So I finally sit down tonight after a month and a half of not posting. Since I last wrote we were blessed to welcome Bear's baby sister "Bee" into our home and hearts.
All three kids have birthdays in the next month and will be turning 1,2, and 3. Life is pretty crazy with three under three. We have lots of giggles. Every day someone learns something new. But we also have a lot of toddler drama. As well as foster care trauma. A and I are keeping our heads above water because of the amazing village and support we have. Honestly 99% of the time, I feel like it is suppose to be harder than this. And I absolutely love each of my kids.
But there is another a reason I have not sat down to write. We've had a lot of hard moments. And I want to share the hard moments, the whole reality of foster care, but I feel blocked by so many things. There is a pressure for any parent to make it seem like we have it together. And I think the intricacies of foster care exacerbate that. I've talked before about how anytime we receive a new placement I wear make up every day for about a week. I feel like I have to show people I can handle/deserve to have more kids. But there is another pressure I don't really talk about but to a select few. The pressure to shield my kids from judgement of those who very honestly do not have the training and scope to understand all the trauma behind their behaviors. We go through hours of training and continuing education to learn about where our kids are coming from. What they have been exposed to. How that may affect them. The cyclical effects of poverty, neglect, and abuse. After my big emotion (and totally understandable, normal parental melt-down) I then remember to look at my kids and their behavior through the scope of trauma. I strip away my own judgments and reset my reaction. But after doing so I feel so totally alone. Which is why the foster care community is so essential. Support groups and talking with other foster parents is so pivotal to not burn out and go crazy. But we are all dealing with these things, so that rant and deep talk don't always come soon enough. And I think that is where I have been the last few weeks.
I have been hiding our lives. Sharing the beautiful moments that deserve to be shared. And meticulously painting foster care and children from trauma in a way that would make people want to learn more before seeing the hard parts.
So please keep all of this in context when reading the second half of this blog.
I describe my kids to others the following way. Bee (1) is super content, sweet, and happy. Bug (2) is my responsible one who is independent but still loves cuddles when he wants (like a cat). and Bear (3) is four kids in one.
Anyone who meets Bear in person immediate falls for his charming smile and his caring heart. And then if they make it past 2 minutes they see trauma behaviors that look like a defiant child. He. Gets. In. To. Everything. He vibrates from adrenaline. He came to us not knowing how to play with toys. He just kind of swung them around while getting into things. He has full blown, sensory overload, panic attacks at least once a week that look like the most disrespectful and hateful child you have ever met. And if you see one, especially in public, with limited options for me to remove him from the stimuli it looks like I am an incapable mother who can't handle my child. I get it. I would probably think the same thing too.
So tonight I sit tired after a blow up. I feel defeated after putting him to bed early when he hurt his brother in his overwhelming emotions.
I'm working on it. I'm working on being confident in my parenting because I do know the context, and the trigger, and what he needs. I'm working on learning more about how to help him with those big emotions and those hard moments. I'm working on not worrying about what others think in the moment and giving him what he needs to succeed and calm himself down. (Hint, I often have to ignore him which allows him to continue the behavior until he can self regulate) Because that will make him a successful adult who can calm himself down. And I'm working on taking care of myself and refilling my cup so I have something to give him and my other two amazing kids.
So tonight I stress cleaned my room. I'm going to take a long hot shower. I am going to listen to some podcasts because that is something I am trying. I will meditate using my Calm app. And I will start again tomorrow.
And even in the hard moments, it is still beautiful.