Foster Parenting

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Celebrating My One Little Word

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for hosting this space to celebrate the little things in life. It is those things that matter the most.  Please visit her site to read what others are celebrating.

I chose my OLW last year with a lens on my professional life.  My word, cultivate, was chosen because I wanted to concentrate on providing space and opportunities for teachers and students to take risks, have conversations, and grow.

One of the definitions of cultivate is "to promote the growth and development of; to foster."

When I chose this word last January, I was spending half my day with fifth graders and the other half as the literacy coach of my building.  I kept this word front and center in choosing the language I used, how I framed questions, and the support I offered.

Little did I know that my word would come to mean so much more.  When "our girls" came back to live with us in October, my idea of cultivating an environment for growth took on a whole new meaning.  Raising children who come from traumatic backgrounds has been very different from raising my own children.  The girls have seen and heard things that I cannot even fathom.  Their trust has been broken by those they love most.  My husband and I have learned that "time outs' don't work.  Sending them to their rooms brings on feelings of abandonment and anxiety.  Instead, we do "time ins."  We hold them close and tell them that we aren't going anywhere until they feel safe.  We've learned that what we perceive as disobedience is really the result of them having to make decisions on their own.  We are learning brand new parenting skills.

Our days go up and down.  There are days when things are easy and everything goes smoothly and then there are days of tears and despair and I wonder if I have the strength to keep doing this.  Our lives are in limbo because we don't know how long they will be with us.  We live by court dates, waiting to hear what the next steps are.

The last months have given me the opportunity for so much to celebrate...

  • I realized that my husband and I rarely have bad days at the same time.  When one of us is at the end of our ropes, the other is there to support and encourage.
  • Our three adult children are patient and flexible.
  • Both girls have incredible therapists.  They are true advocates for the girls.
  • My colleague told me recently that D was skipping down the hall and no one had the heart to tell her to walk because it was so nice to see her be so happy.
  • A is feeling stronger and is learning to trust.  She knows our love is not conditional upon her behavior.
  • Other moms who have gone through similar experiences are willing to reach out and share resources and knowledge.
  • My faith leads me and brings me peace.  We don't know the next steps.  That is hard for me.  I like to have a plan and I'm learning to trust God's plan for us.  So many things have happened that I know aren't coincidences.  Each new person or event brings something good to us.
  • Bedtime rocking and reading stories are a soothing routine for both D and me.
  • Respite care from my colleagues comes when I most need it.
Cultivate has been a good word for me this year.  Even though I began with the intention to help others grow, I think it is me who has benefitted the most.  I have grown in many ways that I didn't expect.  I've learned that I have strength that I didn't know I had.  Each new challenge has brought new opportunities to learn, and for that I am thankful.

Here's wishing you a Happy New Year! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Light #haikuforhealing

When I pulled into the driveway tonight, the lights from the Christmas tree brought a sense of peace.  (However, if you walked into my house, you'd notice that this serene scene is a bit misleading as the rest of the house looks like a tornado ran through.)

Thank you Mary Lee Hahn for the #haikuforhealing challenge.


I am linking  a day late to Margaret Simon's DigiLit Sunday and Mary Lee Hahn's #haikuforhealing. Michelle is curating the haikus.   Funny thing, I created the Haiku Deck last night with the intention of embedding it into my blog after we got our girl to bed.  Well, as often happens to best laid plans, she couldn't go to sleep, so I laid down with her and we listened to two rounds of my sleep meditation app.  Guess who fell asleep first?

As I mentioned in earlier posts, our family makeup changed in October.  The days have been stressful as we deal with issues we've not dealt with before, but they've also been full of joy.  When talking to a friend, I likened our new situation to Glennon Doyle's "brutiful," both brutal and beautiful.

There is so much to be grateful for during this time.  We have two girls who are thriving.  It's so rewarding to watch them settle in, relax, and feel safe.  Our grown children, extended family and friends are willing to help us out whenever we need them.  "It takes a village," has never been truer and I am so appreciative.  With the Christmas season upon us, it's very fun to have young children in the house again. Their presence invites us to slow down and relish the joy.

And yes, that sweet little girl pictured below is the same one who couldn't sleep last night.  :)

Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Healing our Hearts

Ruth Ayres invites us to celebrate even the littlest things.  I am joining the Celebration Link Up as well as Mary Lee Hahn's #haikuforhealing.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my mother-in-law passed away earlier this week, and we celebrated her life at her memorial service yesterday.  I want to celebrate the love and support we've received this past week.  Phone calls, texts, cards, Voxers, friends driving four hours to attend the service all meant the world to us.  We're spent and emotionally exhausted, but so grateful for everyone who reached out to comfort us during this difficult time.

Cousins who don't get to see each other very often

kindness soothes sadness
soft words, tender hugs, warm smiles
help heal our hurting hearts

Friday, December 2, 2016

Legacy #haikuforhealing

I am joining Mary Lee Hahn's December haiku-a-day challenge.  I am also linking to Poetry Friday with Bridget at wee words for wee ones (for the very first time).

Today we said our final good-byes to my mother-in-law.  Family and friends gathered at the Ashtabula United Methodist Church for her memorial service.  It was a beautiful service, the highlight being the time that people from the congregation stood and shared stories.  While I didn't stand up and share a story, my heart was filled with gratitude for the beauty of her life and the legacy she left behind.  I couldn't help but smile when we went down to lunch prepared by the ladies of the church and saw "Shirley's Cake." Shirley always volunteered to help prepare food and serve for funeral lunches.  She always made the same thing and it lovingly became known as "Shirley's Cake." One of the ladies had gotten my mother-in-law's recipe.  It only felt right that I should take a piece today.


You touched so many
Loving, Graceful, Compassionate
Your legacy lives on

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hope #haikuforhealing

I don't usually participate in poetry posts. Today, though, I was reminded of Mary Lee Hahn's post when I read Margaret Simon's December Haiku post. The last two months have been a struggle and I've reacted by closing into my shell and silencing my writing. I know better. Writing is healing for me. I decided to take a leap and join the December Haiku Writing challenge. Credit for the photo goes to my 7 year old foster daughter who enjoys taking pictures with my phone. #haikuforhealing  

Searching for solace
                                                            Hope tentatively  blossoms 
                                                            Within my being