I’m not much of a ranter and raver, but I have been sleep deprived (more than usual) and running around wild the last month or so and it’s been tough. One sick kid after another, including the 29 year old. 😉 And with these particular kids, “Netflix and Chill” doesn’t happen, even when they’re sick. I’ve tried to stay positive and maintain patience and a smile. But today, it kind of exploded out of my eyes (it was a salty liquid…), so here. A rant. Kinda.
Motherhood. I absolutely feel like I was prepared for this particular journey into motherhood through my teaching experience. Since I started my job at the After School Program in 2004 and then moved on to being a classroom teacher in 2009, I have taught hard kids in hard situations and family circumstances. Dealing with hard kids isn’t new to me and I was surprised how quickly teacher mode flowed into mom mode. The hardest adjustment was waking up before 7:30 (mornings are not my friend). I am lucky, I am blessed, and I know it. I am incredibly grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord, getting me where I am. I have settled in nicely and I am grateful that most days I can honestly say I am doing great! BUT….and you all know this…none of that means it’s easy being a mom. None of that means I am perfect and don’t struggle.
I make a lot of mistakes.
My patience does run out.
They drive me bonkers and somedays I wonder why I said yes to 3 at once (not for long, don’t worry!)
I have a lot to learn and sometimes…
IT. IS. HARD.
“But you asked for this.”
The endless diaper changes.
“No! Stop it, Mommy!” (Stop what? I don’t know yet…)
Droplets of liquid trailing the hallway that I *hope* is just water.
Tantrums. Hitting. Biting. Kicking. Throwing. ET CETERA. AAAAHHHHH!
“Helpful” children. (Messes 2.0)
Piles of clean (I think?!) clothes I still haven’t folded.
So many dishes!
Sleeping through my alone time with Jeff.
Loneliness because it’s too scary to venture out most days (did you see “lost boy” on the list!?)
Did I mention all the poop!?
A lot of you moms are probably out there nodding your heads saying “uh-huh!” Smile, nod, laugh.
“But you asked for this.”
A phrase I’ve heard several times from several people. So what? I did ask for this. For 5 long years, I asked for this. I am not ungrateful for it. I recognize I have been immeasurably blessed. But does that mean I can’t feel bad sometimes? My dreams came true! I’m a mom! Let’s dance through a field of flowers and butterflies and rainbows while we laugh and sing and smile. No more sadness or hard days ever again! Because “I asked for this.”
I know the list above is normal. This is just what it’s like to be a parent. I get that. I know my daily experiences aren’t that unusual for any mom of 3 (or 2 or 4 or 12 for that matter.) We all deal with exhaustion and messy houses and naughty toddlers. I know I’m not the only one going through hard times with parenting. And technically, we ALL asked for this. We all chose to be parents, so how about this: Don’t ask how I’m doing and if I happen to be having a hard day and open up to you (which is REALLY hard for me anyway), respond with “Yeah, but you asked for this.” Just give me a liter of Dr. Pepper, some chocolate, and let me be.
Holy moly. That’s all I have to say. Thanks for reading.
Just kidding. I actually have A LOT to say because I need to remember this, so pop some popcorn and try to keep up.
This is the mushy, gushy side of the our story. The “real” stuff will have to come later, in another post.
January, we waited to get licensed because our licensor was out of town when our background check came in. Boo. As soon as she was back in town, she was speedy and we were licensed before February rolled in.
February started…and continued. We hadn’t heard from DCFS, so I emailed the RFC coordinator and guess who was out of town for a week? Yep. January on repeat. More waiting. In the meantime, our stake created a new ward and we are in it! The bishopric came to visit and they brought an incredible feeling of peace and happiness into our home. We visited, didn’t get callings, and then they asked what they could do for us. Jeff, jokingly, said “you could help us get foster kids faster!” We chuckled because at this point, we weren’t even being considered because we hadn’t heard from DCFS yet, so it wasn’t a “real” request. But hey, if you’ve ever questioned the Lord’s hand in choosing our leaders, you can be assured that He is involved…very involved. They came. They brought us a message of happiness and joy and patience. They prayed with us. And do you know what happened after they left? Less than an hour later!? We got an email from our resource family consultant at DCFS. She came to our house four days later and was the final check mark on our list. We were now being considered for placements.
Unfortunately, she told us it takes an average of 6 months to get a placement, for good reasons. DCFS tries to keep the kids with their parents as long as possible while they receive help and counseling. Removals are taking longer than in the past because the ultimate goal is to keep families together. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. I am sure my face showed it, but I tried to stay positive. I had been waiting SO long for an opportunity to parent and I thought for sure we’d have kids within a month or two. Just kidding. I get to keep waiting. After 5 years, what’s 6 more months, right? Lesson learned. Patience is a lesson I will always be learning. 😉
I accepted it and started planning to continue my life without kids. I made plans to start volunteering in my old classroom again. I pulled up applications to volunteer with women and children in other crisis centers and at schools/libraries. I picked dates to go on a girl’s trip with my sister in law. I agreed to babysit nieces and nephews for a few days. I got a major (and I mean major) case of wanderlust around Valentine’s Day and pulled up dozens of locations I wanted to visit. I felt grateful for the drive to find other ways to serve and keep busy. I felt the same peace I’ve felt the last 5 years as I’ve waited for my kids. And then…just like that, my wanderlust disappeared. I knew it was too late to travel. I put away travel plans and prepared to start volunteering. I was a little upset because we did get new callings (Jeff is the Sunday School Pres. You can call him Mr. P) and decided not to go anywhere over President’s Day so we could be around to serve in our brand spanking new ward. I was bummed because for whatever strange reason, I knew I’d missed my chance for a vacation with Jeff for a while.
And this is why wanderlust left. On Sunday, Feb. 28th, my grandpa had a stroke. My heart told me I needed to be with them, so I spent the next two days driving my grandma to the hospital, sitting with her, watching him rest and complain about his “damn hand” (the complaining was a good sign, very characteristic of my grumpy old man, don’t worry!), and talking with them both. I felt fortunate to have the free time to spend my days with them, not worrying about any responsibilities because well…I had none. It was incredible to watch my grandpa progress and gain his strength back. He was a miracle and we all knew it. He hated the attention, he hated the visitors and told us all to go home. My aunt (who can get away with anything because she’s so cute) called him a “lucky bastard” because he was surrounded by family and friends who loved him. Seriously, if you’ve ever met my grandpa, you love him instantly. He’s a flirt, a tease, and he never ceases to express his love and pride in you. He is a lucky bastard. So lucky in fact, that by Wednesday we decided he didn’t need us at the hospital all day, so my mom told me not to pick grandma up that morning. She told me I had earned my “angel wings” that week for spending so much time with my grandparents. I kinda rolled my eyes, because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything extraordinary. It’s just what you do for those you love and it wasn’t a sacrifice for me to do it. It was a blessing. I was humbled. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with them. I will admit though, that a little, tiny, selfish part of my brain hoped I would be blessed in some way. I didn’t expect it, but the thought crossed my mind.
Here we are at Wednesday…I slept in, I was getting ready to finish a quilt (still not done!), and my grandma called. She couldn’t stay away from the hospital. So I showered and went to pick her up. On my way there, I got a phone call. Not just any phone call. THE phone call. It was DCFS. They had 3 kids in an emergency shelter home and they were looking for a permanent foster home. Let’s just say, I am lucky I didn’t crash while I finished driving. I told her we were interested, but I needed to call Jeff. He didn’t even hesitate. “Let’s do it.” I pulled up to Grandma’s house, told her the news, and she waited and cheered while I called them back and accepted the placement. We went to the hospital. Grandpa was so excited and just “tickled” for us. He couldn’t wait to meet them. **Sidebar, we also found out he’d be going home that evening! YAY!** We hugged and cheered, and I cut my visit with him short so I could call my mom and head home to get ready. She and my dad came down that night to help us set up beds and get organized.
On the way home, I prayed in my heart, expressing gratitude, excitement, and terror. And then I burst into tears as realization came to me. Heavenly Father gently and lovingly (and I imagine with a smile on His face) said “This is what you wanted.”
What I wanted. In 5 years, I’ve never gotten what I wanted. No easy answers. No easy fixes. No pregnancies. Not much progress. No more teaching school. No “miracle twin (girls, specifically, haha!).” I honestly felt that I always got what I needed, which was peace. Patience. And Peace. I always, always knew that God’s hand was in our struggle. I knew undoubtedly that He had a grand plan, but it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. But He gave me what I needed in the peace and reassurance that He was in charge. And that’s what carried me through. I got what I needed.
This time was different though. When we started this journey back in November, I continually said the most ideal situation would be a 2 or a 3 year old and a baby. Two young kids. A toddler for Jeff and a baby for me. When I received my calling to serve in the new ward, the counselor told me the bishopric was praying that the Lord would bless me with what I wanted. Did you read that right? He said what I WANTED. Not what I needed. I chuckled, I laughed it off and told me I never get what I want, but I always get what I need. I left and forgot about it until Wednesday, March 2nd when the call came. I was getting what I wanted, plus one.
A 2 year old boy. A 3 year old boy. And a sweet, 4 month old baby girl.
Still don’t believe our leaders are chosen and called by God? For the second time, our bishopric prayed and were blessed. Coincidence? Nope.
Now, are you ready for the real kicker and testimony builder? I always say I don’t care about gender. I say it to you. I don’t say it to Heavenly Father. I tell Him specifics I won’t admit to anyone else because I don’t want to seem selfish. I pray often for a baby girl. I tell Him “You know what I want and what I need. I want a baby girl. But more than that I want to be a mom and teach and love Your children as my own. So, if You can, get me a baby girl. BUT IF NOT…I will be ok. I know that You know what’s best for me and for those kids out there who need our family. Help us find them and teach them.” Sometimes, I am pretty casual in my prayers. 😉 See, Heavenly Father knows my heart. He alone knows I secretly wanted a baby girl to love. So you see…
I got what I wanted.
Blessings were fulfilled. If you’ve ever doubted whether or not Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, loves you, watches over you, I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you He does. He knows you. ALL of you. Every secret part of you. He hears you. He loves you. He watches over you. He blesses you. Sometimes, He gives you what you need. Other times, He gives you what you want. But He always gives.
Fast forward 4 weeks…all my plans were cancelled. I didn’t submit any applications. I only made it to the school once to volunteer. I cancelled babysitting for nieces and nephews (ironically, when she asked me I responded “I’d LOVE to! If we don’t have kids by then…wait, you need me in like two weeks. We for sure won’t have kids by then. I’ll do it.). My whole life changed overnight and has been a crazy, wild whirlwind ever since! The boys are…boys. We have some work to do, but they are so loving and kind (most of the time). The baby is so happy. She’s all smiles and giggles (unless she’s hungry, tired, or in her carseat) and we love them.
Parenting is hard. I miss sleeping in. But we are finally doing it! We love it. Jeff is AMAZING with the kids. I can’t say enough about how wonderful he is! I’m getting tired and fuzzy, which means it’s time to end. One last thought:
On that Tuesday, my mom said I’d earned my angel wings. The next day, we got the call to be parents. I certainly don’t feel like an angel and I think my wings are still on the shelf waiting for me, but I do believe angels have come to me. They give me energy when I am exhausted. Wisdom and inspiration when I don’t know what to do. Patience when I feel like I want to run away. Peace and humility as we figure this out. Joy in the journey. I am being carried on angel’s wings.
***I will not be posting pictures of the sweet littles on the blog or social media. If you want to see them, I’ll email you pictures. Or you can come over. ;-)***
So how about that time gap, huh!? A lot has changed for us since the last post in October. Catch up, with me please.
My thyroid is alive! The radioactive iodine imaging scan thingy showed a healthy organ. It works, just a little too hard. Kinda like Jeff some days. 😉 So for now, we are trying a medication and getting it adjusted to the right dose. My symptoms are improving (kinda), which is nice. Less shakes, less heart flutters, more motivation, but I am still just as tired. I hope they get the dose right soon, because I am so ready to stop sleeping in! 😉 Just kidding. I love to sleep.
We are not going back to fertility doctors anytime soon. We shifted our focus to getting my thyroid regulated. And in the meantime we were led quite obviously down a strange new path:
Yep. After all the problems we kept encountering with my health, I really started thinking about other options. We still have confidence in my body and in modern medicine, but it’s time to take a “time out” and let the stress and toxins of the last few years seep out. So we talked about adoption. We talked about foster to adopt/foster care. We prayed. We went to the temple. And the more we did that, adoption drifted to the back of my mind and foster care floated forward. We were planning to wait for a while to decide because we were moving into a new house and we weren’t sure what would happen with my thyroid. And then…on November 11th we went to the temple as an extended family to honor our Aunt Pat for her birthday. She passed away a month after Jeff and I were married. She was a big part of my childhood, particularly during the Easter and Christmas seasons. And as we sat in the celestial room, I knew. I knew that we have children waiting to be in our family. I knew that the priesthood blessings I’ve been given about being able to have children are real and valid. But I also knew that right now, Heavenly Father wants us on a new path. This path. I let those thoughts simmer. I shared them with Jeff. And on my birthday, we made the call. We called Utah Foster Care.
The rep came the next day and we started the application the following Sunday. We met with our doctor. We updated our vaccines. We wrote down emergency plans and phone numbers. We went to 32 hours of class in person and soaked in another 4 hours online. We made our home as safe and child friendly as possible without knowing exactly what situation we’ll be in. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming and analyzing. And today, we completed the home study. I was terrified, but we impressed the heck out of our licensor, which means it’s OFFICIAL.
According to the state of Utah, we are licensed foster parents!
I wish that meant we could accept children into our home tomorrow, but it doesn’t. DCFS has one more thing for us, and it’s a good thing. We will be assigned what’s called a RFC: Resource Family Consultant. My understanding is that she will basically be our personal advocate. She will be the one helping us and presenting our names to be considered by DCFS as children come into custody. It’s a really good thing actually, to have the extra level of support for our family. So in 2-3 weeks, we’ll meet with our RFC and explain who we are and why we are doing this. And then, once she’s fallen in love with us, she will be putting our name out there for consideration.
On this path, we have the wonderful opportunity to serve the children and families in our community. And while we would love to grow our family and hope that an adoption opportunity will come from this, we understand that in reality…it isn’t about us. It’s about the kids. It’s about love. We will love them, but their families love them too, regardless of the choices being made. And if we can help reunite a family by serving them in this way, we are happy to do it. We might have to let them go and we will miss them. We will cry for them. But we will be happy for them. Because that’s what love is.
Wish us luck!