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.

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!)

Sweet Pea — Eight Months

The girl is on fire! She wants to get up and go, go, go with her older sisters. On top of that, I highly suspect she…much like her beloved Eden…is an extrovert. Though my snuggly-wuggly wee babe has been replaced with this go-getter, Sweet Pea has retained her sweet, gentle, contented yumminess. Everything she does feeds my soul with such peace and joy.

At eight months, Sweet Pea:

  • sits up. All on her own. Just like she’s been doing it her whole life. Oy.
  • wants to play ALL day. She down to only two good naps a day. And so it begins…or rather, ends.
  • holds her own bottle.
  • experienced her first camping trip. She happily played out in the “woods,” mouthing sticks, rocks…any bit of nature she could grasp in those beautifully chubby hands.
  • eats crackers. Sniff, sniff. Crackers. There’s no turning back now.
  • takes a bath in the bathtub now. Oh, this girl! Soooo fast! She’s growing up so fast!!
  • says “dah-dah-dah,” which is great and all. And to be fair, it was her first utterance. But hearing “muh-muh-muh-muh” makes me giddy. Giddy.
  • is everywhere! She is officially crawling. And nothing is beyond her. Sigh.
  • can drink from a sippy cup.
  • lights up the room…not only with her smile, but with her sweet spirit.

Chick Pea — Twenty-Three Months!

Just one month shy of two, yet with the wit and wisdom of one MUCH older. This girl never ceases to amaze me with her fearless ambitions. I have rarely seen anyone move forward toward a goal with such unwavering faith that it will be accomplished. Whew. She keeps me on my toes!

At twenty-three months, Chick Pea:

  • loves to wipe up messes. This comes in handy around here. She’ll look at me, with a rag in hand, “Clean?” Oh yes, baby girl, you knock yourself out.
  • has caught the Paw Patrol frenzy that exists within our wall. Though it sounds like “Bubbles,” the girl is saying “Paw Patrol.” No doubt.
  • brushes her hair…just like the big girls. (I adore how proud she is to be just like Eden and Denver.)
  • says “Good night” with absolute clarity.
  • can count. It goes something like this, “two, free, bap!”
  • says “thank you,” of her own accord. Sweetie girl.
  • loves our new dog, Lady. Perhaps because Lady will let Chick Pea love on her…or more accurately, because I let her love on Lady. Sadly, I often find myself limiting Chick’s affections on others…cause girl likes to smother the baby…and poke at her eyes…so I’m forever saying, “Gentle, Chick Pea. Don’t hurt the baby.” But Lady is gentle enough, yet sturdy enough to happily endure Chick’s affections. Lady is going to be sooooo good for our girl.
  • throws the ball at the dogs to play fetch. It’s awfully cute.
  • likes to wear panties…over her clothes.
  • calls animal crackers “baubbs.” Funny how some words are crystal clear and others are garbled.
  • can sign so many words…I’ve lost count. Smarty pants can remember just about any sign she’s ever seen…even if only once. I would put her sign vocabulary right around 200 words. BOOM.

Sweet Pea — Seven Months


This sweet, snugly, round baby is doing her best to become a toddler. Within one month, she has moved from reclining to rolling to scooting to bear crawling to tripod-ing! And she’s on the edge of sitting up all by her wee self!

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At seven months, Sweet Pea:

  • ate some apple breakfast bar because I was busy talking to someone…not paying attention…and fed Denver’s snack to the wee babe. Ooops! She did not choke…and seemed to rather enjoy it. Whew.
  • sleeps on her side now.
  • can control her pacifier. Ahhhh. This little trick makes napping/sleeping so much easier!
  • is eating so much…and by “eating,” I mean rice cereal. How did we get here?
  • tries to feed herself.
  • is all over the floor. She can roll, scoot…honestly, I don’t know how she does it…as she won’t crawl. Won’t. It’s probably because she does not have to crawl to get all over the floor!
  • can sit in her high chair. I pack the sides with blankets to keep her upright. But she’s in a high chair…sniff, sniff.
  • rolls, and roll, and rolls.
  • visited the Picciuti Crew. She approves.
  • scoots backwards…sorta.
  • when she sleeps on her tummy, she turns her head toward her pacifier…for easy access.
  • has mastered the tripod…two legs and one arm. She is trying so hard to walk! No crawling. Just walking.
  • does a bear crawl…with her eyes on the prize. Must. Walk. Like. Big. Girls.

Fostering — This Spectacular Journey

A few days ago, Face Book graced me with a blast from the past…a post I wrote on our paper pregnancy. It was written by a fostering rookie. It made me want to pat that innocent, starry-eyed writer on the head and say, “Well now, isn’t that sweet?” But it was this…this paragraph that took the cake:

….This time, we are linking our arms as a family to take care of a baby in need, a baby we may not get to keep forever.  We are okay with that. We are okay with the potential heartbreak…and this is why. For as long or as little as we get to love on our new baby, for one moment in time, the world will be right for that precious one. And we are honored to be the ones to bring a moment of light into a child’s life.

Ummm, “…the world would be right for that precious one”??? Uh, we’re not that great. We get a lot of things right. But this parenting thing is a crazy train, and at various points, it has brought out our worst. Our very worst. In light of this realization…our focus in fostering has shifted…unexpectedly…beautifully.

Once upon a time, Phil and I hoped to save children from abuse and neglect. And we hoped to do this by providing a safe, stable home. But the thing is, our safe, stable home suffers from time to time. Periods of instability. Periods of brokenness. We’ve realized that within our own brokenness, we are in no position to save anybody. But we can help. We can reach out to hurting, scared, broken mothers and promise to be gentle with their children. We can pray blessings over the lives of the families torn apart by poverty. We can speak words of encouragement to parents who are lost…who sought to escape despair…only to find more despair at the hands of their addictions. We can seek reconciliation…for hearts…for relationships…for lives. And yes…we can love and hold and breathe hope into babies…building secure attachments…or at least laying the groundwork for such.

Our once upon a time is wiser today. Today, we fight just as hard for the mamas as for the babies. Today, our hearts beat just as furiously for the mamas as for the babies. Today, our hope has grown from healing children to healing families…to crazy plot twists with glorious resolutions.

Through it all, we are ever grateful to be a part. Here’s to our good fortune…the opportunity to joyride on this spectacular journey.