Having six kids under the age of ten is strangely similar to living life in a petri dish. There are simply not enough Clorox wipes to touch every snot-smothered surface during this time of year. Between public school, daycare and the church nursery, we are maxed out on the merging of germs. DONE.
We have surely met our medical deductible for the year and it’s only March. I have a parking spot and exam room with our family’s name on it reserved at the local pediatrician’s office. I’m lying about that but we should, just sayin’. We have been friends with the flu, pneumonia times two, pink eye from the devil that almost blinded half of us, wheezing, nosebleeds, rashes and double ear infections-all in the past thirty days. Our doc is on speed dial.
Most days we are simply surviving.
Speaking of survival, a few years ago, I read a book that was popular in the mom circle titled Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. I skimmed through it one day and realized she wasn’t writing to our family. My days are never routine. Most weeks are filled with some sort of foster care drama, run ins with a government agency, eye rolling at the system and lots of attitude adjustments on my part.
I’m often wondering if a birth mom will confirm her visit or if dad will get out of jail. My mind is thinking through future transitions and best possible placements for siblings. The list of things I need to do is pared down to this: eat, breathe, survive. Notice sleep didn’t even make the cut. Surely there’s a notebook full of things I want to do; things that would be nice to get done. But that’s not the life we lead.
I do what’s in front of me because that’s all we have time for.
All of you planner types are cringing now, I know it. This is where being the more, ahem, flexible personality that I am comes in handy. My many years as an ER nurse spent triaging patients is proving to be one of my strongest assets. I wake up each day and sort out what’s most important and who or what needs my attention for the moment. Sometimes its a sick kid or an emotional meltdown or an unannounced visit from a case worker-GOOD MORNING!
Because of all this chaos and change, our family needs community more than most.
This week, I needed bread. Bread. That’s it. My kids had eaten their weight in fruit cups because some kind soul from a local church donated several boxes to us last month. Bless. I was running out of creative lunches-an area of growth already very apparent in my life. Food prep isn’t my forte. Surely the Lord left that out of my configuration when he created me. I just needed to make a PB&J. Well, I needed to make six of them, and that takes TWELVE pieces of bread. Pretty much an entire loaf…for lunch.
My sweet gal pal texted me while she was out to ask if I needed something. YES…BREAD! She popped by a few hours later. Along with my much needed item, she also delivered a sweet chocolate treat and some fragrant flowers-my love language.
She gets me.
She is my people.
I am incredibly blessed with a deep bucket of sacrificial friends. They bring us groceries, diapers, wipes, hugs, prayers and their friendship. They watch our kids without a moment’s notice, they make an extra batch of chili to feed our family and their own, they drop coffee on their way to work or a large Coke with crushed ice in the afternoon.
They carry us.
Knowing we are not alone is an invaluable gift because this race isn’t won in isolation.
Engaging with the pulverized pieces of this world is exhausting and community is key. We have to let people help. We must drop our guard long enough to let them know we need them.
Foster mama friend of mine, I pray you have people. If not, find some. Many won’t help but many more just don’t know how. Be transparent. Ask for what you need. When someone inquires about how this whole foster care thing is going, be vulnerable. Let them see your needs so they can step in and hold you up when you can’t go on.
You’ll be bruised and broken from this journey, but you don’t have stroll solo.
and finally..if you are my people, I love you.
Please don’t let the ways you have served my family feel small. They aren’t. Coffee, kid watch, phone calls, kind words, hot dinner, gift cards, donations of baby clothes, grace for our shortcomings and simply showing up aren’t insignificant.
Hear my gratitude.
We need you.
We want you.
I can’t always reciprocate in this season, but I am confident that Jesus can.