This post has been on my heart for a very long time. I always want to be open and honest about our experiences. I want to paint a very clear picture of what fostering has been for our family, and to let everyone in on our day to day. It's hard because I never want it to be at the expense of the boys. I don't want to betray their privacy. They are young and will not be able to fully process their history until they are much older. I don't want to blast all of their struggles to the public. However, I do want you to know them. I am pleading with you to get to know them.
I don't always tell the whole truth when people ask how things are going. Mostly, because I feel our truth and daily battles make people uncomfortable. I don't want people to think poorly of the boys. I don't want them to be afraid they'll hurt their kids... I don't want the boys to be rejected over and over. So, we don't host play dates, we don't attend play dates, we stay at home and mind our own business. I do it to protect them, and I do it to protect others, and for myself. They get really stressed around people, or when our routine is off. I know it'll end in total melt downs and freak outs. I'm worried people won't try to understand. It's not always pretty. We do discipline, we do not condone violent behavior, but we are desperately trying to gain their trust, facilitate healthy responses, and give them time to heal. They are doing very well, but when something goes wrong, they are back to the scared, lonely, angry little boys that entered our home. It's been 6 months, and it's also only been 6 months. They are making huge strides, and they are very lovable, at the same time hard to love. They have improper responses to affection. They get violent quick. Whistle is very aggressive towards me. He loves most people and kids.. for some reason he tests me the most. Everything is a battle (yes, he is 2), but I've been around kids my whole life and this is different. He hits, head butts, bites, and tries to pinch me 10+ times a day. He always looks at me with those big dark eyes in a way that brings me to tears. He needs to be assured no matter what, I am not going to hit him or abandoned him. This is my biggest struggle with fostering. I am not a superhero, I am not their savior. I am a mom trying to help my sons gather the pieces of their shattered lives and become whole again. It breaks my heart every minute of every day. I would much rather rock them, hold them, and love them in normal ways. I'm learning to love them while I'm being rejected. Oftentimes it's discouraging, frustrating, and impossible! I cannot do this without Jesus. I pray for His love and mercy each day, and He is faithful.
For example: this morning Smash had a major melt down at breakfast. I still don't know what caused it. He went silent and let out a scream of pain. Either the eggs were too hot in the middle, he gagged and couldn't breathe, or he bit his tongue.. something hurt, and he was MAD. He started screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing food, flailing, and trying to hit me. It took me five minutes (used to be a lot longer) of calm talking for him to even acknowledge me. I want to comfort him, I wish I could hug him in those moments, but I can't. He won't let me. Once he calmed down, I tried to help him find the words to explain what happened. We settled with "owie".. Then I said, "I'm sorry you got an owie and it made you upset, but you cannot hit mommy, ever." He smiled at me and said, "Thank you." He knows how to say sorry, and no-no, and all sorts of words he could have used in that moment. But, I know he really meant thank you. Thank you for helping me.
These moments happen over and over. I can anticipate some of them, and other times they seem out of the blue. They happen in the grocery store, at church, at home, at restaurants- if you spend any time with us, you will see it. Falling, bonking heads, toy sharing struggles, a lot of them result in a "seeing red" kind of tantrum. Smash runs away when he is hurt. Whistle has more of a "fight back" mentality. There are moments I think why did we choose to foster.. I can't do this anymore. It's too hard. It's too hard on Carson. It's too hard on our marriage. It's too much. Our home is not always safe, loving, and fun. I often wish life could be easier...We have opened our lives to a lot of darkness, and although love and truth reigns in our home, the pains they endured linger, and we all feel the weight of it. Every single day.
...But, then Whistle asks for me over Jake at bed time and wants me to sing Jesus Loves Me. Then Smash falls and runs to me for comfort instead of running away from me. Or Smash decides to take a deep breath instead of running away and throwing things in a rage. And Whistle flashes his killer smile and says "I love you." And, as of this month, they both say Mommy in a way that brings me to my knees with hope and I know I can do this.
** It is hard, it is also wonderfully beautiful. I am a better mom for this experience. I am so full of hope I could sob all day. To experience the supernatural love, patience, and strength of our Lord is humbling... and I absolutely couldn't do this without Jake. If you've spent any time around him and the boys, you can see he's a total rockstar. Please continue to pray for the boys, Carson, and our family. We have another hearing in February.. maybe I'll have an update.