.
I have given up a lot of things that I used to do for fun in order to accommodate our family. That's where selfish rears its ugly head in my thoughts. I get into this mindset of "Look what I'm doing for you. Can't you just give me _____________?" The same goes for my husband. He works 48 hours a week and absolutely loves his job, but the second he walks through the door, he is bombarded. We have tried having the kids hold back, but they miss him so much. So what usually happens is that we are confined to our bedroom either listening to music, reading, or doing whatever we need to do to get some downtime. All for our sanity of peace and quiet.
So this year we are committed to having at least one date night a month. For some, that's nothing. For us, it's crucial. We never had a problem doing date nights when we lived in Washington because we were close to grandparents. Now that we're here in Colorado our any-day-date-night is severely limited. However, we have solved that problem with Parents Night Out at the YMCA. It's a great program and we can have up to a 5 hour long date night. We'll take it!
The point of me writing today was just to write and to share just a snippet of what life has been like for us recently. Everyone's journey with fostering/parenting is different. I feel that we are slowly, but surely getting a handle on parenting...haha...for today at least...maybe. I ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we move forward with adoption. We have a couple more months before it's finalized and they will officially be Headleys. While patience is not my best characteristic, it's something that I'm learning more and more every day.
Have a great day!