Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mom on the Run

I ran away from home the other day.  I did it in flip flops, with no money and on a 4 wheeler.  I know that’s not really something that 29 year old moms are supposed to do but before you recommend me for commitment, let me explain.

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks.  Things have been crazy hectic.  My neighbor killed my dog.  Then, my dad got hurt really bad.  And, on top of everything Little Miss has been extremely difficult and Hubby has been working nights so it’s been me against the masses.  So, all of that led up to Monday and a very frazzled mommy.  Little Miss woke up in a bad mood and she doesn’t believe in being miserable alone.  She screamed constantly.  She broke things.  She hurt her brothers.  She hurt herself.  She was rough. 

                That evening I tried to get the kids together to take Captain to karate class but Little Miss dislikes karate since it’s the one time each week that the world revolves around someone other than her.  That’s a big deal to me.  I am in a constant state of guilt and worry that Captain is suffering because of our choice to foster.  I really think he has benefited from it overall but he doesn’t get near the amount of attention as he did as an only child.  It’s important to me that he feels like a little star at something. Little Miss has all of this figured out so any time we go to karate she has meltdown either on the way or as soon as we get inside.  This means that I have to be one of THOSE moms that sit in the car waiting for their kid to come out of class instead of the cheerleader that I desperately want to be.   I feel like I’m letting him down when I miss out on watching him fall down three times while they are running laps and his uncoordinated attempts at round houses. 

                Back to Monday.  I was insisting that we really were going to karate and getting Captain dressed and finding shoes for the baby when Little Miss got mad and let our new dog out the front door.  So, I’m running around outside frantically trying to catch the dog before the neighbor shoots her too but apparently in corgi-world it is hysterical to run right up to your owner and then bolt just before she can reach you.  She kept running in the road so I was going that direction when I looked back and saw the baby walking barefoot through the yard.  I ran back for him and the dog chose this moment to disappear.  So, then I loaded up the kids and we drove up and down the road looking for the dog, who you wouldn’t think would be that hard to spot in a hot pink dress.  After several minutes I went to Hubby’s mom’s house up the road and woke him up to make him help (he sleeps there when he’s on nights cause our house is so loud during the day that a deaf man couldn’t get any rest).   We drove and drove till we finally caught Princess Minnie Mouse Firedog and brought her to safety.  At this point, karate was over and we had missed it. 

                Hubby knew that my nerves were frayed to when we went back to his mom’s to get the 4 wheeler he had driven over there, we agreed that I would drive it back while he followed in the car with the kids.  That was the plan.  I intended to follow that plan, I really did.  But then I got to our house and I just couldn’t make myself turn into the driveway.  Instead I just pushed the throttle in and kept right on going.  I had this moment of exhilarating freedom.  It was awesome.  And then it back fired, the 4 wheeler I mean.  And then it backfired again.  Within just half of a mile, I was stuck on the side of the road with an ATV completely out of gas.  Let me tell you that it was awkward calling my husband to explain that I had attempted to run away from home but ran out of gas and now needed to be rescued.  Luckily, he’s a good guy so he came right on down.  Unluckily, we had no gas at the house.    But we stood in a driveway with the dead 4 wheeler while the kids sat in the car and talked for a few uninterrupted minutes which was actually pretty nice.  We were just about to start pushing it to a safer spot when one of my neighbors drove by.  She’s another oilfield wife so she understands having the occasional break down.  She didn’t judge at all.  She just got me some gas from her house and invited me to bring the kids over for pizza next time hubby is on nights for a hitch.  When we finally made it home, Hubby thought it would be a good idea to let me ride while he took the kids for burgers.  I raced around our pasture till my thumb hurt and the world made more sense.  Then I sent an email to our foster adopt specialist and reminded her that we had to get respite this weekend.   

                Fostering isn’t easy.  It is rewarding and I usually think it’s worth it but it is not easy.  Foster parents need help and we need breaks.  When we don’t get that, we sometimes throw 2 year old style temper tantrums.  I’ve seen a lot of debate recently on whether it’s ok to send foster kids on respite.  Some people think it just isn’t fair to these kids.  I’ll write more on that some other time but let me just say that I think my kids will benefit more from me spending the weekend with hubby and some really good friends than they would from me tolerating them without any rest.  If nothing else, it has to be better to plan a short getaway than to randomly have a mini nervous breakdown and run away from home in flip flops, with no money and on a 4 wheeler with no gas.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Paid to Love

I write a lot of blogs in my head.  I have addressed all sorts of issues, berated many frustrating individuals and solved most of the world’s problems through my blogs over the last few months.  Unfortunately, by the time the kids are in bed and the laundry is going and my homework is done and Facebook is checked, it seems like my fingers are just too tired to tap the keyboard.  So, most of my rants haven’t made it to the here.  Come to think of it, that may be a good thing.  Anyway, here’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now and actually managed to get typed.  I would like to say that there is more on the way but I hate to get you all excited and then leave you hanging for another 3 months.  So, without further ado, here is my humble opinion on a common foster care myth.

When I was a kid, I spent hundreds of hours watching The 3 Stooges with my dad and brothers.  So, I was excited about the movie and went to see it with them, Hubby and Captain (our bio 6 year old son) a few weeks ago.    The movie was full of cheesy, slapstick comedy but I think the funniest thing was watching Captain doubled over, laughing in his seat at Larry and Curly getting poked in the eyes.  Anyway, I’m not here to do movie reviews, there is a point.  I promise.  The movie is set in a children’s home and has a lot of negative comments about foster care and adoption.   I’m not the type to crusade against every movie that gets their facts wrong but there’s one comment that just stuck with me.  A little girl was told that she would be going from the group home to a foster family and yelled the she refused to go to a home where they were paid to love her.

Here’s the thing, foster parents DO NOT get paid to love our kids.  We get paid to feed them and clothe them and be a stable force in their unstable lives.  And, when I say we get paid I don’t mean that we make money.  In some states, foster parents get as little as $300 a month to care for our charges.  (Luckily Texas is higher because I spend more than that on gas in a month going to visits.)  We’re asked to do a lot for those few dollars but we are never asked to love these children and really, if we were smart, we wouldn’t.  Opening up your heart and loving one of these kids means that it just might get ripped out when someone who doesn’t seem to care shows up for two visits and an overworked caseworker decides they can have our baby.   Loving one of these children means taking off your rose colored glasses and getting down on their level and seeing the world in a way that will change your forever.   It means holding them while they hit, kick and bite you because you know that they need to know you aren’t going to leave when they implode. 

It is not easy or comfortable or required that we love our foster kids.  But, a lot of us tend to think that these kids deserve someone who is willing to cry with them and for them.  I believe with all my heart that my babies should have at least one person in their life that would miss them if they left.  In the ideal world, that would have been their parents and they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.  That world doesn’t exist for these guys though so foster parents are the next best thing.  It’s not that we have this amazing superpower to unconditionally love every child that comes through our doors.  Some are easier than others and some don’t stay long enough for us to really develop any true bond with.  In spite of that, regular people from all over America get up every day and open our hearts to children who desperately need a mommy or daddy’s love.  That isn’t because that is what we are paid to do.  It is because that's what we are called do.  There’s a big difference there.