Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I am okay- We are okay- And that is okay

I had great trepidation approaching reunification for our foster daughter.
Not that it wasn’t the right move or the right timing, it absolutely was, but I was anticipating the grieving. I was anticipating feeling the bottom fall out and I was unsure how I would handle it all this go around. 

I’d grieved Little Man who’d been with us for three months, a little boy who I loved dearly...but he had never called me Mommy because he was a baby. I just knew saying goodbye to Sunshine was going to be brutal. I loved her. We loved her. She called me Mommy and there was a level there we’d reached that I hadn't been to before.  I texted and messaged seasoned foster Moms for advice, I read up on healthy grieving practices and listened to podcasts from experts in the foster care world. I even chopped my hair off to do something new and fun. For someone who isn’t a fan of details I did a lot of research. I wanted to be prepared. 

I am an emotional person. I am a deep feeling, feel all the things all the time kind of person. I’m not out of touch by feelings or surprised by them- they are my constant companion. What I wanted was an actual break from them. I wanted to not feel. Just for a little while I wanted to numb it all because when you feel all the time, well... it’s exhausting. And I was pooped. 

The big day came, a little quicker than we initially thought but definitely the right time. We said our goodbyes and gave hugs and jumped in the car and cried.
It was a happy day, a very happy day for their family and a weird day for ours. I went home and took a nap, exhausted from the emotional roller coaster,  and spent the next few days a little sad here and there. I was waiting for the gush of emotions to come. I kept saying I didn’t want them to- but I was sure they’d show up eventually. 

Our kids were sad the first day but then bounced back and the behavior issues we’d started to see creeping in began to disappear before our very eyes. It became even more clear to us that the timing of this reunification was perfect for more than just her. It was a weird normal we began adjusting to, but a good one. Our kids were happy, we were more attentive and it felt like we could breathe for the first time in seven months. Like an actual deep breath. This had been a hard seven months. 

When you are fostering... your lives, for better or worse, are ruled by the system. The dozens of players in the game, the bio family, the visits, appointments, emails and phone calls. Schedules are at the mercy of the system and while our experience with the it has not been negative - it is still a structure we fit into and do not control. And it rules your emotions and your calendar. It’s a sacrifice you make, but it doesn’t make it easy! 

We have said before our foster daughter was only supposed to be with us for a short time.  30 Days in fact. The reality that we had her for seven months meant that we had to juggle things we never expected to need to juggle- like childcare, sleeping arrangements, transportation, furnishings, vacation plans and most of all... the different parenting required for a 3 year old girl who'd experienced trauma and all the behavior that came with it. It was an incredibly hard adjustment to make and one that left us more tapped than we’d been before. There was a strain we were feeling and while so much good happened, it wasn't without battle wounds. 

So when we went to the ocean this weekend, the place that consistently brings me peace and a kind of connection to God I don’t get elsewhere, I was sure my own waves of emotion would finally hit. 

But what I felt was utter peace. Standing there watching the waves roll in and the natural white noise drowning out my anxious thoughts...there was peace. 

Peace with how I was feeling, which was totally okay.
Peace with our family of five.
Peace with the decision to take a long break from fostering and focus on encouragement of support of others.
Peace about exciting things coming our way this year and new adventures we've just begun to pray over. 
Peace about the fact that I wasn’t really sad.
And the realization that I needint feel guilty over the fact that I wasn’t grieving heavily. 

It didn’t mean I didn’t love her or care for her or go all in for her because I did. 
It didn’t mean that I don’t miss her or moments with her because I absolutely do. 
It meant that this was hard and that relief was okay- especially because I fully supported and believed in this reunification- no matter what happens in the future. 
I am grateful for the part we played and I’m grateful our family is back to the five of us.
And I’m okay with being okay.

Guilt is something we can all struggle with. 
We feel guilty when we are doing too much and lack the time or space to give our family.
We feel guilty when we are sure we aren’t doing enough and struggle with feeling inadequate, intensified with the constant stream of accomplishments social media pummels us with. 
Heck, we feel guilty for feeling guilty! 

Friends, I'm just going to remind you, that’s not from God and it’s not healthy. It takes a constant awareness and effort on our part to push away those feelings and find contentment in the place we are in for the season we are in it for. 
There’s a freedom that Christ offers that sets us free from the need to be everything for everyone all the time. We just aren't meant to be that for anyone, including ourselves. Take a breath- be present where God has you and if the season is crazy, make sure you're taking care of yourself and taking breaks. You can only give as much as you have. If it's a season of quiet and rest...trust that God is doing a work inside you to prepare you for what is next. There is no idle time- even if we don't see that with our eyes. 


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