Life with four children under the age of 6 is challenging. (For more info on how that happened see From 2 to 4.) Adding to my own obligations, I’m using cloth diapers and continually baking since Sloane* can’t have wheat. Store bought items are pricey and often unimpressive. I’ve also decided to take up sewing again. The foster children’s clothing allowance is meager. I like all the kids in my care to look their best. At a clothing exchange in August I picked up ample girl’s clothing without any idea I’d soon have boys. Recently more girls’ clothing came my way from lady at church. It seems a little girl is in the future. But for now I’m making cute plaid jumpers in blue and green. I’m exhausted.
A few days into this adventure, baby Tyson* stopped sleeping through the night. His cry – resembling a furious roar – began just as I climbed into bed. Fearing he’d wake his brother, Deshawn* (the two share a room), I hurried to get him. 4hrs later we were still up. Tyson would slip into sleep while I held him. Whenever I tried lowering him into the crib, he’d start and let out an ear piercing howl. Back we’d go to my room and try it all again. Finally I got him to settle in the crib. There are two things I need to function – three to do well. 1. A good night’s sleep. 2. A shower first thing in the morning. 3. A creative outlet. Tyson robbed me of all three. After a fitful night, he’d be up for good by 5am. And there was no convincing him to keep quiet while I showered. Exhausted all day he’d want to be held continually. Completely depleted myself, I wasn’t doing anything beyond the bare minimal to keep us going – which included 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, at least 2 loads of laundry a day (one of diapers, the other clothing because it’s a given that at least one child will soil themselves any given day), dishes, sweeping/moping the floor, coaxing children to tidy up, getting 2 kids to school 5 days a week, getting the foster children ready for visits 2 days a week, buying groceries, and trying to stretch my clothing allowance to get everything the boys need.
In the midst of my exhaustion, I’ve been dealing with increasing hostility between the three older children – one 5yr old and two 4yr olds. Deshawn is quick to tell my girls, “I’m telling my mom on you,” when they do anything at all he dislikes. For instance if they won’t give him something they’re using. While using their toys, he says, “I’m taking this home with me when I go.” This results in an explosion from Sloane* and Elise*. “You can’t do that! It’s not yours!” There are limits to their generosity especially since they’re both battling their own sense of loss. Being adopted does that to kids. Being a foster kid is hard. I feel for Deshawn. There’s so much turmoil and confusion for him. While struggling to complete necessary daily tasks, I’ve been dealing with continual arguments.
A dear friend – and former foster parent – stopped by the other night with her husband and their son. During our brief visit, I lamented Tyson not sleeping. While leaving, she put her hands on his head. The prayer was simple, “Peace. We pray peace for you.” Since then there’s not been a sleepless night!
Yesterday I was with another friend and mentioned the conflict with the three kids. She prayed peace into my home. When my herd assembled after school, there was no hostility. We made it through the evening with very few incidents. All three were much more subdued. At dinner Deshawn said, “This is a good house!” (Instead of using the word family I tend to say things like, “At this house we…..”) And this morning he commented, “Your girls are really beautiful.” These compliments weren’t rolling off his tongue previously.
Prayer. It really does change things. I’m ashamed to admit it isn’t always my first response. Before I started fostering I’d spend hours in prayer – often for the children the Lord would one day bless me with. Now that I have them, everyday care seems to overshadow that communion. I used to despair at my lack of prayer. Then the Lord assured me, He understands. I’m a single mom. I don’t have hours to spend in worship or prayer. For now taking care of these children is my act of worship. The Lord faithfully causes others to pray for me. In addition to the two friends already mentioned, often someone from the church – a friend or acquaintance – will say, “You and your kids have really been on my heart this week. I’ve been praying for you.” At times the Lord has woken people in the night to intercede for my kids. I’ve not always been able to track the results of those prayers, like I can with the two recent declarations of peace, but there’s so much more than what I can see. To everyone one of you who pray when the Lord prompts – thank you. Your prayers make my worship possible.