When you feel at wits end…..

I’ve been really overwhelmed. The last couple weeks I felt I was floundering in all this parenting stuff. I’m not saying I have it figured out now.

But I can breathe again.

Fostering and adoption in some ways is like having a baby. In the way that you have no idea what exactly is going to change when this new life (or lives) makes their entrance into your world. You can’t predict the amount of sleep you may or may not get, how long the adrenaline of the newness will last, and what you just wont be able to handle. You try to prepare and plan but it’s life. The thing that tends to be different though with fostering and adoption is typically the onlookers do not view it like giving birth to a new baby. It’s not their fault. I think it’s a lack of awareness. But it’s awkward asking for baby showers and meal trains, ya know what I mean? (But now you know so it’s on you :-/ 😉 ) So I reckon a lot of foster/adoptive families just hunker down and push through it but some times you just need to ask for help.

I didn’t actually have to ask for help (I should have asked) but I was crying out enough to my parents that the Holy Spirit prompted them to come. Praise the Lord! My mom came one week, with her little foster baby in tow. They used frequent flyer miles and jumped through DFCS travel request hoops, navigated airports and plane rides and baggage claims, all for me and my family. And it was good. I still cried almost every day as my mom and I processed everything that was going on from schedules, sleep issues, behaviors, healthy ways to approach everything and additionally wondering where the loss of our baby played into all this. It was wonderful having a listening, intuitive, compassionate ear, another set of eyes around, not to mention the helping hands. And Jason kept all the children, all 6!, so we could have a Barnes and Noble date to pick up some new parenting material. I was bawling my eyes out on the way to the airport as that Reckless Love song played because I felt “God has shown me his reckless love time and again through my parents.” What a blessing. I want to be this for my children.

And then the next week my dad came. And that was fantastic. I was able to get some appointments in, child free, including getting my hair done. My dad’s company is so comforting. He is great at running errands and taking the kids to places like the animal shelter and coming home with a free bunny. I love having him here. He is a constant source of affirmation and encouragement and sometimes that’s exactly what a mom needs.

I was uplifted though and I can tell that there has been a shift in the overall tone in our home. It went from chaotic and stressful and everyone was feeling it to now there is peace and joy and truly I can tell the kids sense this as well. Everyone’s behavior and moods are better. Whoever said the mother sets the tone of the home was right! And that’s no easy feat. Please continue to pray for me!

But my main point is, if you need help, ask someone! It’s hard, I get it. I tend to think in my mind “We chose to have all these kids we should be able to handle this transition ourselves.” But when the Bible instructs us to “bear each other’s burdens” I believe this would be an example of just that. God didn’t mean for us to do this alone. And I know they are my parents but they are Christians, too, responding to the Holy Spirit. As Christians this is what we are called to do for our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10 NIV

I also wanted to share some of the helpful reading material that I’ve utilized with our little guys and combined with a peaceful mother these books and “tactics” have been tremendously helpful. I think we are beginning to break through with some behaviors which is immensely encouraging because at first I was like “is this even helping?!?” You guys I am SO impatient. Another thing the Lord has been impressing on me but I don’t want to get side tracked.

For the parent:

The Connected Child (a must read!)

For the children:

Hands are not for Hitting

Sharing Time

(Lots of books similar to these, I want them all!!!)

I read these books to the boys daily and quote phrases from them during the day. They are so good. Very simple and direct but the boys totally get it.

Thank you for your prayers. In the last week we have had some wonderful times of bonding and joy (and full nights sleep for J). We celebrated they’re 2nd and 3rd birthdays this week which was such a treat and milestone for us as a family. God is with us.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

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an honest update

I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. So many other things I should probably be doing. But when the Lord leads….. I came to my computer to print off a “sleeping log” because our two year old is not sleeping through the night. I have been aware of this sleep issue. Every time we’ve kept K and J we would experience night time waking. Grandma would even share with me that they would get up and “play” in the middle of the night, have a 3 am snack, whatever. I thought it was a product of bad habits and we could quickly correct it with a few nights of letting him cry, self soothe, get himself back to sleep. You know, instead of intervening with gold fish and mickey mouse clubhouse. It’s been a month and I realize once again how ignorant I am. This is a much deeper and bigger problem than I thought. We’re not only experiencing sleepless nights with J but he’s also exhibiting behavioral issues, aggression and anger. I mean can you blame him? I just got off the phone with my parents (in tears) having an “I don’t know what to do!” moment. I’m discouraged. I’m tired. I know the parenting tools I’ve utilized for 11 years aren’t completely useless but in this moment I feel like I have no tools and no clue what I’m doing. And it’s different with K and J now because they are here to stay and I want to give them the very best and what they need to benefit them for their whole life.

You know how it is when you bring home a newborn baby and you’re figuring everything out. You’re unsure, you’re trying new things, trial and error,… I look back and think how sweet it was to bring home this blank canvas of a newborn that I carried safely in my womb with no trauma. It was hard and we made some mistakes but they weren’t devastating. I feel like I did then, a new parent we’ve brought home a 2 year who’s canvas is not blank, in fact at conception someone took a bunch of black paint and dumped it all over and for the last 2 years people have been putting their brush strokes on it trying to “fix” it. He’s not this clean, white canvas. He’s been hurt, neglected, yanked around, has trust issues. He doesn’t know how to sleep or self soothe or deal with his big emotions. Just because J has lived in two “good homes” (ours and great grandparents) doesn’t mean that he’s unaffected by every move, every visit, every strange face waltzing in and out of his life.

My heart has so much compassion for him.

But I’m human and we’ve had some hard days with this little guy. I’ve felt defeated and insecure, I’ve been impatient (with everyone), I’ve been waking up bewildered on how to go about my day. Some days I have felt like we’ve been in time out all.day.long. and I go to bed thinking “What a waste of a day? Did I accomplish anything?” I have felt like a tyrant raising a tyrant. And then of course there are the other four imperfect children to shepherd as well. So yeah, I guess you could say, one month in we are DEFINITELY still adjusting, to say the least.

In the weariness, hopelessness, defeat and exhaustion I finally made myself get out of bed early enough to cry out to Jesus. Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” I picked up Paul David Tripp’s book “Parenting”. In it he writes a sweet reminder, “Here is the single redemptive reality, right here, right now, that makes parenting possible: God in you……This means that God is with you in the morning when you dread getting out of bed and facing another hard parenting day. He is with you when you have to break up the seventeenth squabble of the morning. He is with you when you have an opening for a very important talk. He is with you when your children are in your face and disrespectful. He is with you when you fall into bed with a combination of exhaustion and regret. He gifts you with His presence. He really does live inside you. You aren’t left to yourself. And he will not turn his back on you until what he has called you to do is complete.”

Today I checked out from our library the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and have already dove in. Apparently sleeplessness can make for one difficult toddler! No kidding!! I know we have a long road ahead, with lots more to learn. I don’t have a neat little bow to wrap this blog up with. But I am printing out some sleep logs and taking the next step and God is in me. I do want to leave you with this song though, because it’s a new favorite of mine and a reminder of how I should love others, as Christ loves me, but it’s been a really timely reminder in my parenting and love for little J. Oh I pray that God would continue to strengthen me with his Spirit and his reckless love.