I’ve Been Here Before

I’ve been here before. This space between loss and healing. And for all the glories I sing of grief…its beauty…its worth…its refining gifts…I HATE this part. This space of waiting. I sit, avoiding the pain that will restore, refresh, recreate.

I’ve been here before. Somewhere along the way…after months of following God’s call…things get hard and I take my eyes off of Him…all the while, doing “His” work…but on my terms. I hit survival mode…digging in and pushing. Hard. Gumption. Determination. Unflinching…because I’ve stopped feeling. I just want to finish my assignment, not realizing that the finish line is not God’s goal nor plan for me. The plan is the struggle…feeling…failing…weakness and all the beauty therein.

I’ve been here before. Rants before God, who I blame for all my misery…because it is easier to be mad than vulnerable.

  • “God, YOUR way sucks.”
  • “God, I refuse, refuse, REFUSE to let this stand.”
  • “God? What gives? My plans are good. I mean REALLY good. And yours? They…are lacking.”
  • “Okay, God. I’m not interested in your next assignment. Not. Cause this hurts. And if I dig in, grieve, and let you heal me, you are going to give me another ridiculous assignment.”
  • Putting my hands over my ears, “I’m not listening, God. I’m not listening.”

I’ve been here before…having grieved the person…but not the dreams. To look full into the face of my hope for my life…and say goodbye. 

I’ve been here before. Ready to break. Ready to feel. Just holding out a little bit longer…before I surrender.

I’ve been here before. 

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Between

So. I’m in that unbearable state of between. I’m 46. And for the last 6 years, I have been building…something…not sure what. But it involves people. Little people. Building. And at pretty neck-break speeds. Building. And now, construction has stopped…and we’ve been reduced in size…painfully so. And I feel lost. Utterly lost. And though I know it’s not true, I feel I should be steadier. That there is something wrong with me…because I’m an adult and all. I am actually responsible for raising little people into grown people. And apparently, I have a belief in a faithful God who has up and carried me at times. Yet I’m floundering. Falling. I feel as if I’ve slipped through His fingers. And I’m more than a bit mad at God…cause good grief…really…this hard? When He could just lift it? Really? So…mad at Him. Mad at me. For being so human. So fragile. So. Lost. 

And purpose? I’m grappling. So, I’m binge watching This Is Us on Amazon Prime. (Thank you, Jesus. I’ve waited a YEAR to watch this show.) But sooner or later, I must engage my family again. (Yes, yes my door IS locked and I’m sitting in the dark…living vicariously through the Pearsons.) And maybe God. Maybe I’ll engage Him again. Maybe. But til then, I’m moving forward through my days. Without a clear purpose…other than not messing up my kids…too much. For today, I’m gonna let this ride. Maybe for a few days. Til I run out of episodes. Or til my feet find steadier ground. I’m gonna be gentle with me…this time. I am between. For today, I am between. 

OH! The Irony.

We are homeschooling this year. And I can tell you one thing for sure…I am option #2. Me, teaching Eden, option 2…no doubt. Option #1 leaves me a bit weepy, as I drop Denver off at option #1 a couple of days a week for preschool. (Why yes, yes we did get a scholarship for a couple of days a week to the school of my dreams, thank you very much.), Anyhoo, we are figuring out this whole homeschooling thing. And it definitely has its perks…#1 being pace. (Whew…do I like a slow stroll.) But I digress…again.

Here’s the deal…I love elementary school. I mean LOVE it. I remember sitting at a round table in kindergarten, in one of those impossibly tiny chairs…hands behind my head…looking up at the ceiling…thinking, Wow! I’m really here. I’m in school. I love this place! 

And now, we have an elementary school at the end of our street…a mere quarter mile from our front door. Annually, I take the kiddos and we walk with the throngs, up our street…scurrying to class for the first day of school…cause…YEA! First day of school! Right? I’m not about to miss the excitement. And this year would have been our first time to actually ENTER the school as…a bonafide student! But…well, we veered a bit from the traditional path.

And wouldn’t you know it, something even COOLER has taken the place of our attending the school at the end of our street. And the irony is making me giggle.

Phil rides the bus to work…daily. And his bus stop is right in front of the school. And his but leaves at 7:33…about 10 minutes prior to the elementary school’s first bell of the day. And yes…Eden, Denver, and I join the throngs of students walking to school (Eden on a scooter and Denver on a big wheel). We wait for the crossing guard. We chat with the kids. We wave to friends as they enter the school building. And we join Phil (who gets there much quicker via bike). And we wait for the bus…right there…in front of the school. By the time we get Phil loaded (lots and lots of hugs and kisses later), the school bell rings. And we “walk” home. Happily. Giddily. With me chuckling to myself the whole way. Life sure is funny.

Breathing. Crying. Healing.

So, for the past year and a half, our family has been…ummm…busy. On March of 2016, we welcomed a newborn and a toddler into our home, and more pointedly, into our hearts. We hit the ground running! And honestly, I kinda like that…being so busy that I barely have time to think…which frees me from feeling. And oh, what a delicious luxury…to escape my feelings…cause WHEW! I am a feeeeeeler, y’all. A feeeeeel-er. And I don’t always/ever like to feel. I’ve been know to drown emotions in wine…in queso/guacamole/Mexican food goodness…in movies…in cake…in coffee…and for a brief stint, in running (helllllo runners’ high.)

But here I am. All of a sudden, my frantic pace of keeping up with four people under the age of five, has come to a screeching HALT. And I’ve given up wine, running, cake…and a few other vices. So I’ll be damned if I’m not stuck here…having to FEEL my feelings. But I’m not that easily lured into the healthy processing of emotions. Bah! Since the littles have left, I’ve delved deep into Facebook and Netflix. Ha! Reading/Watching until I pass out at night. No feelings here. No siree bob.

Oh! But Sundays. Grrrrr. I go to a place every Sunday…and the spirit is thick, y’all. Floating about…opening my clenched heart…moving me away from isolation toward a community of believers who want to enter into my pain and help me heal. Ick! Ick! Ick! 

And so I stand by Phil…in church, surrounded by community…and cry and cry and cry. With that wooing voice…”Stop running away from this pain. It will not kill you! In fact, it will heal you. Let it in. Let it wash in, over, and through you. Lean in, Jan. Lean in.”

And so, I lay myself bare…leaning in. Breathing. Crying. And healing. 

You Know Better!

One of the delights and heartache of parenting is hearing your words come out of your children’s mouths. It cracks me up every time I hear Eden say, “No ma’am!” to her sisters who are being stinkers. However, these phrases…not so much, “You know better!” the worst being “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Sigh. The beauty and wonder of this parenting gig is the chance to launch these kids into the world as a powerful source of love and light. But first, oh first…our own hearts need healing…so that the words that come out are a balm…not a vat of boiling oil. Ahem.

The deal with Eden’s words of admonishment…nay…condemnation toward her sisters, well, those words are my self-talk phrases…the very voice of self-condemnation. It makes me sad that the voice in my head and heart is so harsh…and it encourages me to be more gentle with myself. Cause like it or not, when I get squeezed, that is the voice that spills out of my mouth…out into the world…all over my spouse and my children. I want my words to bring life and not death.

And so, I endeavor to soften my responses to my own short-comings. Let’s see how this goes! Social experiment #921…in play. This should be good.

 

Treasure

We believe our time with the Peas is drawing to a close. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But in anticipation of a life without these precious girls, my heart cannot help but treasure moments. Images of dimples and crazy hair and chubby legs and outreached arms…the way Chick Pea holds my face as we touch noses…the way Sweet Pea says “Ma ma ma,” and sings with me “Ahhhh ahhhh ahhhh”…these moments placed and secured in a trove.

Some folks, lots of folks, shy away from fostering for this very reason…the fear of loss. Oh! But to live each day with the awareness that time is fleeting…such a gift! This  awareness colors our home and relationships…shading the moments of our lives with brilliant hues…making life just a bit sweeter. 

We wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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.