Unfit

So, we’ve been fostering for about three years. And in that three years’ time, we’ve been assigned the crème de la crème of case managers. I wish she could say the same for us…or for me. But she has informed me…laughingly, “Jan, you are not a good foster mom. You are a great mom. But you treat these foster babies like they are yours. And they are not. You must remember, they are not yours.” Yep. It is true. I struggle greatly with the disparity in my parenting style for my “own children” versus my parenting style for my precious fosters. Risk management? What’s that? I figure, as long as the consequence is not fatal…or near fatal…let ’em figure stuff out for themselves. Right? Let ’em play, and tumble and climb and explore. Let ’em be bold and courageous in the face of the play scape or the slide or the tree. Yeah. No bueno for my Peas. No. Bueno.

And in my quiet moments, I realize, I am NOT a good foster mom. There are aspects of this gig that I forget time and time again. But I am learning. Slowly. I am learning. The babies belong to another woman. And my haphazard approach to risk management probably leaves her frustrated…and worried. And I am starting to realize, my inattention to detail is…unkind. Sigh.

Though it will feel crazy unnatural, I am going to try to parent in a way that isagainst every instinct I have. Now, I won’t stop being me…and I’ll make mistakes…and the fact that I am currently parenting a dare-devil of a toddler comes into play. Up til now, my focus in parenting has been for the love of the babies in my charge. My passion for their good. I am going to try to parent in a way that is loving to my charges’ mama. A consideration for her vulverable position of leaving the care of her babies to another.

Here’s to becoming a more loving foster mom…a fit foster mom.

D is for…oh…Dang!

We do a weekly memory verse from the Bible. Recently I got some ABC Bible verse cards. They are très cute! AND ABC’s? Come on…perfection for this current age.

Well, this morning I pulled out D. For my own amusement, I try to guess the verse and then do a grand reveal. I had settled comfortably on “Delight yourself in the Lord,” when BOOM! I was hit with “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” (Philippians 2:14.) And if you can’t tell by my complaining about drawing this winner, I’ll say it clearly. I speak fluent complaint. No? Not clear? I complain. A lot. It is a sensitive area of weakness for me. I despise my complaining…and yet I persist. I have a lot to say about this struggle…about embracing myself as is…as Jesus does. Accepting my limitation…without condemning myself…while hoping for better. But that is another post.

And so, I’m a bit panicked. This will be an interesting week, and I hope to write through this struggle…speaking the gospel to both my children and to myself. The gospel here…I am a broken woman and God has asked me to raise children…and teach them stuff about behaving as decent human beings. I am a broken woman…both beautiful and terrible…full of love and compassion…and venom and judgement. I get some things right and some things wrong. And God asks me to teach…to teach my kids “to do everything without complaining or arguing” though I am the chief complainer. The gospel? I am loved. And I cannot keep this command. But I am loved. And I will teach them. And my girls will not be able to keep this command. And they will be loved. 

Now, Jesus…help me keep a straight face as I introduce my girls to this verse. Open up the discussion of my inability to do this non-complaint thing…and my comfort and hope. You are making me new. You are making my heart new. You forgive my failures, and though You call me to a standard I cannot keep, You adore me. Thanks, buddy.

 

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Pre-Kinder-Itis

Hello. My name is Jan. My daughter is about to enter kindergarten. The very fact that it is JANUARY and she will not begin until the fall probably tells you a little something about me. Or that fact that I went to my first home-school convention when she was eight MONTHS old. That might give you a hint. Or the fact that I’ve sat down with my buddy who is the principal of a local elementary school to get the lowdown on public education. And then there’s the private school that I’ve visited. Twice. That does a half a day kinder with TONS of outdoor play and exploration…and, by they way, is my dream school. And costs a million dollars. Oh, and I definitely plan on walking up the block to the elementary school at the end of our street to take a tour and sit in on a class.

What is wrong with me? You guys. This is not rocket science. I am CLEARLY the product of privilege. And perhaps emotional instability. And a touch of over-think-it-itis. Whatever the case, I am laughing at how absurd I am making this whole…venturing into education thing.

Phil? Cool as a cucumber. Of course. Cause at the end of the day, she will be fine. And she will do fine. And there will be mistakes and tears and injustice…whether I school her at home, up the street, or at my dreamy-dream school.

Though I know I am…uh…analyzing this thing to death…I can’t seem to stop myself. Thank God for Phil. Right? Oh, and for all those amazing options. Let’s not forget that. How fortunate?

But seriously, this little stint into motherhood…the FIRST one entering school…this thing has to have some sort of name. Right?

Oh. And the really funny part of my situation? After the first year, we will be an RV family. So we will be homeschooling. Hey. Maybe we’ll just skip kinder!

Chick Pea — TWO!

I am surprised to discover very few notes on Chick Pea this past month. So many of her changes have been…soft…unspoken. I’ve noted a vulnerability that is sweet…yet frightening. This impenetrable child has trusted her heart to us…she seeks gentle hugs in the quiet of day…she nuzzles my neck…seeking and finding comfort. I am undone.

At two years of age, Chick Pea:

  • names and narrates. This is one of my favorite stages. As she gets dressed, she names body parts…and explains what is happening, “Shirt on. Shoes on.”
  • is speaking so much. Her language has just exploded…in the best of ways.
  • signs like a pro. Miss Smarty Pants learns signs faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • rubs soft foods, like yogurt and sour cream, all over herself. (This is likely a carry-over from her nighttime ritual. She has eczema, so we slather on the lotion each night. )Sneaky girl almost always waits until my back is turned or I’m out of the room. You’d think I’d learn.
  • lets me sing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her and cradle her in my arms. (It occurred to me recently that she is the only one I have not sing lullabies to as a wee babe…and I went about remedying that!) The first time I held her like a baby and she relaxed into my arms, my heart ached. It ached for her…time I did not have with her…time her mother does not have now. I ached for all of the brokenness in her wee life.
  • tags along and imitates Denver in the sweetest of ways.
  • exhibits fewer strong-willed defiances…girl gets along. She gets along so well.
  • dotes on Sweet Pea…still. Such a sweet sister.
  • enjoyed a birthday party with her mom, her aunt, and her grandma. (We were invited to attend. Touching!)

Denver — THREE!

Glory be, she is three! What a girl. Denver is a river…deep, wild, at once peaceful and still, then full of fury…ever changing…ever winding…ever inviting. She’s the one who joins me in my quiet moments…just sitting…longing to connect in our unspoken language. And yet, she’s the loudest of my girls. This quiet soul…so LOUD. Not a single moment with this one is taken for granted. All that she is…every glance, giggle, cry, and yes…scream…each one is a gift…because she was born to another. She was carried and nursed and swaddled by another. And yet. And yet. The same loving arms that welcomed Denver to the world, courageously delivered her to us. Denver is our daughter. Our beloved daughter. Our darling girl.

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At three years of age, Denver:

  • loves to have her back tickled as she drifts off to sleep.
  • wears panties. All day long! (Still uses a pull up for night time.)
  • embraced her first RV trip. While the others wanted to stay in the RV upon hitting our campsite, Denver wanted O-U-T. She wanted to explore nature…girl after my own heart. She discovered the stream behind our campsite.
  • wants to feed me at each meal. With each offering she puts in my face, she eagerly says, “It doesn’t have wheat, Mom.” Of course, it typically does. Still. Cute.
  • calls raspberries daddy fingers, because of THIS. She puts a raspberry on each finger and sings the finger family song. She even uses that funky accent.
  • shows that she is THREE with her pointer, middle, and pinkie fingers. Don’t know why she does it. I hope and pray she never “corrects” it!
  • insisted on party hats for her birthday party. Insisted. And we happily complied.
  • calls dark feathers “dog feathers.” That’s my girl.
  • shouts, “Get me off this thing!” dramatically. No, she has never seen the Jetsons. It’s just our Denver.
  • lights up at the words Paw Patrol. Thus, a Paw Patrol birthday party with Paw Patrol party hats, plates, toys. Girl cannot get enough Paw Patrol. Her favorite is Chase…followed quickly by Skye. She likes me to sing the Paw Patrol song as a lullaby…which is quite the shift from her beloved ABC lullaby.
  • reminds me daily that we never know what surprises are just around the bend.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we proudly present…DENVER, the three-year-old!

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Eden — Four and Nine

Eden is such an enchanting girl. The girls wears her heart proudly on her sleeve. Good thing her heart is so lovely. Well, except for when it’s not. Even then, I adore that she is authentic in all that she is…hides nothing. She’s a breath of fresh air in a weary world.image

At four years and nine months, Eden:

  • is not satisfied with a simple, “no” reply. Eden’s version = “No, ho, ho!!!”
  • has named the phenomenon in which one sneezes and toots at the same time. It is an achoo toot. Quite appropriate, I think.
  • has mastered the remote. And life will never be the same.
  • does her own laundry. Or more accurately, can do her own laundry. Joyfully. Because she’s only four. (Phil is da man behind any chore stuff…teaches the girls to do laundry, to sort laundry, and to put away laundry. THANK GOD for this man.)
  • has discovered the delights of the chicken leg. And she’s terribly sad that only two legs come with a bird. AND, she’s discovering where chicken legs come from…which, yes, gives me pause. It freaks her out a bit that chicken legs are…CHICKEN LEGS. We may have a future vegetarian on our hands. We’ll see.
  • enjoys pork chops, but believes them to be chicken. She even asked, “Is pork chop a way to say chicken in French?” Hmmmm. Not so much.
  • looks for the recycling symbol on all of our food containers. Thanks, Rocky from Paw Patrol! We love you, buddy.
  • has embraced the joy of our new compost bin. Fun science stuff!
  • loves to play “house” with Denver. There are exactly two roles in house = the mother and “the dear.” I love that the kid is “the dear.”
  • greeted me one day with, “Mom, you’re just the woman that I wanted to see.”
  • thinks it is pretty hilarious to say “vulva hiney, vulva hiney, vulva hiney.” Yep, that’s a good one, kiddo.
  • unleashes her fury upon me from time to time. This one will need guidance in taking a moment or two to calm down before speaking…as does her mother! And just like me, she almost immediately regrets the words that flow forth. Case in point:
    • Eden: “When I am older, I am leaving and I will NOT be in your family ANY MORE!”
    • Me: “Oh! I’ll miss you. But I understand.”
    • Eden: “Well, I’ll stay close…in the neighborhood. And I’ll visit. BUT when you are mean, I will leave to be with my roommate.”
    • Me: “Sounds like a good plan.”
    • Eden: “But I’ll miss you when I’m gone.”
  • blesses me beyond measure.

Denver — Two and Eleven

Denver, Denver…how do I love thee? This bundle of energy delights and frustrates. But have you seen this kid? How can I stay mad at her? Little stinker winker. This is it…the last month of two. I cannot fathom…how did she get so big? So fast? She still leaves me breathless with gratitude…this precious one…given in surrender to me…to us. We love her so.

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At two years and eleven months, Denver:

  • is LOUD. She prefers screaming over using her words. And really, with three sisters running about, she might be on to something. And boy, does this girl have a set of lungs on her.
  • has discovered the joys of hiding under the table. Not only is she hidden from view, but once discovered, her gently aging parents struggle with the acrobatics required to pull her out. Little stinker.
  • uses the phrase, “You little stinker winker” a lot. Hmmm, wonder where she picked that one up?
    • loves the “surprise egg” phenomenon popular on YouTube. Baby Big Mouth. Oh yeah, some of you moms know what I’m talking about. I thought she was weird…the only one…but oh no. At a recent MOPS event, I discovered this is a thing. A thing! Anyhoo, the girl loves the surprise egg thingy. Yea Baby Big Mouth.
  • has mad memory verse skills. Mad.
  • nightly asks Phil, “How’s work?” It’s the cutest!
  • asked Chick Pea one night, “How’s work?” Cutie girl.
  • pronounces the word crazy CUH-RAAAZY!
  • smooshes her words together…”I’m verHUNNNGRY.” Don’t know where the girl gets her quirky pronunciations.
  • says “can’t share” for “won’t share.” So when she tells me, “Eden can’t share,” I can’t help but answer, “Oh yes she CAN!”
  • calls yummy food “tasty.” It is the most adorable thing to hear her say, “Oh, Mom! This is very tasty.”
  • calls her apron her cooking dress.
  • sometimes leaves me scratching my head. Okay, often leaves me scratching my head. Here is a little example of a conversation we had:
    • Denver: “I want hummus.”
    • Me: “OK, you can have hummus at lunch.”
    • Denver: “NO! I don’t like hummus.”
  • loves, loves, loves Paw Patrol. In fact, we are having a Paw Patrol birthday party very soon!
  • loves pockets in her clothes. Loves them.
  • sweetly sits beside Chick Pea early in the morning. I NEVER thought this would happen…mainly because Chick Pea is a bit of a pincher…and by a bit, I mean “Watch Out!” Anyhoo, they sweetly sit together on the couch in the morning drinking milk. Swoon.
  • plays with Chick Pea more. Again…shocker as these two butt heads like crazy. Yet more and more, they enjoy each other and giggle, giggle, giggle.
  • screams. Did I mention that? Screams. The girl screams. SCREAMS!
  • makes her family complete.