I am SO tired of seeing stuff like this. Yes, it is okay to be selfish occasionally. Yes, I do hide chocolate in the bathroom closet so my children can't find it. Yes, I may add extra cherries to a dessert so that my kids won't eat that either but sometimes what is best for you is irrelevant and I'm tired of being told to "de-stress".
Don't get me wrong, stress is real y'all. Doctors, family and friends have all told me to get rid of my stressors or they are going to cause health issues. However, what if you can't get rid of your stressors? Y'all, I love my kids but 80% of my stress comes from those little terrorists. We do foster care and our kids sometimes come with more issues than most but, lets be honest, everybody's kids cause stress. No amount of training, experience or preparation has prepared me for the wide range of challenges that have walked through our door. Some days it has literally felt like a warzone. After several years, it has gotten better but if my struggles can help even one, then I want to share.
I have spent the better part of three years fighting on behalf of and with my children. Not just the two who are adopted but the other 6 who have come and gone. While we fight for them, it feels like they are fighting against us. For whatever reason, kids tend to make those who love and care for them their primary target. For us, its understandable. The kids we get have a past full of neglect and trauma but after talking with other parents, it seems that biological children tend to display their anger in similar ways.
Lets just say that each kid has their honeymoon phase but once that's over, the battle begins. They usually want nothing to do with my husband because they see him as the disciplinarian and are usually extremely vocal about their hatred for me. After the honeymoon phase, our days usually consist of slammed doors, emotional outbursts and hateful looks. They make sure to let us know that they do not want to be with us and that we are not their parents. Oddly enough, they still want constant attention and reassurance from us. Which, lets be honest, is the last thing that you want to give after a day of fighting for everything.
Here is what I've learned. My success in parenting isn't based on the behavior of my children. My sense of being a good parent comes from loving my children well despite their behaviors. It has taken me three years and 8 kids to reach this point. I used to be so hard on myself. I thought that their behavior was a direct reflection on my ability to be a good parent.
Here is just one fun example. Several years ago I only had 2 foster kids, I say only because I
now have 4 kids total. After church, while carrying the infant, the four year old demanded to be carried. Well obviously I couldn't do that at the time. This four year proceeded to throw a full out tantrum in the church. I'm talking rolling on the floor, screaming and crying. People were looking and I was SO embarrassed and this wasn't a short tantrum. We were eventually locked in the church long after everyone left so the Elders didn't have to wait any longer. This particular incident left me shaken, embarrassed and ashamed. How could I be a good parent if this kid was doing this?
It is absolutely ridiculous the thoughts that have passed through my mind over the last several years. It's crazy that an emotionally stable, confident, grown adult would be so tied up by the behaviors of a child. I was so depressed at one point that I wondered if I was pressing the whole being a parent thing. Maybe it wasn't really what God intended for me. I mean , he didn't let us have kids naturally so maybe I heard him wrong when I felt led to foster. Ugh... it was a rough couple of months.
We as parents are all tired all the time. Parenting is a crazy thing. How we manage to not lose our minds under the responsibility of it is amazing. We are responsible for our little ones. We are responsible for taking care of these precious souls and making sure that we nurture and teach them about the world. It is a SERIOUS thing to raise a human but never forget that as we are raising them, we're still trying to figure it out too and should give ourselves some grace.
If nothing else, I want every parent to take this away. Whether you're raising biological children, foster children or adopted children their behavior isn't always a reflection of you. God gave you these children to raise because he knew you could handle it and that you alone could raise them to be the people that He means for them to be.
While we can teach them all the right things, their actions are still their own choice and while my kids tend to act like tiny terrorist, I always like to remind myself of this verse: "In their hearts humans plan their courses, but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9.
I love this verse for many reasons. The first is that it helps me with my anxiety about life in general. However, as for this post, it helps in knowing that no matter how much I want to plan the future for my kids and make the right choices for them, I can't. I can take comfort in the fact that God manages all the details and their lives are in His hands.