Our kids are not ours. We are not promised any number of days with them. This is especially evident for foster parents but it’s actual true for ALL parents. If we feel like we own our kids, we are mistaken. If we believe we can protect them from everything and keep them safe in our arms forever, it’s an illusion. I think the sooner all parents can grasp this, or un-grasp their kids, the better it is for everyone.
On the morning of our big team meeting where we knew we’d be hearing the details of how and why Ladybug will most likely be moved to live with a family member (as you can imagine a complicated, heart-wrenching decision which will ultimately be made by a judge…tomorrow), I decided to read the story of Abraham and Isaac again. It’s in Genesis 22 if you’re unfamiliar but the gist is this: Abraham had been promised a son and waited a really, really long time before his wife got pregnant. When Isaac finally arrived, Abraham absolutely adored him. He idolized him to the point God needed to test Abraham’s allegiance as it seemed that Isaac—the answer to Abraham’s prayers and a promise from God—had moved before God in Abe’s priorities. God had some really important plans for Abraham and Isaac so it was essential he stayed on course. The test was that God asked Abraham to give Isaac back to Him, to take his life as an offering to God. It wasn’t until God was sure that Abraham was really willing to do it, that He stopped him. After reading that story, I got out of bed and went into the bathroom picked up my quick daily devotional read, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
On August 23rd, this is what it said:
Entrust your loved ones to Me, surrender them to My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one–as well as yourself.
Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from son-worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love.
When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.
At some point every parent has to figuratively put Isaac on the alter and admit they don’t own their child, the Creator does and entrusts children to us as He sees fit.
Recognize each day as a gift. When you come to the place of accepting that you are not promised tomorrow, it’s easier to appreciate today. This is true not just for parents but all people. As a foster parent it is blatanly obvious – I have today. After that, I have no promises. You better believe we are making the most of everyday we have with little Ladybug.
Since this post is getting pretty heavy, here is some lightness…
Other beneficial side effects of [foster] parenting:
My biceps are huge! I mean, I’m a petite lady so my arms are still pretty scrawny but considering… I’ve got guns! I didn’t have the ease of working my way up from a 7 lb. baby to a heavy toddler… we went straight into parenting a 25 pounder. The first week my arms and lower back were killing me. Now, they barely hurt at all.
I’ve learned some pretty slick parenting techniques through our training and also just from living and learning. Of course, most of these tricks only work a handful of times so it’s an on-going cycle of learning, trying, succeeding, failing and moving on. For example, this temper tantrum technique worked beautifully and impressed some witnesses: Temper tantrum started. I laid the kid on the ground and said, “OK, go! Go ahead! Tantrum! I’m ready.” She looked at me bewildered. I said, “Come on! Yell!” I raised her arms above her head and jiggled them around fake screaming “Ahhhhh!” “And kick your feet!” I stomped her feet up and down and growled, “Ugh! I’m so mad!” By then she was laughing and the tantrum moment had past. I felt brilliant. But then it only worked a couple more times before she was on to me. Ten days later, the worst tantrum ever. I had to put her in her crib and walk away to keep her from hurting herself or me. You win some. You lose some.
People are so friendly to us in public. Strangers stop to comment on how beautiful she is. Ladybug is super friendly and says hi and waves to everyone at the grocery store, even if their backs are turned. An older woman at the grocery store even offered to return Jason’s shopping cart after he unloaded groceries into the silver bullet. “I remember what it was like grocery shopping with kids,” she smiled. An elder putting away a cart for a 28 year old dad. Imagine.