Tag Archives: family

A little bit of Hope.

The phone call arrives from the jail that I’ve never visited. I can’t go there, because it’s the place that I’ve been fighting to keep kids out of for so long. Somehow it’s become a part of my story, and I hate it. I hate that everything I fought against has now become a comforting and safe place, and seeing that particular number on my call display gives me peace somehow. She is safe. Again. I hate it.

The words are a blur as they’re always filled with bravado and slang and nonsense. There are stories of conquests and bad choices and just plain stupidity. There are tears and apologies and promises of doing better this time. There’s fear, and sadness and the loss of hope. There is nothing that I can say or do anymore, so I just listen. I listen and pray and hope and wait. I hope that her desire for change will someday outweigh her desire to be cool and fit in. I hope that she’ll realize that her “friends” aren’t friends at all and that bad ideas and having each other’s back, does not a family make. I hope that she’ll grab onto that tiny glimmer of light and hope that is buried deep inside of her and not let go.

I hate it. I hate that I can’t fix it, that I can’t go back and redo her start in this world. That I can’t heal her hurts or help her forgive and move forward. That I wasn’t able to change her life.

He looks at me and says, “it sure is nice not having to do my job anymore to get food for everyone”. What job, you’re not old enough to work. “You know, going to people’s doors and asking for money for charity”. What charity? “Well, I just said that so I could get money for food for my brothers and sisters”. Okay. I’m glad you don’t need to do that anymore either.

He looked at me and asked “why don’t you lock me up in the closet when I’m bad”? Because I don’t do that. “But why”. Because that’s not how people should be treated. “But my Mom does that and she loves me”. Your Mom didn’t make a very good choice, but I’m glad she loves you. “So I won’t ever get put in a closet here”. No sir. “Okay, can I have a sandwich”?

They called their Mom on the phone, and begged and begged to see her again. They ask question after question that Mom just can’t answer. They collapsed in my lap sobbing, confused and torn by the feelings and knowledge of being completely safe and warm here, but being pulled by a love that they can’t deny. They can’t be little kids because the burden that they carry is so strong “Is Mommy safe, does she have food, where is she sleeping”.

She has done nothing wrong. She makes good choices and has achieved many great things. She has hope and a very bright future, and because of that, she’s been forgotten. Somehow, the darkness and bad choices that are all around her got more acknowledgment and support, and she’s forgotten. She works harder and harder to get their attention, but still the “bad stuff” seems to have more value.

I hate it. I hate that I have to do what I do. I hate the conversations, I hate the stories, I hate not being able to reply exactly how I want to, I hate that I must protect a relationship with a person that no longer even deserves that relationship anymore. I hate that their normal is so abnormal. I hate that someway, somehow I have to find a crack in their tough little amour’s, and find a way in. That I have to redefine a role in their lives that has already been filled by someone else. That my “right thing to do”, is so completely foreign and distant from what they know that they believe I’m wrong.

I hate that they have to be here in the first place. Not because I have them, but because the world, their parents, drugs, circumstance, alcohol, despair, depression, and abuse has failed them. It is so not fair, and how in the world am I supposed to “fix them”? How do you teach a 12-year-old something that most kids learned when they were 3? How do you make someone really truly feel safe?

So many of our days are spent running like a hamster on a wheel. It’s just a-round and a-round having the same conversations, working on the same skills, teaching the same things over and over. Many days are just about surviving and making it to bed time. I can spend hours open hours questioning my sanity and why I choose this life for me and my family. More often than not, I feel like I’m getting nowhere and that I’m not actually making a difference anymore. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing, or if there’s any point.

And then I get something like this.

thenote

And I’m reminded. I don’t need to be perfect or change them completely. I just need to be their Mom. I just need to give them a little bit of hope and a whole lot of family. I need to remember that.

So now when I get the phone calls, and have the conversations, I need to remind myself that I’m not trying for perfection or that I have to fix all that has been broken. That burden does not belong to me anymore, and I think that I’m finally okay with that.

Our children, mine, the ones that I’ve borrowed and yours as you read this, deserve a safe place, and we owe it to them. My hope now is that when they leave us and move on that their wings will be strong, that they’ll know their worth, that they’ll always know that “home” means safe, and that they will KNOW that they are loved and belong to someone. This isn’t about being a foster parent, this is about being a parent. We all need to stop focusing on the stupid piddly pointless things and focus on what really matters.

Take a moment and look into your children’s eyes and let them see YOU. Let them see your heart, feel your love, and see that you’re on their side, no matter what. They’re not expecting you to be perfect, or even care if you screw up and do the wrong things. They don’t see our mistakes or bad choices, they see YOU.

Don’t ever question how strong that bond is, and never take it for granted. I’ve seen kids that have been abused beyond belief that still love their parents madly and deeply. They’ve forgotten about all the mistakes but they remember the love. So, as a Mom or Dad struggling with guilt and questioning if you’re doing everything wrong, remember this connection and honour it.

I fight every day to make that connection and some days I’m successful and more often than not, I fail miserably. But now instead of focusing on fixing, I’m focusing on strength, joy, safety and a whole lotta’ hope.

You should try that too.

9 Days of Happiness

We are just more than half way through our 2 week getaway. We’ve been cooked by the sun, fed up at restaurants that we’ve never been to before and bought some of the ugliest basketball shoes that I’ve ever seen.

We’ve slept in resorts and our motorhome and the biggest argument has been over snoring. It’s been fun and refreshing, and we’re so thankful that we made the decision to go.

We’ve seen many different landscapes and smile at what is considered a ‘mountain’ in these parts. It’s also been weird to have such high speed limits everywhere, which is nice on one hand but 65 mph in a construction zone just seems so wrong. Almost every small town has a Subway and a Flying J, and we’re starting to miss Tim Hortons. We tried the Dunkin Donuts iced coffee drinks but they are NOT Ice Capps, at all.

Last night, we stayed at a fabulous little town called Lava Hot Springs, ID. We made some new friends at the hot pools and plan to return & visit them next summer. I’d recommend you check it out with your family too. Hot Springs, waterslides, recreation centre and river tubing. The town was quaint and filled with lots of great little shops and activities. Perfect place for a family vacation.

Today we continue on our journey west and will see what the trip brings us.

For now, we enjoy spending time with our little family. Many miles, much junk food and lots of laughs. For he record, We do NOT recommend Candy Corn M&M’s to anyone. Ever.

We are so very, very blessed. All family vacations should be like this. ūüôā

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Happy Trails

If you know anything about our lives over the past few years, you know it’s been tough. We’ve had some tough kids in some tough situations and we’re tired.

Tired of fighting, and fixing and waiting for things to change. Tired of hoping for different outcomes to the same situation that just plays out, over and over and over. Tired of trying.

So, we’ve decided to run away for a little while. We’re taking two weeks off to enjoy our kids and do no thinking. No fighting. Just being a family.

Teachers, employers and coaches aren’t overly thrilled with us but this HAD to happen. Our kids need time to breathe and refocus too. Kevin and I chose this path for our family, and we don’t regret it for a second. But we have to remember that our choices became our kids choices and when we struggle, we ALL struggle.

I know that we’ve made it through the worst of it, and feel like we’ve now found a good groove again. The kids have all gelled and are getting along pretty well. The bigs have become much better friends, the littles are happy to have a home, and the bigs are adjusting to the millions of questions per day that the littles continually ask. Overall, we’re finding our way back to ‘normal’.

Not sure what our normal is exactly, but I feel like we’re getting there. I finally feel like I can breathe again and that’s such an amazing feeling. A fresh start is a wonderful place to begin, so we’re making one now.

As I write, the three are sound asleep as we cruise down the highway. They are beyond thrilled for the adventure that is to come their way. They’ve talked non-stop and are planning their shoe purchases and photo ops. They are already making us crazy with how much further questions and calls for more food. They are happy and laughing, and its good to see. But for now, we let them sleep and we enjoy the peace and quiet of just ‘being’.

We are 5 barreling down a highway, in a motor home heading towards sunshine, outlet malls and naps. Junk food, stupid tourist attractions and Carl’s Jr. are calling our names. An Akita, a dog sitter and some very amazing friends & family are watching over our home and the new pieces of our hearts.

At this moment, I can feel our blessings and I am so very, very thankful. Let the Happy Trails start NOW. I love my life.

M is for Mine

I read a post by the fabulous Redneck Mommy yesterday and it struck a chord with me. I encourage you to go and read it¬†here.¬†In fact, while you’re¬†on her page, read her story. This is¬†a woman and a family that have endured some unthinkable things and¬†still continue to press on.

Tanis¬†said things that I think about all the time. She’s adopted her child, so her story is different from mine. But I too struggle with the other Mom’s in my life.

I’m a foster parent. I have the honor of raising children that¬†have been pushed aside or¬†had to take a backseat to¬†addictions and abuse.¬†They quite often are a¬†product of tragedy or terrible circumstances. They don’t have other family able to care for them anymore or their “issues” are¬†too scary for people to take on. Whatever the reasons are, ¬†I’ve come into their lives because¬†there’s no other options available.¬†I am their 2nd or¬†3rd or 15th chance at a normal life.¬† But, I am not their Mom.

We’ve had dozens of children live with us, and every single one of them still had¬†involvement with their¬†real Mom’s.¬†On one hand I’m happy that they have contact with their bio-parent because that’s important, but it also makes it a lot tougher for me. I’m the one that “goes against” their real Mom … not because of what I do, but because of the place I’ve taken in their life. I¬†am always the other parent, ¬†even though they’re in my care 99% of the time.¬† I am everything they wish their real Mom would’ve been. They want their Mom holding them and loving them, they don’t want me.

I’m the one that parents them, sets rules and gives them expectations, all things that they know nothing about. I’m the voice that tells them things that they’ve never even heard before.¬†“You are only a child, you don’t¬†have to take care of yourself. You may not go for a walk at midnight, you can’t spend the night at your girlfriends house because you’re 11, drinking and smoking do not make you cool, and neither do drugs. Yes, you need to wear socks and underwear and no you can’t just steal something because you like it. I’m sorry that’s how you used to do things, but we’re going to try something new now”.

I’m the one that wakes them from their screaming nightmares. I’m the one driving them to counselling appointments in hopes of repairing some of the damage that’s been caused by others. I’m the one fighting for justice for them. It’s me listening to their stories of abuse, horror and betrayal. You’ll find me sitting at doctors appointments, or waiting in the lobby at the dentist or optometrist. It’s me begging teachers for a second chance or going to court to learn the terms of probation. But still, I’m not their Mom.

Some of my days are so incredibly difficult and trying that I can’t even put them into words. My heart breaks for them and what they’ve been through, but somehow I still have to reach them. I spend hours and hours trying to piece together their past and figure¬†out the reasons for what they do and how to help them work through it all. I fight everyday to teach them a new way of thinking and to show them a better way of living. I struggle with making them feel safe enough that they’ll let their past experiences go.

Then there’s the weekly visits with “Mom”, and everything that I’ve worked so hard¬†for is questioned. My parenting style, my rules, my choices for them are judged and quite often ridiculed. They end up being showered with candy, and treats and zero expectations. I quickly become the bad guy again, and again, and again.

But I know that this¬†is all that they have with her and that’s all she has to give them. I know that her heart breaks for all that she’s lost with them, and I hope that if she could go back and choose differently, that she would. I also know that it’s easier to make me out to be the bad guy instead of taking all the blame for herself. And well, I guess I’ll take that.

While you live with your regrets, bad choices and the ability to bash me, I’m raising your babies. I’m watching them grow and change. I’m seeing breakthroughs and changes that I once never dreamed were possible. I’m watching the child that didn’t hardly speak for 6 months now sing and talk so much that we have to bribe her to just shush¬†for a minute. I’m at their award ceremonies and cheering them on at sporting events. I’m telling them that they don’t have to love me, because it makes them feel unloyal to you. I’m encouraging them to forgive you and all your mistakes.¬†I’m giving them permission to not call me Mom because they already have one.

So, I give you that. You can be their Mom. Please know that I will never disrespect you to them. I will love them like my own and I will raise them to the best of my ability. I promise you that they will leave me better than they came.

I will honor you as their Mother. But while they are with me, they are MINE.

*I must say that not all of my experiences with Bio-parents have been bad, and I’ve also had kids that have amazing extended families. This was just me clearing my head of 13 years of being Mom Number Two.

This post is Day 15 of the Summer Blog Challenge – 31 posts in 31 Days

Please visit my fellow challenge bloggers and read their stories.

Meaghan at Magz D Life
Tam at Tam I Am
Liam at In The Now
Jessica at2plus2X2