The last time I wrote, I think the kids had been with us for 2 weeks...well tomorrow will be 15 weeks, or 3 1/2 months. Even as I sit here and think about what to say about them and us, I struggle. Of course we love them and they have taught us so much, but it has not been easy. So, I will just speak what's on my heart and hopefully you can get the picture.
These kids are great, seriously...GREAT kids. I can't imagine what they have been through...being yanked from their family, put in a stranger's home (who happens to not be the same color you are - so looks completely different, has COMPLETELY different routines, eats different things, etc.), and forced to adjust to a new way of living. Seriously...can't even imagine. Dave brought it to my attention for the first time a few weeks ago...our first memories were somewhere between 3 and 4 years old...maybe even closer to 5 with me. Which means, they may not even remember us, specifically. I do wonder if they will remember more vividly the details since it is related to a trauma in their life, but what exactly will they remember? Our names? What we look like? The dogs (and ALL their licks!!)? Our house? Their rooms? Timeouts spent in those rooms? What it feels like to live in a (moderately) clean home, and wear clean clothes, and BE clean? Certain foods (they LOVE to eat edamame...pretty sure they are not going to be eatin' edamame when they go home :) but who knows??)? Church? Praying before meals and before bedtime? Acting out Bible stories on the felt board (thanks Jan!)? Who God is? Reading stories on the couch before bedtime? There is a good chance they won't remember the details...but we do hope and pray that somewhere along the way we have taught them (really God has used us to teach them) some important ideas - how to be kind to each other, how to love people (and animals), how to love and obey God, how to follow rules and accept consequences when you break them, and how to pop edamame beans out of the pod :) It's just so weird and crazy and sad to think that we have no idea what all they will remember, if anything...and if I'm real honest, it adds to other things that make it hard to "finish strong" since we are pretty sure they are going home, possibly soon-ish.
Ok, back to my first thought (this is what happens when you don't write anything in 3 months) - these kids are GREAT and have been a HUGE blessing in our lives. However...they are still 2 and 3 (really almost 3 and 4). And they are VERY strong willed children...her more so than him. They have been very challenging at times to parent. One of the hardest things for me is that I hear my friends, who have similar age kids, saying their kids are doing very similar things - so I proceed to treat them, and discipline them, the same as those kids who have experienced no trauma, had healthy pre-natal care, healthy births, nurturing first few years of life, etc. And attached to that, and probably the bigger issue, I have the same expectations as a parent would have of their kids whom they've parented since day 1 of their life. I went to a conference last Saturday that reminded me that these kids don't have all that. Their brain responds differently and they act differently because of that. I felt much like I do after going to an awesome training on Autism or how to be a better teacher - refreshed, rejuvenated, remembering why I started teaching in the first place, and ready to go back to my classroom and get started on all these new ideas (or remembering to implement ones I've already learned). It was such a good refresher and a good reminder to give them more grace, more nurture, and more love. I feel in a way that I've failed these kids in some of those ways. Not that they don't need structure and rules, and need to learn the VERY important concept of consequences and how to obey...but it's just finding that balance that sometimes I feel like I lost at some point along the way. And maybe that's how it is with all parents - it's HARD. And I blame pinterest and facebook and myself for making me think it was going to be anything but that. I love my friends and their cute, silly, fun-having posts and pics with their kids, but man it is NOT all fun and games. My good friend, and fellow foster mom, Rachel reminded me that I was crazy for ever thinking it was always going to be fun...I believe her exact words were, "WHAT?? Who ever told you that?? Cuz they are liars. I certainly did not tell you that!!" I'm thankful that I have friends who bring me back to reality and am even more thankful that I know and trust a God who doesn't promise "fun" or "happiness" but DOES promise struggles, blessings (which could be your struggles), growth, eternal riches, and the glorifying of HIS name, not mine.
All this to say - it hasn't been easy, and God is certainly changing and growing me (which is probably never easy), but it has been wonderful to serve God through these kids and I pray that in the end, God will be proud of how we loved them and how we taught them about who He is and how much He loves them...which is far greater than any amount of love that I can show them, and that is why I will trust Him when they go home...because I know that He loves them and can protect them FAR greater than I can.
So here's an attempt hit the highlights of the past 3 months...
- summer was great...maybe I'm just saying that now that I've been in school for a while and it's just much more to try to handle...but I had "fun" staying home with them - particularly doing things like riding the DART train to the zoo, traveling to Houston to visit my family, swimming, playdates, staying in pajamas until noon, and being able to workout (we found out that it's FREE for us to take them to the gym and have them play while we workout...score!) whenever I wanted.
- working and being a mom is hard...thankfully, I have a WONDERFULLY HELPFUL husband who knows how to help and knows what I need...I think things will get easier once we hire a cleaning lady (hun, by the way, I think we should hire a cleaning lady, no?)
- daycare = sick kids...they have had a constant stream of snot for the 6 weeks they have been in daycare; they have taken 3 of my 5 sick days that I'm allotted each year as a teacher...1 of which is today...after being on antibiotics for strep throat for 8 days, the daycare called this morning to say she has a fever :( it's been "fun" to figure out sick kids when working...although I will say having 1 sick one at home is wayyyyyy easier than 2 sick ones
- visits are going pretty well...we have come to the conclusion that their CPS caseworker is "seeing rainbows" but we are new to this so we also know that we have no idea how it all works and that anything can happen at any time...their next court date is early December and "if mom keeps it up, they see it moving pretty quickly"
- I get to plan my first kid birthday party!! Little mamma's birthday is October 15. **warning for those that are coming - there will be no frills or thrills - we are keeping it low key...as much "fun" as it would be to compete with the pinterest and facebook moms in the "who can throw the most elaborate, fun, cute, DIY toddler birthday party" contest...I know with me working, it would just completely stress me out and I'd be up all night the night before. So...we are having it a park and we will eat and play - on the playground equipment that is already there and is free to use and that the kids love to play on (but WHY do I still have this itch to create fun little kid birthday party activities and games?? okay, maybe there will be ONE organized game....and WHY am I still searching pinterest for cute party favors that will take hours to make and minutes to be tossed in the trash?? THAT'S CRAZY, right??)
- big brother's favorite song right now is one he learned at church (don't even know the name of it, but you all know how it goes) - "my God is so BIG, so STRONG, and so MIGHTY there's nothing my God cannot do" - love that he will just break out singing this song at any moment
- big brother has also started pee wee soccer - so cute! he is no doubt an athlete and he really enjoys it (although we've only made it 1 out of the 2 weeks)...Dave and I also are the "coaches" so that has been "fun" (again, for the 1 week we have done it); basketball starts in December, and she will be 3, so they could both do that if they wanted
- we're thinking about doing Halloween with some friends who have 2 2-year olds and they will all be characters of the Backyardigans...so cute! My dogs have already thanked the kids for being here and saving them from having to be dressed up to fulfill a mommy itch :) But don't you worry Rox and Clark...I haven't forgotten about you (even though it may seem like that with 0 trips to the dog park and only a handful of walks since June 20)...there WILL be dog costumes too!!!
Also - a friend shared this blog post with me a while back and although I can't relate to everything....it gives a good "picture" of what I am feeling most of the time and she says it way better than I ever could. So...if you've got another couple of minutes please check out this, as it gives a little more light on what it's like here in the Blevins' home these days:
Thanks for reading and I do intend to post more often than every 3 months :)