Hello everyone! Mama S here. Where to start? Well… Man… the holidays are rough! When you are getting licensed people talk about how much being a foster family can pull out the stress you have in your lives. Were they ever right! I have always struggled with the holidays. As a child of divorce, the holidays were always spent shuffling from family to family and it was always so stressful. I would pray and pray that there would be a year that I didn’t cry leading up to the holidays. As an adult, that didn’t go away. I just found ways to cope with the stress and “survive the holidays”. Cue being a foster parent at the holidays…
Now, I don’t just have to worry about my mixed up feelings and thoughts, but I also have a vulnerable pre-teen that is all mixed up. You see, the holidays to the kiddos in care are even more stressful than mine were when I was little. The holidays are a time of family… think about that. Family… These kiddos are spending time away from the family that they have known so much of their lives. We can only speak on our kiddo and can’t even fathom other kiddos lives. We do things differently. We eat different food. We listen to different music. We dress differently. We smell differently. We speak differently. We interact differently. We exchange presents differently. We celebrate the holidays differently. We are different people. PLUS, there are now 30 extra people that they haven’t met that know everyone else SO WELL. All that is hard.
Then, you compound that with the guilt. Our kiddo is loving some of the things that we are doing, but then you see the look go across her face and you know that she is comparing to her life before living with us. She feels guilty for enjoying the holidays with us. Everything we do, we try to help her see that she doesn’t have to pick. That it is OK to love her mom and dad and it’s OK to love us too. She doesn’t have to pick either family. We are blessed! Her mom tells her that too. A lot of foster kiddos are not so lucky. Even with us talking about it, honoring her bio parents and traditions, it is still SO hard!
So, we are having a stressful holiday season and on top of that we went to the doctor and had P evaluated. There were 4 evaluations submitted by 4 different adults that see her on a daily basis and she also got to evaluate herself. They were all almost identical. She was labeled. The labels don’t matter to this blog, but they do matter to our house. You see, we got to talking and we feel relieved. We now have a few more pieces to the puzzle and now we have something we can research. We can try new strategies, partner with the school differently while we work toward and IEP. We can work with P to help her be her best self. Sounds great right?! Well… ALL that is change. And change is hard! Change is stressful. Change is scary. Mix those changes (albeit for the positive) and the holidays and we have a pressure cooker going on in the house.
So. What does all that rambling mean? Well, interestingly enough it means that things are going pretty well. We are learning more ways to help P be her best self and, even though it feels like we are drinking from a fire hose, we are making progress. Every day we learn something new and even though it isn’t getting easier, it is getting more familiar.
With the stress of the holidays, I’m started back at therapy. I’m not ashamed of that fact. In actuality, I’m proud. I’m proud to live in a household that supports each other and their need to seek help when they need it. I love that I am married to a wonderful woman that supports me in that. I know many people that talk about wanting to go to therapy but don’t/can’t for various reasons. I’m here to tell you to do it! Find a way. Get yourself help, an impartial party to talk things through. We all need help from time to time and there is no shame in that. I go to therapy for myself, but also for my family. I want to be my best self for them and so I go to learn skills to help me do so. <3
So, if you see Mama A and I over the next few weeks, give us a smile, a hug, and a cup of coffee. We could use it to get through this next bit!
All the love,