Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How I cope.

I got a question in one of the comments on yesterday's post:
I know you are doing the right thing. I'm impressed with your emotional strength and resolve! Can you post about how you reconcile & cope with this? Doing your best to make the state's decision work out as well as possible is the best thing to do. But how do you deal with knowing their plan is probably not good? Thus is why we quit fostering. I just deal well when I know the state is making a bad decision. Ours was a bit more clearly a bad placement, but similar concept. Dangerous people will have access to the children. Thanks for AL you do! BLH in SC
I'm going to try and give you an honest answer to your question. My gut response is I'm not doing anything. I'm just going with the flow. But that's not true. So here's a list of some of the things that I'm doing to try and help me, and my family, through this transition.

First, I acknowledge how I feel and I allow myself to feel that way. If I'm upset, I allow myself to be upset. When I'm super crazy tired and want to sleep more than anything, I think about what it will be like to have a family without babies again. And I allow myself to look forward to that. My emotions are all over the place. But when I'm worried and I try to tell myself to not be upset, that's when the worries get even bigger and more overwhelming. And then there's the flip side. I'll be feeling OK about saying goodbye and then my brain will say, "No no need to be super upset." I'm spending a lot of emotional energy telling myself that whatever I'm feeling is OK.

Miss Star has been sleeping really, really poorly lately. So on top of the emotions, I'm super tired. I'm making a point of writing everything down - and I mean everything. I've got my full, monthly calendar with every appointment listed. I then take each day's appointments and responsibilities and write them down on the giant dry erase board that hangs in our dining area. Today's list reads:
8:30 - ST (speech therapy)
10:00-12:00 - visit
4:00 - pick up Bart
6:10 - karate
Normally I wouldn't need to remind myself of any of these things. But I don't trust myself to remember things when I'm feeling extra tired and emotional.

I menu plan. And I'm not "cooking" quite as much as usual. Typically I cook almost every meal from scratch. I menu plan and grocery shop for about a week at a time. But with the later visit schedule and all the extra doctor appointments we've been dealing with over the last month, cooking has taken a back seat in a way. I've allowed myself to purchase some packaged food. Last night was lasagna from the frozen aisle, garlic bread from the frozen aisle, and a bag of salad. It looked like a lovely meal but required no thinking on my part. Dinner was ready shortly after I picked the babies up from their visit at 5:00pm and I didn't have any prepping to do. Cooking for my family is a big part of my love language. I enjoy feeding everyone foods that they love. But it's been challenging for me to want to do this. So I'm giving myself some grace here.

I've also relaxed on what I'm feeding Russell. Because he might be leaving, it doesn't make sense to have a freezer full of super special meals specially prepared for him. I'll send along all our prepackaged baby food. But it's not my intention to send along homemade food that I use, in the event the babies leave to Russell's grandparents. So I'm not making special food for him every few days like I usually do. That means I've got more meals on my shelf that say Gerber and I'm not beating myself up about that.

I'm taking care of myself. I'm trying to sleep – or at least relax – in the evenings after most (if not all) the kids are in bed. I'm not sitting at my computer...unless I want to. I'm not dealing with the laundry. I'm allowing myself time to just chill. That's one of the reasons laundry is my nemesis. Our laundry "room" is a closet in the hallway off the kitchen. That hallway is almost always filled with baskets of clean and dirty laundry. I really feel like I should be taking care of this mess. It's worse than usual. But I'm allowing myself grace. Everyone has clean clothes. But if they aren't folded and put away, no one will suffer.

I am cleaning the kitchen better. A messy kitchen is so hard to live with. I do life better if there aren't dishes everywhere. So I'm really trying to stay on top of that. I'm also riding my kids' butts about picking up after themselves. I function better when the clutter in my house is under control. I'm doing a better job of making the cherubs pick up after themselves.

I'm eating even when I don't want to. When I grocery shop, I make sure to buy foods that I know *I* like. That way, when I don't want to eat, but I know I need to, there are foods I like in the house. I'm also allowing myself some treats that make me feel better. Right or wrong, a Starbucks coffee takes the edge off at 2:15pm after I drop the babies off at their visit. And if for some reason I didn't eat lunch, or I know dinner is going to be a mess due to everyone's varied schedule, I'll take some time for myself at my favorite taco restaurant after I drop the babies off at a visit.

I don't exercise regularly. I know I should. I know it would help. But I do purposefully play - especially with the babies. When it's time to clean up from dinner, I put on my favorite music really loud and I dance. I scoop up a baby and I dance with them. I get my heart rate up and it gives me what I need to clean up my kitchen and get the chores done.

I try to take command of my thoughts. When the worries come, and oh...they come, I try to simply just stop. I cannot worry about whether or not future care givers are going to meet all the needs of the babies. I don't have control over anything that happens when the babies leave my home. So it doesn't make sense to even think about it. It's not easy. It takes a lot of self-discipline. But I try. I've been given these children for a season. I try to stay focused on that season alone. I try to do the very best with the time that I am given with them. It's all I can do.

I pray. When the worries come, I try to pray. When I get fixated on a situation, I pray. The meeting tomorrow has me all tense. My brain wants to come up with every possible conversation that we should have. My brain wants to rehearse every topic and every answer. But that's ridiculous. So, I tell myself to stop. I know the swirling thoughts aren't from God. So I stop and I pray. I pray for God to give me the words I need tomorrow. I pray that the lawyer and the grandparents get what they need out of the meeting. And then I let go. If the swirling thoughts continue, I speak out loud to the devil and tell him to go away. I then pray for the Holy Spirit to come fill me with His presence.


I think that just about sums up what I'm doing. I'm dealing with a lot of huge emotions. It's hard to love the children as fiercely as I do and yet start to let go in my heart at the same time. Anger comes more frequently and my patience is tested regularly. I find myself frustrated with normal baby behaviors that typically don't phase me. I think that's the letting go part. It manifests itself in ugly emotions sometimes. So when that happens, I try to love even harder. It's not easy. But it's what I try to do. I really do try to focus on this season and not the future or the past.

And that's how I'm getting through all of this.

If they go, I'll be fine. I will hurt. But I will be fine. And if they stay, I'll just love on them longer. We'll see what happens next Tuesday.


Megan said...

As a foster mama going through something similar right now, I needed this post. It helps me realize it's completely normal for us to have these questions and to doubt the outcomes and to WONDER what's around the corner. I love the fact that you said you stop yourself when you go down that road of doubt and worry. I'm trying to survive a lake of it these days , myself. Keep on going mama, and we will will too!!

Anonymous said...

Tremendous support. You have done this before and in what you are doing now you demonstrate and share to the rest of us what you have learned and ways of grace.
After Tuesday, no matter what happens in court, you and your family will continue manifesting how grace under pressure happens and you will all continue to support children in need.
Much caring for ll of you.
CA grandmother

Annie said...

You are so amazing. Thanks for sharing all this. There's so much that applies to the craziness of getting used to a new placement too. Wishing you the very best tomorrow.