What I Learned in My 1st Month of Parenting

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.

7 Responses to What I Learned in My 1st Month of Parenting

  1. Mama says:

    What a wonderful blog! I am so impressed with how you have handled Ladybug and yourselves throughout this precious time with her. And I needed this reminder myself today of holding our loved ones very lightly in our hands because they belong to God, and He can and does a much better job than we ever could on our own. I’m so proud of you, Martina…. My buttons are popping off.

    • Natalie says:

      Thank you for being so honest and transparent.

      My heart rejoices and breaks with yours through this post and I am so excited you’ve been given the time you have with Ladybug.

      And I am so excited that the kindness of others is still out there! Bless that lady for returning your cart for your husband. How amazing is that?!

  2. Julia says:

    What a heartfelt-God centered message…and a good reminder to no idolize our kids. You sound like an amazing Mom 🙂 -julia

  3. I love the tantrum story. I’ll remember that 🙂 And the elderly woman putting away the cart for Jason – so awesome. Made me tear up a little.

  4. Valerie F. says:

    thanks for the trip down memory lane — 5 years ago we picked our son up in guatemala, and i went from no kids to lady with “madonna arms” in no time flat since he was 25 pounds! 😉 hang in there, sweet blog friend. i can only imagine what it is like to face handing your child back, but it is a good reminder to all of us that our children are not truly our own. i’ll be praying for you.

  5. Bella says:

    She is so precious!

    Great post! Everything you said is just so true. We learned those exact same things in our first few weeks of fostering too.

    Not being sure of how long we would have “A” with us really taught us to take things day by day and appreciate every minute we had with her.

    BTW, that is a great tantrum tecnique idea! I’m going to try that with our 2 year old. 🙂

  6. Carlotta says:

    Thank you for this post. After my youngest had a serious accident in June, God has been reminding me that my children are not mine. Thank you for bringing in another facet of this lesson for me. Deacon is fine now. Bounced back a lot quicker than I did, for sure.

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