I’m operating under a false pretence. The world at large sees me as a woman with so much patience. I’m not. Granted, I once was. But somewhere along the line it ran out. I persevere but without patience.
Three years into this adventure, I’m jaded. In a way, I suppose I’ve burned out. Reality has set in. Heart-warming holidays are beyond my grasp; at the moment using the washroom without being assailed by a barrage of voices is impossible. Simple trips to the park result in pandemonium. I won’t bore you with the unbearable stress of grocery shopping. My fists are clenched just writing out a list of what we need. Mellow-dramatic? No. It’s reality. Still in the midst of my depletion, I’ve taken on a fourth child.
I don’t like her much. Saying the Lord prompted me to accept the placement is true, yet it doesn’t make it easy. I’m praying the reward of obedience is the grace to see this through.
The world of special needs is not one I intentionally entered. “I could never do it” is what I always said. Then suddenly I was. And am. Raising four special needs children is going to be challenging. Three was enough. But the fourth needed to come here. She’d broken things down at her last home. There was nowhere else for her to go. That’s what got me here. My first child was out of options as well. The new addition reminds me a lot of Sabrina. Maybe she’ll blossom the same way. Not sure. I was a different person when Sabrina first came. Patience and confidence were core pillars of my personality. In addition, she was the only child in my home. She got so much attention, the control and insecurity subsided as much as it possibly can. It’s hard to convince a child who has gone hungry that they never will again. It’s happened. I can’t change that reality. But I can consistently put food on the table so they know, at least in my house, they don’t need to worry quite so much. Still there are other houses and other people. Sloane was immensely concerned about whether or not my sister would have food as we got ready for a two week visit. “Is there food for you and me?” was the question. Seems she’s been places where there isn’t. As a gesture of good faith, my sister sent cookies with my brother who picked us up from the airport. Thankfully Sloane is exceptionally articulate. The remaining three are not. Barrages of anger and tears are now met with frustration. I don’t want to figure out what it’s all about. “Just stop!” My command falls on deaf ears. It’s so complicated and convoluted. The issue is compounded by years of pain, suffering, injustice, and loss. It’s murky. I don’t have a solution. There’s no way to eradicate the truth of a lifetime – even a short one, as is the case with my 2yr old (surprise! After returning from my sister’s Sloane’s sister, Carley, joined our home). I’m tired. I’d just like to sit down and check my emails. Sabrina, I don’t care that Sloane took your play cell phone from the dollar store. You’re 16. Why do you even need a play cell phone? In the end the toy goes in the garbage. Sloane’s lost a few items that way. It only seemed ‘fair’.
There’s a prevailing need to grab onto things. Even imagined potential loss of possessions or food cause a hurricane of panic. In Sabrina’s mind it is the end of the world if Sloane plays with her phone and uses up all the batteries. It’s a toy. The batteries can be replaced. You’re 16. She’s 3. There’s no room for rationale. Certain items bring on bigger storms than others. The small ones I can talk them through. The big ones cause me to toss the item overboard. It’s quick. In no way painless for them or me, who has to hear the increased level of their screams. But that’s the point I’m at. It’s not the item itself, but a long chain leading back to some incident or someone somewhere. I can’t sort it out. Especially when Sabrina fails to make any sense at all. Eventually they’ll grab onto another item. It’s not a lesson learned. Yet it temporarily alleviates the problem. Once the storm’s begun, it’ll always rage around that particular item. Now it’s gone. I’ve initiated more loss, dealt another serving of injustice. This is the point I’m at.
Megan, my new addition, are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into? Two weekends at my house made it seem so appealing. But the reality is something else.
After three years at her former home, Megan couldn’t pack her bags fast enough to get to my house. Tragic. At 10yrs of age, she’s significantly delayed. It’s not all giggles and hugs like you’d imagine. The cruelty dished out to these children comes back onto the ones who really love them and are trying to help. Sabrina ranting that she’d rather be dead than live in my house hurts after 3yrs of completely devoting myself to her. It didn’t hurt at first, but now it does.
Explaining the trials to people on the outside doesn’t convey the reality. Even in telling the stories, I can hear how insignificant it seems, “Carley really wanted to play outside while I was making dinner. She kept bringing me her shoes and the sunscreen.” Repeated “not now, later”’s resulted in her screaming the entire time and finally throwing the shoes at me. For a 2yr old with speech delays, she’s pretty quick in making her desires known. I’m failing to appreciate the miracle that she knows the necessary steps in getting to outdoor play. I just want to keep the rice from burning like it did last week.
A fellow foster parent and Christian once asked if I thought our faith made fostering easier. “Harder,” was my answer. There are so many spiritual factors and forces at war against the spirit of Christ in us. As a believer walking in a degree of healing and freedom, there are days I find it impossible. I’m not going to be dragged under by the spirit of worry Sabrina wants to saddle me with. I won’t play her game of “what if”. It builds a bond between us fuelled by a spirit of fear. “You will be fine.” “That’s not something you have to worry about.” At first we talked it all through, thinking it would elevate her fears. Instead they grew from one thing into another. We could spend all day dealing with imagined scenarios. Or we could get on with enjoying what’s good in this moment. I don’t want to live in fear or anger. Unfortunately I feel myself, at times, being drawn into that realm. Which is why, Megan, I’m concerned this may not go according to plan. Having done so well with Sabrina, the expectation is I can turn you around as well. God, this is where You need to move in. There isn’t anything in me to give. Yet You wanted me to take this on. So, here we go. Here we go.