Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!!

Parenting is HARD. Nobody and nothing, not even the 27 mandatory hours of DHS training, could have possibly prepared us for how difficult it is to be a parent. The rose-colored glasses with baby-girl-etched lenses I’ve been wearing for so long are gone. In their absence, I have seen what it REALLY means to be a mom, the good, the bad and the ugly. This week we’ve experienced some of the ugliest moments yet. Once again, God is using our struggles to bring us closer to Him; my strength alone is just not sufficient to even get me through the day as of late.

A quick glimpse at some of the less glamorous parts of parenting: The money I used to set aside for clothes? Well, it still gets spent on clothes; they’re just not for me. The time I used to spend relaxing after school? It’s now spent throwing a football, jamming my fingers whilst trying to catch it, then fishing said football out of the poison ivy infested creek behind our house. My favorite shows? Replaced by SpongeBob and movies that involve talking animals (a bit creepy frankly). My Pioneer Woman cooking? Well, trips to Wal-Mart are yet to be well-received, so all experimental meals are on hold. (To be honest, I’m not super sad about that). Privacy? I’m going to need a definition; I’ve forgotten the meaning. I’ve had to really, REALLY work at perspective. Remember, we’re not used to having anyone in our home but the two of us, and on top of that this is not your typical child. PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE. No new clothes? Materialism combatant. Poison ivy exposure? Discovering once and for all if I’m really allergic. Movies with talking animals? Down time to turn off my brain and think about nothing. No Wal-Mart shopping? Well, those benefits are just obvious. No privacy? More exercise when racing to time my bathroom trips to match his.

I’ve also had to really hold on to the more beautiful parts of this journey and replay them in my head throughout the day, lingering on them when I’m feeling some major stress-induced eye-twitching coming on. For instance, one of my favorite times of the day is bedtime, when he’s FINALLY settled in (after the hundredth excuse to get out of bed), we sit together, and I read to him from Harry Potter as he falls asleep. Also, I know that it’s a little early for him to call me Mom, but as he couldn’t remember my name half the time, after the first few days we gave up and gave in; I don’t mind. I like helping him with his homework, all the while secretly helping him with his self-esteem too. He says he gets smarter every day here. Sometimes he says things that are totally hilarious and recalling them later can still make me laugh. I can pick his face out of a crowd of kids in a matter of seconds, and there are moments when the recognition that I have when looking at his face is both overwhelming and familiar. Also, surprisingly, buying clothes for someone else is ALMOST as fun as shopping for yourself! J

Thankfully, the good days are increasing in number, the bad days are turning into shorter, more manageable bad moments, and the ugly, well, it’s best when forgotten quickly. Every day is new, and God is good. I rest in the knowledge that God does not call the equipped. Rather, He equips the called. We have answered His call, and we have faith that He is still on the other end of the line.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Addition!

There are several versions out there of a quote that should be my bumper sticker as many times as I’ve lived it: “If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.” Remember all of those things I wrote about us wanting a baby? Well, we do. And we believe with all of our hearts that we will adopt one someday soon. But as I write this, we have a child in our home who is much, much older than said baby. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but it goes something like this…

God began a stirring in my heart for a child that I know personally - we’ll call them “P”. P was set to go to a shelter Tuesday night after the latest foster home said they were done with P. I knew that they would allow P to come to our home before our training was done because I knew P (a non-related kinship). I knew there were unspeakable things in P’s past, and a future of unsettling uncertainties. I also knew that P had a lot of issues that would cause most people to run the other way. This knowledge gave me ringside seats to my own internal knock-down drag-out. In this corner, weighing heavily on my mind: what I want to do!!!! And in this corner, weighing heavily on my heart: what I know I should do!!! As you’ve probably guessed, my heart won that fight. People have just been amazed at what we’ve chosen to do and have given us so much praise, but I just have to say, “It’s a God thing.” This weekend my pastor put into words exactly what I was thinking at that pivotal moment: “Somebody’s got to do something; it might as well be me!” We are so conditioned to not let in the hurt, because when we really allow ourselves to feel it, we can’t NOT act. I could have turned my back and then spent the rest of my life trying to ignore the guilt, or I could step into the unknown, let the pain of the burden fill me up, take a leap of faith, and change a life. Truth is, my head was never really in the fight after all.

I know people are wondering if this is permanent, and if not, how long we will have P. We are not planning on it being a permanent placement, but the truth is, we have no idea how long P will be in our home. Our first priority is getting P settled and helping P feel safe and secure. DHS’s goal is to eventually put P in a home with brother and sister and, well, we are just not willing to adopt 3 kiddos right now. We don’t know when or if they will find that home. Although we've already had really, REALLY tough days, our commitment to P’s well-being has not wavered, nor will it. We will do what is best for P first, and that is really the only way I know how to answer that question. There’s not much I can say about how I know P, came to get P, or really anything about P, due to the fact that DHS frowns upon divulging too much, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Going into this whole process, I never imagined having a child that I couldn’t carry in my arms (or at least push in a stroller) at my age! I CAN say that we were in over our heads before P ever walked in the door, but we are all learning together.

A few lessons I, for one, have learned in the past few days (just thought I’d share):
1)      The word BEER on a root beer bottle is just too prominent. Inspires lots of inappropriate comments, usually spoken in a loud volume for the restaurant to hear. Note to self: ask for a cup instead!
2)    If you don’t specifically say WASH YOUR HAIR, it doesn’t happen. TAKE A SHOWER is just not detailed enough.
3)    Kids are expensive, and a Wal-Mart trip is not a good idea when they have a bad case of the “I wants.”
4)    Kids can melt your heart one minute and break it the next.
5)    The way they can get up each morning after the cards some of them have been dealt is nothing short of heroic (e.g. having everything they’ve ever owned stripped from them in an instant).
6)    Nothing makes you love your husband more than seeing him play with a child that worships him.
7)    Even this type of motherhood changes you instantaneously. It brings out all of your protective instincts, and you realize just how self-centered your life has really been.  
8)    Love isn’t enough, but it goes a long way. Also, singing a Taylor Swift song together at the top of your lungs helps with the bonding.
9)    Kids will surprise you when you least expect it, and often in the best ways.
10) Kids tell it like it is, whether you want to hear it or not.

Like I said, I’m learning a lot, and I know that when we DO get a baby, these lessons will prove invaluable. And who knows, P just might be around to see it!