Wednesday, May 8, 2013

With kindness and love

I interact with other foster parents a fair amount, both online and in real life. I have found that this contact is essential for me in dealing with the daily stress of foster parenting. One thing I have noticed throughout these interactions is that foster moms are brutal. Not with the kids, never with the kids. Not with the caseworkers (to their faces, at least). Not with bio-families, no matter how much they push our buttons. No, there’s really only one person we’re rough on. OURSELVES!  

Man, if we make one small mistake, we beat ourselves up about it for days. If we get frustrated and snap at a child or don’t know how to handle a particularly off-the-wall behavior, we fret that we are the wrong caregiver for that child. We think maybe they’d be better off with someone else. And then the guilt sets in. We made a commitment. Disruption would be so hard for the child. I shouldn’t be feeling this way about this hurting, scared, confused baby. We feel afraid of the challenge we are facing in these kids. Then we are frustrated with ourselves for being afraid, for not wanting the challenge, for thinking it is too much for us. It’s a complex, vicious cycle of emotions.

The other thing I see over and over amongst foster mamas is unbelievable kindness to each other. If someone is beating themselves up over something publicly, you better believe a whole crew of mamas are going to come forward with support, validation and personal stories to normalize those feelings. It is so easy for us to accept and love each other, to support each other with words and acts of kindness. After all, we know how hard it is. We get it. And we don’t want to see any other foster mama suffer when we know they are actually an amazing human being.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am pushing myself to treat ME with the same kindness, love and support that I see reflected within the foster parenting community. Instead of being my own worst critic, I’m going to try to be my own best supporter. I challenge other foster moms (and dads) to do the same. Love yourself the way you love the kids, with an open heart and an emphasis on the positive. You deserve it!

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