Pre-kids we loved to entertain – I like to wine and dine guests and A loves to chit chat. We were part of a “dinner party” group so my next opportunity to cook a fabulous meal was never far off. Well, these days I’m cooking more chicken nuggets than filet and enjoy my dinners in sweatpants covered in mashed carrots flung by an infant. Glamorous, huh?
Recently we had some family visiting from across the country and before thinking through the logistics, I offered to host them for a dinner. That meant I had to clean my house and spend a bit longer in the kitchen than a 15 minute mac and cheese. Crap. It was going to be a challenge. Could I still entertain with a baby on my hip and a sticky 3 year old who demands attention.every.minute? Well my friends, I’m happy to announce that, with some modification, I can! With a few recipes that I could prep in advance and that cooked quickly with ingredients that were relatively Sprout-and-adult-friendly, we all enjoyed a yummy dinner and I got a little confidence pick me up. It felt good to have a glimpse of the old me – to know that every day I’m working closer to a balance that’s good for all of us.
In case you’re looking for some crowd-pleasing (but easy!) ideas, here’s our menu:
If you were in my car this morning, you would have overheard the following exchange…
“Mommy, who made the sky?”
“Well, the sky is made up of water vapor, dirt particles, and a mixture of gases that make up the ozone layer, I think.”
::pause:: “But who made it?”
“Oh. Does he live there?”
“Yeah, sort of.”
“Does he have an airplane?”
“I don’t think so…why do you ask?”
“How does he stay up there?”
“Mmm, good point. Maybe he does have an airplane.”
“What’s God’s last name?”
“Well, he doesn’t have a last name. Just one name – like Madonna.”
At this point we arrive at school and I breathe a sigh of relief. I think I handled that pretty well…until he makes a beeline for the first teacher he sees and announces loudly, “My mommy said God has an airplane like Madonna!”
Hmmm. I clearly need to be more prepared for these types of conversations.
- 7,062 children currently in foster care. Can you even wrap your mind around that number? I can’t. Absolutely staggering. And pathetic considering CT has the highest per capita income in the country.
When I tell people I’m a foster parent, I’m usually greeted with one of two responses:
1) Awww, you’re doing such a wonderful thing. Those kids are lucky to have you.
2) Isn’t it hard to give them back? How do you not fall in love with them?
I appreciate and understand the responses, but they both tend to give me the deer-in-the-headlights look because, honestly, they are missing the mark all together.
Foster Parenting is not right for everyone. We all contribute to this world in different ways and that’s okay. Would it be helpful and wonderful if everyone who was able donated blood? Sure! But you will never catch me standing in line at a R.ed C.ross blood drive – it’s just not something I can do. Give me 5 drug addicted infants and a max of 2 hours of sleep at night? That I can handle. A and I decided to become foster parents because there was a need that we knew we could fill. As simple as that.
And our kids? Let’s face it…they aren’t lucky at all. They are foster children before they are even old enough to know what that means. They have zero permanency or control and they are at risk for severe attachment issues. They’ve been abandoned by all the family they’ve ever known, including the woman that birthed them. Sprout has been bounced from house to house, literally just dropped at doorsteps and has had to put away his fears and open his heart to complete strangers knowing his survival depended on it. He has seen things and knows things that 3 year olds never should. Rosebud has been saved from much of the heartbreak and struggle that Sprout has seen, but that may change when she has to say goodbye to the only mothers she has ever known. These children are very, very unlucky.
It’s A and I that are the lucky ones. We are privileged beyond explanation to have the opportunity to parent them and love them. Those children are amazing. They are resilient and powerful. They have a light that captured my heart and changed it forever. A tiny three-year old taught me more about bravery, faith, and love than I had ever known. I am so lucky to be their mommy. They made my dreams come true. Contrary to popular belief, foster parenting is not a selfless act – you get so much in return.
Will it be hard to give them back? Have I fallen in love with them? If you read this blog, you already know the answer to both. But like I said before, those questions miss the mark entirely. The thing is, I love those children so much that I can not imagine not being there for them when they need someone the most. I pray that being foster children is the hardest thing they need to endure and I love them so deeply that I will break my heart for the honor of being the soft place for them to land.
I also have a beautiful video to share for Foster Care Awareness month, but really it deserves its own post, so it’ll be a little something to look forward to.