The many journeys of us Merediths with Cleft kids, fostering and adoption, the army, books and whatever else comes our way.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The reality of sisters in the trenches
Last Friday I sat in my living room with my sisters and we laughed, celebrated, and prayed together. We've been doing this for several months now and it has become not only a necessity but a highlight. I cry almost every time, I don't fight ya'll. There's no point.
It wows us every time we get together how incredible it is that God orchestrated and planned all of our paths to converge on each other and raise these siblings together as this new, weird, family unit. And we gathered together in my small living room to pray over our kids. We had all been at court together on Tuesday to hear about the appeal and adoption date. That, in and of itself, had been a surreal moment to look around in the lobby and see these six kids that I've watched survive, cope, and begin to thrive through this dark and tragic two years in foster care and they are now happy, loved, and blossoming kids with families who love them and were chosen by God to raise them.
But even after surreal and joy filled moments, comes the drop of reality. And if we're too busy, we'll miss it…we'll call it something else. But a lot of adoptive and foster parents know, and we are learning that no behavior is without purpose.
Lil miss thang has begun to go through a passive-aggressive-rebellious streak. Yes, its as exhausting and ridiculous as it sounds. Upon further and more enlightening inspection we realized that she never had the chance (because of what she's been through) to go through the "terrible twos".
OH Yippeee! [I scream with elated joy]
So we've had trouble at preschool, trouble at home, and to top it off she almost got sent home from BSF on Wednesday. Yes, I had to take that walk of shame across the parking lot and "have a talk " with her before she could return to her classroom. And you can believe, I had "the look" and my best version of a "dad" voice that I could muster. I was so mad.
This behavior continues at home. She's asserting all of the new found attitudes and authority issues that she's developing but what makes it hard is she's not just a "I DO IT!!!" two year old throwing a fit, she's a manipulative four year who's testing the waters of "who's the boss and how can I get away with this?" while simultaneously acting like a gremlin and a scared cat. Any emotion that she doesn't know how to convey comes out as crazy. I'm not even joking. Shy…straight to crazy, embarrased…crazy, tired…crazy. You get the picture.
See what I mean? Exhausted.
I will admit to you, with my head hanging so far down that my chin is touching the floor, I yelled at her last night aver a toothbrush. A TOOTHBRUSH. I mentioned in my last post that we're doing all the fundamentals, socks, shoes, right, left, brush your teeth, wipe your own butt. She's brushed her teeth successfully several times. But tonight even with ample instruction and encouragement, she holds the toothbrush, as if it might catch fire and acts as if she has no control over her own body and doesn't know she has teeth in the back of her head. I was in fact able to calm myself and find a solution. I stood her up on the counter so she had to watch herself in the mirror brushing her teeth. This is reality folks. It ain't pretty. I fail daily, in ways that would make you gasp.By thursday, I had lost it and called an emergency best friend night with Kayla at Carrabas. And come to find out, each of the siblings had had "aftermath" behaviors the rest of that day or even week. I wasn't alone. SHEW!And my sisters get this.
Patty, Kayla, Madi and Courtney understand that though we had a surreal and slightly futuristic moment in the lobby, the joy of seeing each other and the foreshadowing of what life will be like as adopted kids in one big weird white family, was later overshadowed by the emotions and memories that are triggered simply by the sight of their siblings and a courtroom. All of these emotions are hard for these kids to process. And we've even watched those emotions manifest themselves in many different ways over the past two years.
And though in the moment, they are often times exhausting to work through and seemingly without hope…when we get together we can laugh about them, like belly-laugh-till your face hurts kind of laugh. And that is what keeps from crying. I know I said I cry when we pray but I'm talking about that that kind, like, "If I don't laugh I'll ugly cry. Though I'm pretty real friends ugly cry and we don't judge, just saying.These women aren't my sisters by blood. But there are my sisters because we have joined together to make sure these kids can grow up knowing their half brothers and sisters. They are my sisters because God saw fit to entrust us with these precious, fragile, hurting, confused, beautiful, and sometimes exhausting kids. We are unworthy of the treasures that they are and we are unqualified for the task at hand but together we come before our Heavenly Father, we lay these kids at his feet, we bare our inadequacies and we ask him beg him to give us tools from HIS tool belt to help us parent these kids.Adopting kids is not like it is on Pinterest.
Sure, I'm looking forward to a big, fun filled "Gotcha Day Party" but after the party is over there's still lifelong issues that we'll walk through together. Foster Care is not filled with glory and radiant light. Even though there are moments that overwhelm us to our very core, that God would let us be a part of his rescue mission, there are plenty of days where it just feels like the trenches; dirty, hopeless, shrapnel flying at your face, losing battles to win the war, fighting a ruthless enemy and sometimes longing for the way it was before (before you'd seen the suffering of the world and begun to fight in this battle).But if parenting is the trenches and it requires the ammunition of prayer, support and laughter… And lots of Jesus...
But I wouldn't rather be in the trenches with anybody else.
(someday, if I can convince them, I'm fairly certain this whole crazy ride will be a book. Because you might be shocked out of your socks if you knew everything God has done for these kids and our large unrelated multiracial family)