Encouragement, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference MondaysJul. 10, 2017

Make a Difference Monday | True Confessions of a Foster Mama

I’m drinking my daily cup of coffee…finally. Ahhhhh, the therapeutic effects of a warm cup of joe resting in my palm. Feels so good. I had to reheat it in the microwave, gasp, because now its almost bedtime. I would have sipped it down this morning but my body refused to move to the rhythm of my alarm dinging and vibrating my comfy bed.

I was up every 2-3 hours holding another mama’s baby. My husband and I are supposed to work in shifts through the darkness of the night. But since I heard the cries as he snored puffed away, I took his shift. Puffing is a whole thing, by the way. Its like snoring, but not. Drives me insane. This will not be a consistent service to my spouse. I’ve already assured him of that.

Life as a mom demands that you push through physical exhaustion, so I do.

But life as a foster mom ads an extra layer of fatigue. The emotional ride is grueling. It’s unpredictable. It’s often lonely and misunderstood. Most misunderstandings come in the form of flattery. People always act like we are doing such a good work. They verbalize how noble this cause is and seem to think that we are somehow superior to others in our ability to cope or feel or love.

Some days I do feel like a champion—like I’m making a difference.

On others, like today, I’m worn out. Emotions can catch me off guard on this journey and there’s often little time to process it all. Today I just want to roll my eyes and wipe my hands clean of every else’s burdens. They’re heavy and I’m already carrying plenty, thank you.

This week, I spent close to two hours at the local WIC office. Please add this to your bucket list–it won’t disappoint. The conversation about foster care started with one of the employees as it normally does every time I have to present a placement letter and photo ID. The barrage of normal questions came, like “isn’t this hard” and “how do you do it?” and I rattled off my rehearsed answers. Then a light bulb illuminated above her head as she spoke a comparison I’ve never been confronted with before…with wide eyes, she said, “I see, its like a doctor/patient type of relationship, you just have to put up some walls so you don’t get too close”.

WHAT?! no. It’s actually not like that. Not at all.

It’s more like a mother/child relationship. The one where you become consumed by another human being and so intricately woven into their lives that its hard to see where they end and you begin.

The joys are real and so is the frustration and exhaustion.

Today I feel so overworked and underpaid.

Today I want to give up on a birth mom. Today I want to crawl back to the comfort of my biological family. Today I want to tell a case worker she’s crazy for asking me to drive three hours to do a visit. I want five hours of my life back from yesterday since I used it wrestling a tired toddler as someone else’s newborn baby laid on a table getting an EKG and echo to look at the possible effects of substance abuse on his little heart.

Today I’m over it.

The financial stipend feels like spit in the wind. The gratitude from other workers in the field is drowned out by the rights and demands of parents and family who have already given up on this baby in my arms, but somehow now want to fight for him.

I find myself in an emotional funk. A place that I just want to sit in for a while. I don’t need to hear encouraging words or motivational talks. I’ve been here before. And I’ll be here again. All in a day’s work. The highs are high and the lows are, well, they suck.

I mistakenly think I’ve got this thing wrapped. I naively believe I’ve got this. That somehow the calls with mid-course changes in case plans and visitations and goals won’t rattle me. But, I’m wrong about that.

The baby I don’t want to adopt, somehow sneaks his way into the depths of my heart in only a few days. I want to fight for his mom but I’m tired and her history doesn’t lend much hope.

Tomorrow is new, thank God. But for now, for these moments, I sit in silence—too tired to care, too drained to cry, too apathetic for tonight to convince anyone this work is rewarding.

If you’re out there, doing a hard work, I feel your pain. If you are the mama of someone else’s child, its ok to be annoyed, fired up, and fightless. You can’t live there forever, but its okay for now–for today.

Grab a cup of coffee, or a Coke and sit in silence (if you can find some) and let the situations you’ve faced today sink in. Let the world settle around you as you regain your strength and find the passion to start again tomorrow.

Because you will—you will start again. And again. And again. No case is ever the same but we can carry each other when the days are too tough. I see you, staring blankly as your mind drifts…know you are not alone. You aren’t wrong and you aren’t a savior. You are human. You’re a mama. A mama to a baby you didn’t birth. So love him well, hold him tight and get some sleep.

Tomorrow is coming and and when it does, someone will need you.

…from one weary, tired, and undone mama, thank you.

Kristy Sutton

Kristy and Zach are biological parents to 4 beautiful kiddos under the age of 9. They have called 12 other babies their own since starting their journey as a foster family in the summer of 2012. They say yes to the hard and crazy as they follow Jesus on this journey of surrender and obedience. Kristy loves coffee, good conversation, comfy clothes and Anne of Green Gables. She is assertive and loves change as she learns to thrive in the chaos. Follow Kristy on her personal blog, This Hard Calling.

Comments (3) Leave a Comment

  • Sarah Ayres says:
    July 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I am a foster mom to a sibling group of 4, 11 -15 years old. Our first placement and it has been 20 months. Thank you for sharing the raw truth of foster care. Unless someone has lived it, it’s hard to truly understand.

  • I can relate totally with your views on Fostering Careing….love your words

  • Grace Jones says:
    July 31, 2017 at 10:43 am

    This post are the words I can’t form and the emotions I feel EVERY DAY. Thank you for putting the words out there.

    From one momma with cold coffee to another!

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