Be encouraged Fatty. Bah.

I was just tagged in another one of those, supposed to be inspirational and kind posts written by a skinny person, giving me permission to be okay with being fat.

It’s not too different from the post written by the person working out in the gym that says, I see you and all your fatness working out, and you’re so awesome. Keep it up.

Which is quite similar to the posts telling me not to let my weight get me down, and that I’ve got such a pretty face that my size doesn’t really matter. (I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told this one).

Sigh. I hate those posts. I hate those comments. And this is why.

They’re stupid and they shouldn’t need to even be written.

People’s sizes and/or appearance shouldn’t be the fodder for your next “make yourself feel better” post.

Sure, I suppose the thought behind them is to be one of encouragement and acceptance, but that’s not what they’re saying at all. They’re saying … I see you as a fat person, first and foremost. The FIRST thing you saw when you looked at your subject matter was that they were Fat. And that ONE FACTOR alone inspired you to write a whole commentary about them. That is what makes me mad and sad and annoyed. Fat isn’t all that I am.

Yes, you spotted me in a gym, but I’m pretty sure there are lots of other people there too. Do you make comments about the super skinny girl who can do nothing but ride bikes because she doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass. Do you feel inspired to write about the guy that is “normal” sized but just came to the gym for the first time in his life? Probably not because frankly, their “stories” aren’t as obvious and easy to pick out.

Why can’t you just look around the room and think, Wow, there’s a lot of people here today working on getting healthy and then go about your own workout without waxing poetic?

I don’t go to the hairdresser and comment about the lady with the horribly whacked out hair with more grey roots than blonde flowing locks. I’m not all “I see you with the sad and desperate hair coming to the salon with it all hidden in a ball cap. It’s okay, I understand. I’m happy that you’re stepping up to fix that mess”.

I don’t go for a pedicure and then come home and write a post about the lady with the horrible cracked heels, and hairy toes. “I see you and your slovenly feet, all tired and dirty and forlorn. I know how embarrassed you must’ve been to leave your house this morning to come here. But thank-you for being brave enough to come”.

Yes, those things are stupid, but there’s no difference.

Look at me as a person, not as a shape or a colour, but as a person. If, by some miracle I ever get up and go to the gym, don’t look at me as the fat chick. Look at me as one of your peers that is taking the same steps as you.

Period.

 crime

The Lying Jones’s

Perfect Kids. Perfect House. Perfect Jobs. Perfect Life.

These are the things that we all talk about and think about. They’re the things that we foolishly believe are actually attainable. Every day, we struggle along trying to get ourselves closer to that pretty little picture in our head. But newsflash people, it doesn’t exist or it’s too expensive or lonely or boring or on the other side of the world.

Life is just way too short to worry so much about people who don’t even remotely affect your life. The people who truly matter and want to be in my life, love me exactly as I am. Why isn’t that good enough? Perfect is a whole lotta work, and frankly I’m just altogether too tired, too busy and too old to even care anymore.

No more keeping up with the Jones’s and no more pretending like everything is perfect. It’s time to open the blinds, take off the Spanx and let it all hang out. I’m officially drawing a line in the sand and being absolutely, totally okay with me, my life and all that I have.

SO to encourage you to do the same,  I give you this. My list of Imperfections. Probably one of the most honest & “I should probably be more embarrassed” about this than I am lists that I’ve ever written.

1.  My TV is on for probably 14 hours a day. I’m not always actually watching it, but I am listening. I don’t handle quiet well at all, so TV has become my background noise that is someway, somehow keeping me sane. Or wired. I can’t decide.

2. My kitchen is never clean. Ever. Like seriously, NEVER. And for the love of all things holy, do not open my cupboards cause well, the kitchen is glorious compared to the state they’re in. In fact, I haven’t washed my floors in probably 5 years. Thankfully, I have a housekeeper that comes in weekly because if she didn’t, my bathtub and floors would never get washed.

3. I don’t exercise. At all. In fact, the only time that I actually walk somewhere is if I’m going shopping. And in that case, I can walk miles and miles and miles. This may also be contributing to my fatness.

4. My bedroom is a disaster, a full-on, I should probably be grounded kinda mess. My kids rooms get cleaned all the time, because I threaten them with punishments if they aren’t clean. I’ve got no one threatening to take away my phone so my room has become a pile of small piles spread around the entire space. Well, that’s not exactly true – my husbands section is clean, but I’m going to take over his side at some point, and well … he may move into the living room. But he won’t be any better off there.

5. I drive a Lincoln Navigator. It gets washed 2 times a year, assuming Kevin takes it into the car wash. The bolts on the running boards rusted off so they were held on by bungee cords for almost a year, before I just finally had them removed altogether. I backed out of the garage and ripped my fancy power folding and heated mirror off. I repaired it with black electrical tape and with bi-monthly “repairs”, it survived a full year until my Dad fixed it a few months ago. The interior is also really sticky, and I’m not really sure how or why. I think I’m supposed to care more about the state of my fairly expensive vehicle, but I don’t. Not at all, and this may actually be the thing that kills my husband.

6. I own lots of Coach items. I bought them all on Ebay or at Ross in the States. I REFUSE to pay full retail for anything, not because I can’t afford it but because I can buy MORE things if they cost less. I need All. The. Things.

7. I don’t shower enough. I’m blaming that one on Motherhood and the fact that by the time my kids are all settled enough for me to get there, I’ve found 89 other things to do. Dry Shampoo is the bomb.

8. I owe money on my credit cards. I like shopping and buying stupid things. Enough said.

9. I have a Target problem. Not a little one either … it’s like an addiction that calls my name. It’s magical powers and red tagged – end of the aisles displays are too much for me to resist. I probably should get counselling or have my red card taken away.

10. I have no idea how to: start the lawnmower, change the oil, change a tire, make a fire, etc. AND I have no desire to learn. I have a Father and a Husband and sons and my best friends husband Drew so I really don’t need to know. I also have no issues with pulling the “I’m a girl” card to get what I want.

Reality is, I’m not perfect. At all. But I’m happy. Ridiculously happy, madly in love, blessed beyond measure, totally satisfied, content and full of joy. I am incredibly imperfect & all kinds of happy.

And frankly, I’d rather be happy than one of the Jones’s. They’re Liars anyways.

Perfect

Words.

Last February, I wrote a blog post. I was angry and annoyed by the words of a small group of people who meant absolutely nothing to me. In theory, they should have had zero impact on my life, but they did.

And I think that’s what made me the most upset. Complete strangers had burned me to my core and I was SO not okay with that. I had let them take my power, but writing that letter helped me get it back.

I love that I was able to write it, and for the impact that it made in the lives of many people around me. Turns out my story wasn’t mine alone, but was the same one being lived by more people than I could even imagine. By saying those words aloud, it gave many people the opportunity to stand up and say, “you are right, they are wrong, and we are SO okay”. What a gift.

Now on the flip side. What would’ve happened if I would’ve stood up and said, “those strangers exposed me, and now the world can see my flaws and weaknesses”. What if I would’ve accepted their crap as my reality? What if I would’ve told you all that I am nothing “but a fat pig, that was worthless and that no one would ever love me”.

Would your reaction have been the same or would it have changed the way you looked at me? Instead of being the powerful girl who stood up for herself, I would have been the girl who was pitied or felt sorry for. It would not have been shared 200+ times, it would have been a post soon forgotten and let go.

Funny thing is, It’s the exact same story but it was told from a different viewpoint, with a positive spin.

I chose to see their words in the exact opposite way than they had wanted them to be heard. I chose to take back the power that they had ripped from me. I chose to say, screw you, you are wrong.

I also chose to tell you the story after I had worked through it and corrected it in my head. I chose words in hopes that they would affect change, and they did. Those words were not their story, they were mine.

I said all of that to say this.

Words have power people, do not forget that and do not take it lightly. Our mouths have the ability to uplift or destroy, to burden or set free, to harm or heal, to motivate or demean. We use them to diagnose or more often than not, mis-diagnose. We use them in judgement or as a means to push others down to make ourselves feel better. We change them as often as we change our minds, and twist them or rearrange around them to suit our own purposes or current agenda.

We’ve turned words into weapons and we are killing each other with them.

So please choose your words wisely. They cannot be taken back and will not always be forgotten or forgiven. They can quite easily turn a person into a shell of what they are truly meant to be, just as quickly as they can set someone completely free.

Disagreements and differences in opinion are not reason enough to “attack and destroy”. Open your eyes, open your ears, listen and learn. And sometimes,  just shut your mouth.

Your mind may never be changed or your opinion swayed, and frankly, that’s okay. Different is awesome, and what makes our world just that much more interesting. Why would we let our words destroy that which is so unique and amazing?

You do not always need to be right. You do not always need to win. You do not always know best.

Speak up, speak out, but don’t speak over. We all deserve better than that.

 

HawthorneQuote_final

Me, Katy and Drifting

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, Drifting through the wind, Wanting to start again?

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin, Like a house of cards, One blow from caving in?”

Have you ever heard a song, and felt like it was about you? Well, me and Katy … we’re feeling it. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt like a plastic bag, but I have felt drifting. I have felt like there needs to be an end, and like I need a new beginning. I have felt like I’m not good enough, that I haven’t done enough, that I could’ve done a whole lot better, and that I’m a failure.

I quite often feel like I should be more than what I am now. I should’ve gone to school and became a doctor or a lawyer or something “important”. I should work harder on my businesses and be more passionate about becoming uber-successful. I should try a whole lot harder at losing weight and stop getting caught up in excuses and nonsense. I should want to try new things and discover the world.

Instead … I’m living a life that focuses on everything and everyone that surrounds me. It’s not my story, it’s theirs and it carries a massive burden. Is this “non-me” good enough to make them the best that they can be. My days begin and end with being a Mom.

I shouldn’t be content with being a housewife and a Mom. I should stop drifting along, and start focusing on something more.

But what is that? What should I be? Who should I be? Am I doing the wrong things altogether? Why do I feel like I’m just filling a role and shaping someone else’s story? I need to find me without losing them, but how in the world do I do that? Who will I become when the little’s leave, and I’m just here with me, myself and I?

Where does Mom end and April begin?

When I sit back now and look at all of the things that I think are super awesome about me, I realize that all of those things, are because of them. I don’t remember the person that I was before I had children. I remember times, and places, but I don’t remember “me”. I lived a very full and happy life, and experienced many things. I’ve been well off and really broke. I’ve been really sick and really healthy. And all of these things helped turn me into me, but NOW the things that I’m most proud of are the traits that formed because of them.

They are MY Story, and what a beautiful story it is.

I am strong.

I am resilient.

I am determined.

I am hilarious.

I am a Mom.

So maybe, just maybe I’m not actually drifting, maybe I’m just “holding” in the exact spot that I’m supposed to be. They don’t need to end, I just need to honour and accept all that they’ve helped me become. I, or should I say “we” need to be okay with the life that we’ve been blessed with ….our days may not be filled with paycheques or new discoveries. But what we do is nothing less important than that, and frankly, that IS. GOOD. ENOUGH.

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through

You’re right Katy …. I’ve already got all I need inside of me, and it’s all kinds of awesome. Watch out world, this girl is about to shine. My should’ve and could’ves have officially been blown up in one massive blast of fireworks. Now, who’s joining me in this lightshow?

Boom Mama’s. Boom.

 

“Firework” is from Katy Perry’s album Teenage Dream. It was written by Wilhelm, Sandy / Eriksen, Mikkel / Hermansen, Tor / Perry, Katy / Dean, Ester.

Floating, not sinking.

Today, I am broken and in the middle of a story that I will never share. It is private and runs deep but it consumes me and all that I am and all that I am about.

I am stuck in a place that I cannot fix and I cannot change. I have tried and tried and this time is coming to end. It’s a horrible feeling that makes me want to throw up, but somewhere in the back of that horrific feeling, I feel something that feels a little bit like relief. Relief mixed with sadness, or something like that. I don’t know.

I feel like a tightness that has been consuming me, is starting to loosen it’s grip. I feel like this isn’t the most worst thing ever, but is somewhere in the middle. It’s SO not good, but maybe, just maybe it isn’t so bad. Every moment, I “feel” a little bit less, and I think that’s a good thing. But then I know it isn’t.

I hate not winning especially when it means that I’m losing …. is this losing? Or is this winning? Bah.

Why is life so incredibly tough sometimes? And unfair. And difficult. And crappy.

Have you ever been in this same place? A place where no answer is right, and no matter what happens, there’s going to be a hole. When you close your eyes, you’d like to just be able to sleep for a little bit, and then wake up and have it all done and over with. A place where your heart has way more power than your brain, and your heart is wrong. When you question every word, and every decision you’ve ever spoken or made in your current situation. When you want to sit down and cry, not because you’re sad or mad or really anything, but just because. In the middle of a story where the ending is wrong, or a chapter seems to have been forgotten. This is a horrific place to be, and I really wish I knew why it was happening. I hate not knowing.

BUT thankfully, there are some things that I do know.

I know that every day and every moment serves a purpose.

I know that this story isn’t over, that the ending may be different, but the story will continue.

I know that I have done all that I could, and have to let myself trust that.

I know that tomorrow or the next week, I will be blessed with new challenges and situations and that today will make be better equipped to deal with them.

I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this very moment.

I know that I’m going to be okay, and that my journey isn’t over.

If you’re stuck in a similar boat as me, hang in there. Not all things can be predicted or controlled, and sometimes, we just have to float.

So grab a paddle and a life jacket and join me. Maybe this little canoe will take us somewhere fancy … like a beach or a mall or somewhere that has naps.

Wherever it is … there’s going to be waves. Hang on friends, hang on.

 

I See You.

To the Mom standing at the back of the grocery store trying desperately not to cry while her toddler screams uncontrollably, I see you.

To the Mom that has just paid a babysitter to watch your kids so you can go and sit in your car up the street and read a book, I see you.

To the Mom that has just dropped her kids off at Ikea Smaland to not go shopping but to just wait at the restaurant in peace until your pager lets you know your break is over, I see you.

To the Mom that has left the television on for the past 4 hours straight just so you can lay on your couch uninterrupted, I see you.

To the Mom that is trying desperately to keep your eyes open while your kids play at the McDonalds playplace, I see you.

To the Mom that is hiding in her ensuite bathroom while her children sit on the other side of the door crying for Mommy, I see you.

Truth be told, I’ve been you.

I’ve been the Mom that is so tired that I can no longer think straight. The Mom that is looking for places to hide from all the noise and chatter that just doesn’t ever seem to stop. I’ve been the Mom that gives up on everything that I thought was important, just so I could get through the day.

I’ve been this Mom and I’m still a friggin’ good Mom. I need to remember that. You need to remember that.

This job that we’ve been blessed with is not an easy one. It truly is a gift that we have been given and sometimes it’s a craptastic gift that you’d love to return, but you don’t. Instead, you wrap it up at the end of the day and reopen it tomorrow. Tomorrow has been my saving grace on more than one occasion, and I for one am thankful that the gift of starting over is always available.

Every day I look into the eyes of my children and I see me. I see the best of me and sometimes the worst of me, and that can be a little bit scary. But at the same time, when I look into their eyes, I see how deeply they love me. How they see nothing but their Mom. They love me in spite of me. They love me regardless of how badly I screw up or how many times I’ve failed them. They are my gift.

I wish I could always remember these words when I’m in the middle of one of my really bad days, because more often than not, I don’t. But in my heart, I know them to be true. I may have moments filled with nothing but weakness but those are actually the moments that are making me better. It is during these days that I find out that I’m actually a stronger than I ever dreamed possible. It’s in these moments that I realize that being a Mom is exactly what I’m supposed to be.

So next time you find yourself desperately trying to escape a moment filled with craziness and noise, remember that you’re not a bad Mom. You’re not broken, you’re not a screw up, you’re not a failure and most importantly, you are not alone.

Welcome to the Imperfect Mom club. It’s where all the Good Mom’s hang out.

Staying Afloat – Encouragement for Foster Parents

Lots of people have asked me what I spoke about at the Adoption Society’s Caregivers Conference, so I thought I’d share some of it here. If you’re a Foster Parent, you can most definitely relate to what I had to say and if you’re not, I hope you enjoy it just the same.

I truly am blessed and honoured to be a Mom to Many and am so thankful for this journey that our family is taking. Everyday we learn a little bit more, and everyday we get a little bit better at what we do. Hopefully, some of my words below will be a help or an encouragement to you as well.

 

By the time I left home at the age of 21, I had been blessed with more brothers and sisters than I can even remember. I learned many things about myself, and what I did and didn’t want for my future and most importantly,  I swore that I was never going to have children. Ever. I was getting married, moving out, and enjoying the peace and quiet that would soon become my daily life. I wasn’t going to have to share anything, or have my stuff wrecked by short people. I was going to be alone with my new husband, and it was going to be glorious.

Well, it didn’t take long for me to miss all the chaos, and the peace and quiet of my new life was killing me. I kept a TV and radio on at all times, and I’m more than certain that I actually started talking to myself. I was bored out of my mind and just felt completely lost and alone.  I literally had no idea how to be by myself. Or quiet for that matter. 3 years later, we had a baby and 3 years after that, our first foster child moved in. My life had literally taken a 360 degree turn and I had become my Mother.

That was 15 years ago, and since then, my little family has fostered 30 different children. We currently have 3 placements and 2 kids of our own and at this moment, our home is in a really good place. We’ve found a great rhythm and the kids are a good fit for us, but it’s not always been that way. We’ve gone through a lot of really tough times with a lot of children that had been severely let down by the adults in their world. Some we were able to reach and some, we just couldn’t. But through it all, our family unit has remained strong and our mental health has endured. And that is what I want to talk to you guys about.

How I stay afloat in a sea of whining and children. These are the things that I practice at home that help me stay sane and at least one step ahead of the crazy.

Number One. Get yourself a good support system. And I’m not talking about people that will help you babysit or come over and give you a break. I’m talking about people that you can whine and complain to. People that will just smile and nod and let you cry. People that won’t be judgemental but will be a listening ear. If you can find someone in the field, or another foster parent, that’s even better as those conversations are safer and they truly get it.  In my case, I’m very vocal. I say exactly what’s on my mind and don’t hold it in. I complain about the dumb system and all the rules. I whine about travel letters and asking for permission for everything. I complain about bio-parents that say things they shouldn’t. I whine about FASD, and why in the world people would ever think it’s okay to drink while pregnant. I literally hold nothing in and I know that’s a huge part of why I’m able to stay pretty calm and level all the time. If I’m stressed, I talk about it. I actually yap so much that my support worker and social workers have told me to stop emailing them my rants because they have to print them off and save them. They’re always saying, April, you can’t say that to me, or I’m  no longer listening to you, etc.  Thankfully they know I’m just rambling, and that’s how I deal and cope and that I’m not actually losing my nut. But most importantly they respect that I’m saying it to them and not strangers, cause that’s bad. Don’t do that. Ever.  I totally recognize that so much of what I complain and whine about can’t be changed as its rules and procedures, but by acknowledging it, I’ve taken away it’s sting of stupid and I feel so much better. If you don’t have that kind of support, email me, I’ll listen and we can complain about trampoline and ATV usage together.

Number Two. Be creative. Odds are really good that the majority of the children that are placed in your home, either via fostering or foster to adopt, will have some real issues.  They will have had some kind of unhealthy influence in their lives and you’re going to have to figure out a way to help them through it. They are not quote-unquote normal kids, so don’t expect to parent them as such. Accept right now that you’re going to have to do things differently, so then it won’t be so surprising later on. You will find yourself coming up with the weirdest solutions to the smallest of problems and will, more than likely, shake your head at yourself for even trying them. BUT odds are good, they’ll work. If you need to let the kids eat on the floor so they stop throwing food off the table, do it. They’ll eventually join you at the table, but in the meantime, they’re eating. If you need to let them keep boxes of crackers under their pillows, so they stop stealing from your pantry, give them the crackers. If you have to hang a poster up on their wall showing them how to get dressed, make a poster. If you have to make up stupid little songs that teach how to brush your teeth, or tie your shoes, or how to set the table, so be it. Remember that the majority of these kids have been left to their own devices more often than not, and even the most basic and simple tasks have probably not even been taught. These little goofy systems that you put in place will stick in their brains, so be creative and use them. Odds are also really good that normal grounding or loss of privilege won’t work with many of your kids either, so alternative consequences are a great place for your creativity to shine.

Number Three. Live life in Black & White. At our house, we have no grey area. Our patterns, expectations, rules and rewards never change. Initially, it’s tough to get the kids used to, but in the long run, everything runs so much smoother. Kids thrive when there is order as they know exactly what is expected of them at all times. There’s no guessing or wondering about what comes next or what happens if I do or don’t do this. As adults, we hate been thrown into situations where we don’t know what to do, so why do we think kids are okay with it?? It’s not as harsh as it may sound, as it’s really just basic rules put into action, but it works really well. For example, bed time routine is the exact same every day.  Everything happens in the exact same order, and you don’t move on to the next step until the previous one is complete. If you do this, you get this. Period. Of course, there’s always a little bit of wiggle room within those boundaries, like staying up later on weekends, but the boundaries themselves never change. If you have a rule of not swearing in your house, it is never okay, not even when you’re really mad or had a really bad day. Acknowledge it, correct it and move on, but don’t let it slide. Different kids with different needs will need different ways of getting things accomplished, but the end result can still be the same. Be very clear about your expectations, and makes things as simple as possible and I guarantee you, your kids will surprise with all they can accomplish.

I had a child that had to be told every single day where garbage went. Every day he would ask me where garbage goes and every single day, I had to tell him. For 3 years. He would get so lost in daily tasks and school work, that he had a hard time functioning and just keeping it together. But once he was home from class, he knew exactly what was expected of him and what he needed to do. It was one of the few places he would have any success. Yes, it was just knowing how to get bathed, ready for bed and into bed, but it was huge for him as he could do something on his own. Never discount how important those little seemingly meaningless accomplishments are, as those are the moments that will bring about the most change.

Number Four. Know your limits. This one refers to two completely different things, but they’re both super important. You are going to having some crazy, bad days. Crazy bad. You will come so close to the edge of losing your mind that you need to have a plan. Decide right now what you’re going to do when you need to walk away and escape a situation. What does that “break” look like? For me, I go in my bedroom and shut the door and breathe. Or more often than not, I phone my husband and complain. When I call, he knows to just shut-up and let me talk. He doesn’t try to help me or guide me, he just listens. Figure out your exit plan, right now so you don’t have to think about it when you’re about to snap. I promise you, that day is coming so please be ready for it.  Secondly, what is your limit? What behaviours, situations, addictions or whatever are the deal breakers for you and your family? Are you willing to work through them with the children and counsellors or will you not be able to forgive and forget and move forward? Be very honest with yourself and your workers at all times. Do not push yourself farther than you can handle. Ever. You need to know when you’re at the end of yourself, and honour it. It’s okay to sometimes walk away.

We’ve had to do exactly that a few times now and walking away is an incredibly hard thing to do. We’ve always held on to the tiny little glimmers of hope that we’d see, instead of listening to what our hearts and mind already knew. We’ve held on too long a few times, and it’s caused damage within our family unit. It’s not an easy thing having to let someone go that you’ve poured so much of yourselves into. It’s heartbreaking and scary, but you need to remember that your other family members deserve the best of you too. Please make sure that you’re not always just treading water as that gets really tiring, and eventually you will drown.

Number Five. Don’t feel guilty. For the longest time, I felt guilty for not loving my foster children like I loved my own. I kept waiting to feel something deeper & more intense. On the really good days, I most definitely feel a connection but on the really bad days, I quite often feel used and hurt, and it’s really confusing and hard to deal with.  But one day, not too long ago, I let all of those feelings and expectations go. These kids will never match what I have in my heart for the children that I birthed and that’s okay. Yes, I love them and care for them and want the best for them, but it’s different. We need to recognize that, and be okay with it. The relationship that I have with my foster children is very unique and very special. They know I’m not their Mother, and they don’t love me the same way they love her. Instead, I’m their safe place and their constant. I’m their voice of reason and the new hopeful words being spoken in their ears. I’m the one tucking them in at night, and kissing their boo-boos away. I am everything that she wasn’t. That IS LOVE, it may look and feel different, but nonetheless, it is love indeed.

We’ve never had children that don’t still have a connection or visits with at least one of their parents, so I know that our situation is a little bit different. I am always the “other Mom” in their life, and their need to be loyal to her is always stronger than their need to bond with me. But, I do get to be their favourite auntie and get to fill a different role in their lives. Is it perfect, no but it works. I think the trick is to remember that we’re not  a replacement but a helper with a really important job to do.

Number Six. Plan Escape Time. This goes beyond date night with you and your hubby, this is more about honouring your core family unit. I know that fostering and adoption are a little bit different, especially if you get kids from birth. But for those of us that take older kids and/or have kids that are quite a bit older than your placements, this is very important. I was a real kid in a foster home, so I know how it felt to share my space and my family.  My house, my stuff, my family and friends now also belonged to a stranger, and these things aren’t exactly easy to share. My parents did a great job reminding us of our value, and now I make sure that my kids know how important they are to me. Especially since, so much of my free-time and attention are given to my foster children because they need so much more care, assistance and guidance. Some days, it seems like my kids get pushed to the back because they don’t need all the hands on help that the others do and that’s not okay. Always check-in with your kids, discuss their concerns and what they’re feeling. They need help processing all of the things that they’re seeing as well, and will definitely need some reassurance along the way. My children truly are my children, and they have the same hearts as their father and I, so they get it. But it’s still nice to remind them of how much we appreciate them and the sacrifices that they are making. It also makes our choices and decisions to do what we do just that much easier knowing that my kids are okay.

Number Seven. Laugh a lot. For us, this is the one thing that keeps us going. We goof around and playfully tease each other all the time. We sing dumb songs and blast music in the car. When I sneeze, I always say, Phew, I’m allergic to kids, and my kids all laugh. Every single time. When someone gets hurt or teased, we quickly turn it around with funny commentary. We eat breakfast for dinner and have cookies for breakfast. We never laugh at, but we always laugh with and it’s a great way of connecting with kids. We don’t do a lot of bonding over hugs and kisses just because of the situation that we’re in, but we most definitely bond over a good joke or a fun evening of goofing around. Figure out what works best for your family, and then do it really well. For us, its humor and it has truly been our saving grace more times than I can count.

In closing, I want to encourage you and thank-you.

You are going to have some of the worst and best days of your lives all wrapped up in one. You will hear terrible stories and see evidence of unspeakable things and you’ll need to not react. You will have to answer questions that should never even be asked. You are going to be pushed and pulled and challenged like you’ve never been before. This journey we’ve all chosen to take is not an easy one at all.

But one day, you will wake up to a note on your birthday that will remind you of why you chose this journey in the first place. It will be from your 14 year old foster son, and it will say “Thank-you for giving me hope and a family”. You will cry and you will know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

So thank-you. Thank-you for opening your hearts and your lives to children that have been let down or forgotten. Thank-you for choosing a life that will never fully be your own again. Thank-you for seeing what’s inside these children in spite of the behaviours they’re displaying and thank-you for taking a chance at being someone’s happy ending.

Be encouraged and know that you are making a difference.

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