I honestly wish every single one of you could have been in my home last night. I wish you could have had a glimpse into what our night looked like because it was the best explanation of what it’s like being in foster care and why we are doing this.
Obviously, I know you all weren’t, so let me paint the picture as best as I can.
The past couple of days have been tough. Tough doesn’t feel as aggressive of a word as I need, but you can begin to understand.
We have had lots of whining when she can’t do what she wants, lots of conversations about behavior, and lots of frustration when she doesn’t agree with something that she normally wouldn’t even bat an eye at. We have had lots of hurt feelings from the most insignificant things and lots of crying when we have to leave places she likes being at, more specifically when we left our friends at church right before this all happened.
You may be thinking “Bri, kids have bad days, relax.”
This was different than that and I could feel it. I could sense it was off and it was different than those normal off day for a kid. I’ve learned that I will trust a mom gut over anything.
I finally- and I say finally because I don’t know what took me so long to do it- went up to her room last night and just let her feel her big feelings. Y’all, let me be very clear that our kid is not “lucky to have us”. The reason she has us is because she is the mists of a heavy trauma. So holidays? They are very sensitive around here.
I started asking her what was going on and why she was acting this was. Not in a yelling-you’re-in-trouble sort of way, but in the let’s-figure-this-out-together type.
Her response? “I don’t know, I’ve been having some tough days. I guess I was just scared to leave.” Can you imagine being 5 and not understanding what is going on or why you are feeling a certain way? No? Me either.
Scared to leave? Panic mode started setting in. Guilt started flooding over my body. My selfish mind immediately went to every scenario of why she would be scared to be at our house- “what could I have done? Am I not giving her enough love?”
O, sweet friends, how foolish I was. This literally wasn’t about me, nor will it ever be.
The more I dug, the more emotions poured out-
She misses her mom and sisters.
She is confused because she wants to live with them, but loves everything here.
She is afraid to leave places because she keeps thinking that she may go back at any second and will never see them again.
She struggles with wanting to go back home, but has a lingering fear that she will never see Eric and I again.
She worries about us if she leaves, but more importantly she worries who will feed the cats.
We felt it. We felt it so freaking hard.
We both sat up in her room ugly crying.
YUPP, I cried HARD right in front of her- no hiding it. Kids need to understand that emotions happen, even to adults. I will never tell my kids to “stop crying” because that teaches them to not feel what they need to feel and that burden will be carried to their adult life.
We cried, and hugged, and cried some more.
I cried because I felt that.
I felt her missing her mom and it hurt bad. I felt her hurting and everything in me wished I could take that pain from her.
I vowed to her that I was going to do everything in my power to get her back to her family, and if for whatever reason not, that I would make sure she never go without seeing them. I promised that I would try to become friends with her mom so maybe we could still see her if she goes back. I told her we would work on writing reminder notes about feeding the kitties because she honestly thinks we wouldn’t be able to handle that responsibility.
I told her nothing she did- no spilt food, argument with her sisters, no mess in her diaper, nothing- made her go into foster care. And with that, that she knows her story doesn’t determine how much room she should take up, how tall she should stand, or how much respect she deserves. If you hear our girl referring to herself as a queen, please don’t tell her otherwise or find arrogance in that.
Lastly, I told her how much I understood wanting to live with her mom and sisters. That’s it’s ok to have feelings of wanting to go back and it doesn’t hurt our feelings or make us love her less. Boy, did she need to hear that from me, I could physically see that weight lifted off her.
If you have gotten this far, you may be thinking we must have gone to court or she must know she is going back soon. We don’t. I have no clue when or if this will happen. You may even be shocked that she doesn’t just love being here because it is “better” than her situation before or maybe you even think she is ungrateful. She’s not, She is just a kid missing her family- not the stuff. Remember that this Christmas.
BUT, this is foster care- this is what goes through our girls head on a daily basis on top of the normal 5 year old feelings and worries. On top of worrying about learning to write and read, her friends and classmates, navigating through school, figuring out all the after school activities, and what not. I’ll be the first one to admit, my feed can be easily misunderstood to make foster care look fun. Let’s not normalize it and call it what it is, an epidemic y’all. Being with her is fun, not foster care. This is just our tiny way of trying to help end that.
Emotions come in waves. Some small, some big.
My goal? Teach our girl how to surf because they are going to come no matter what, so she might as well look good going through it.