Knowing your body is a good thing. Knowing how much you can tolerate or withstand is important to your health, as well as that of your family and relationships. My pride used to be very strong in the area of assuming I could handle anything. Not much would rile me up or overwhelm me. I was patient and pretty even keeled.
Then I became a foster parent.
After experiencing personal health issues related to the first and second foster care placements, I learned that while my mind may not seem stressed at the change in our household composition, my body screams it. My eating and sleeping patterns change. My blood pressure seems to rise as my weight drops. Knowing the signs and exactly how much I can handle it is important. After the last time of taking on too much, I want to be careful not to do that again. It is not fair to anyone.
When I saw the phone number on caller I.D. this afternoon, I knew exactly who it was – our foster care agency. My guess was that it was a placement call. My hope was that is was to set up a 6-month home inspection appointment.
It ended up being a call to find a place for 2 toddlers. (Did you see my post on Facebook?) As they started to go through the details I stopped them, explaining that we could not take the kids right now. “We are remodeling and the room they would stay in is covered in a drop cloth and power tools. The ceiling is in the process of being taken down. It just is not possible.” What I did not add was, “My stress levels are so high right now with the remodel, behavioral issues with one kid, husband attending school, and smaller things, I can not take on the added stress of a new foster care placement. My husband is even more stressed with work and an upcoming business trip. It would not be fair to us as individuals, our marriage, our family, or the kids.” It is best to stick with the “remodel/drop cloth/no bedroom” side of things.
Even though I said, “No”, and they were more than cordial about it, I began to reflect on what it was like to have new kids in the house. Our last placement was last summer, after which we said there had to be a larger age gap between Jack and anyone younger. Here are some posts I have written concerning some of our experiences:
Foster Care, Adoption and the Waiting – This post was written just over a year ago. Seems like forever ago, yet just yesterday, that we went through all of this.
I also started a series to put into more detail some of the first months and year of having George and Jack here. Something else I realized is that I have talked very, very little, as in almost nothing, about the 2 kids before George and Jack. We seem to be going backwards in our parenting, starting with teenagers then moving on to toddlers.
I used to joke with my parents that I would just adopt kids at 17, raise them for a year, then send them off into the world. While I was joking, I always imagined that as the ‘easy’ way to parent. I have since learned that it may actually be the hardest way to parent. You are trying to have an affect on a kid with whom you have no history, no common ground to fall back to when hard times come, no history to see you through the rough patches. How can a kid that age trust that you have their best interest at heart when they do not know you, when you have not shown them over and over that you can be relied on? God knew what he was doing when he gave parents kids as little tiny babies. Those first, early foundations of trust are critical for the later years.