Yesterday I told you about how hard it was to spend 5 days in the hospital with a baby. I know I probably didn't have to tell you that - you're all smart folks and could have figured that out on your own. But in case you missed it...it was hard.
I'm great in emergencies. I really am. I handle stress well, don't panic, keep it cool, all that jazz. But afterward...
I've been a bit of an emotional wreck. I didn't want to go back to work for fear of missing out on my kids' lives (but I did). It hit me how scary it was to see my baby so sick. And then there's the judgment...
Parents are judged all-the-time or at least they feel that way. The kiddo throws a tantrum in the grocery store because they don't get the candy they want - cue judgemental stares. Cutie tells the daycare worker "mommy tried to drown me", flips someone off, or drops the "f-bomb". It doesn't matter that none of that behavior ever actually happened at your home, suddenly you feel like a really bad parent.
Normal parenting judgement is bad enough but hear me - it is FAR worse as a foster parent. Not only do you have all of the normal judgement and guilt as if you were the birth parent but you also have it from all of the other areas. You're constantly monitored by the state and worry what the state will think. If you're with a private agency you have the state AND the agency. Your child has a caseworker, a CASA, an attorney and all of them have supervisors. Then there's the judge and everyone who knows you as the foster parent. Last but not least, the birth family - no matter how bad their situation they have the "right" to judge every decision you have.
Let's take our recent trip to the hospital. There is no question I did absolutely the right thing. Naturally I felt horrible that my baby was sick and I had to watch him be sick for 5 days tied to tubes and wires but I was judged (or felt judged) from every side. Nurse practitioner thought I was going overboard bringing him to the hospital that night; based on how I described it she felt I could wait until the morning. I couldn't and everyone in the ER said so (uh - he was admitted) but nevertheless was I a crazy mom? I had to tell the CW. She had to tell the parents. He had to miss a visit. Is it my fault? Did I do something to cause his illness? Am I not taking care of him well-enough? The answer is of course not but those thoughts are surely running through some of their heads. Afterall - he's had a cough for almost his entire life.
Or, let's take this woman...she used to get on my case because she felt I wasn't brushing his teeth well-enough. Imagine the guilt when the first time he went to her home to spend the night he came down with a gum-infection? Was it my fault? No, absolutely not, he caught some virus somewhere and it's not because I live dirty or expose him to things he shouldn't be exposed to. Nevertheless, mommy guilt x5.
I was even judged yesterday by the health insurance people for PAYING for baby's prescription myself. There was some sort of issue getting his medicaid approved at the pharmacy so after 15-20 minutes with a rambunctious 3 year old at my feet I said forget it, I'll just pay the $5 myself for the prescription. $5 - oh the shame - I shouldn't have done that. I should have just called and had them fix it first. Right.
While we're talking about my daughter - I don't talk about our challenges much because in comparison to some of the foster care crazy she's fairly mild but the reality is that she's a challenging 3 year old. She's spunky (read: tends toward the defiance). We've been potty-training her for 18 months now. Eight.Teen.Months... She's persistent (read: stubborn). She throws a good fit. She argues about anything. She wants her way or no way. She's anything but the perfect proper princess. (But we love her and most of these things are not outside the range of normal for 3 year-old girls).
(Imagine trying to keep her from catching something at the hospital? You know, playing on the floor, eating things off the floor, touching EVERYTHING....blech!)
After all the judgement from the hospital visit what did we get? A call from the board of our local baseball league. He wanted to tell us that the coach has complained that our daughter's behavior during games is unacceptable and out-of-control. The phrase "Kicking & Screaming" was used with complete inaccuracy. We were accused of not participating. We were accused of not doing anything about it. The reality is that even with my 2-4 other kids I typically jump out there and try to help guide her because none of the ACTUAL coaches do ANYTHING to help. Not a thing. Every once in a while one of the moms out there says in her softest princess-like voice "please come by your cone sweetheart" but that is NOT something my daughter will listen to. There's no encouragement. There's no softly grabbing her hand and walking her to where she needs to be. There's no stern coach voice. Nothing. They just ignore her so despite my best judgement (which is to let the coaches be the coaches and not interfere) I have to be the crazy mom who runs on the field to stop her from taking off her shoes and pouring rocks in it. (Side note - when I was in the hospital she came to see us after her game. I asked her if she poured rocks in her shoes and she proudly said NO! with a smile...then pointed her head to show us she put it there instead. *Sigh*). I wasn't asked to be a coach. I've been team mom twice and my husband's coached for 4 years but we weren't given the opportunity with this team and all of a sudden we're being shamed and judged for our daughter's behavior?
The reality of the situation is that our daughter's behavior drives me nuts during the games and she is clearly different from the other girls who are much more compliant. They are all only, first, or far-spaced children. The parents are the same. I don't want to speak bad about them but it is clear they are first-time parents to few children. I'd be happy to hand them #7...remember him? The one who vomited on command? Or how about #10 - the one who screamed so loud all.the.time. Of course, that would only prove to them that we are bad parents. The truth is I've got a huge family and worked with children forever (and now a Ph.D. in human behavior) and I can say with certainty Summer is different but not abnormal and we are not bad parents. But these people are happy to try and point out to us our flaws. By calling the board. About our 3 year old. (Did I mention to you they never even once have talked to us about it? Not even once?)
So - WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?
I am convinced we're under attack. You see, just like Laurie and the Wright Family. If the enemy can convince me that I'm a bad mom to any or all of my kids he can shut me down from parenting any more children. So far there have been 21 and 2 are forever - he can't take that away - but if he could stop it there I know he would. It's not far reaching to believe the enemy would try to lie to mie to try to shut down what God could do through mie with our children or with anything else. This makes complete sense to mie especially in light of last week's developments...
Did I forget to mention the siblings? Of course not - you know about them but you didn't know...
Last week after texting CW about baby baby and being in the hospital she called to talk to me about "something". Turns out she had just talked to her supervisor and wanted to make sure we still were willing to take the siblings. They wanted to make sure we weren't going to accept another placement that night. They wanted us to get moving in pursuing our license because they saw the placement with the kids as imminent as soon as the judge made his ruling. Thankfully that didn't mean RIGHT THEN to anyone because we were still in the hospital but it still meant soon. We're supposed to talk about the license tomorrow and hopefully shortly after that the kids would move in.
If the enemy could make me believe I suck as a parent and I have my hands full with my rambunctious 3 year old and sick baby and maybe Logan should have been an only child anyway then maybe the kids won't come. And if they don't come then they'll go somewhere else. And who knows what happens if they go somewhere else. And who knows what would happen to Summer. Or Logan. Or baby baby. Or Mie.
No - I'm a good parent. I KNOW that I'm a good parent and I won't accept lies. I will be a good parent to any child that comes into my home. I have a strong reputation for that.
In the meantime I'm working on my gracious response to baseball coach (and whoever else is involved) because "BITE MIE", "SUCK IT", "How would you handle vomit-on-command", and "I hope that baby you're carrying ..." well, nothing good can come of those...
Pray for our family as we handle what we're given and look forward to each step. Pray for our license to be changed tomorrow and our new kids to come very soon. Pray for health for all of us and serenity for Summer. and pray for the people at baseball...