The end of the beginning

…and breath. For a second, then reality hits and it’s like BOOM. You’re about to become a corporate parent to 3 kids.

Today was panel. The day we’ve (kind of) been building up to for the last year. It arrived, I felt nervous, my hubby felt sleepy (not such a morning person and he had to walk the dog whilst I dashed off to take a friends’ kids to school last minute). We drove to the council building, prayed, went in, and waited.

Thinking about it and remembering the waiting room brings back all the nerves! I wasn’t a wreck or anything, but quietly, excitedly nervous. We were on the top floor, and had a view of the miserable day outside. Literally, so grey and SO wet. Thanks Storm Angus😉 we wondered why the football stadium is named after a city in America, watched the scrapyard do some welding, and chatted a bit to our social worker. When she was called in to talk to panel, we played Rock, Paper Scissors (for all of 30 seconds) then waited.

Another group came in, a lady who was in for her review. She really calmed my nerves and her social worker and daughter reassured us that we’re not completely mad to take on 3 kids at once…!

Then our social worker came back, and in we went.

There were about 9 people sitting in a U-shape and we sat with our social worker facing them all. I found myself constantly trying to ‘read the room’ and try to figure them out. Not all of them asked us questions, in the end we were only in there for 15 minutes, or less even. They asked us why we wanted to foster, then asked my hubby about how he would find the continuation of work at home (he’s a social worker), then seemed to be a little worried that we’re quite young and approving us for up to 3 children is a big thing. Not really sure how we answered that one, but we were ushered out and they chatted for probably only 5 minutes but it felt like a while. It was at this point that our social worker told us that they could approve us, but for less than 3 kids. !!!!!. Actually quite glad we hadn’t known that beforehand…!

Back in we went where they told us that they were recommending us for approval to foster up to 3 children between the ages of 0 and 18, with a preference for 0-7s. And that was that. It still has to go to someone called the Agency Decision Maker who gives it their stamp of approval, THEN it will be official and we can actually be allowed to meet the three that will be our first placement. NOW it feels real. Almost.

Anxious

Anxiety has been the emotion of the day today. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that just won’t shift, the constant butterflies. Fear of the unknown.

What if we don’t feed them properly? How much food do kids even need? How much sugar is too much?

What about homework – how do you actually get kids to do homework?! How can we engage them in their learning if they literally cannot be bothered?

How are we going to cope with being outnumbered? We have no parenting experience to anchor ourselves with; what if we do things wrong and mess them up for life? What even is therapeutic parenting and what does it look like?

SO MANY WORRIES. Hakuna matata – not so much. These anxieties are all centred around being worried about my/our own capabilities. What if we can’t handle that, how will we sort that out…focusing on ourselves and our own strengths.

In writing it down, I’m gently reminded that actually we can’t do this in our own strength. We will fail. A lot. Daily, hourly. Yes, there will be times when it feels like we’re doing everything right and everyone is eating 10 fruit and veg a day, no sweets in sight, reading books read and homework done, temper isn’t lost and children are feeling super-nurtured. However, there will also be times when tea is a pizza from the freezer, we don’t even contemplate getting the book bag off the hook (or the floor), because all 3 children had a meltdown and now they’re sitting in front of the TV eating chocolate whilst I cry because I shouted at them. Does this mean we’re a failure, no longer fit to be foster parents? I hope not…! Reflect on it, learn from it, tomorrow’s a new day.

Most importantly though, we need to be remembering in whose strength we’re actually doing this.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4v13, The Bible

Our strength is from Jesus, not ourselves. We need to always praying, always turning to Him for strength, patience, love, gentleness…for all that we need to do the task set before us.

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Patience

Patience. Patience is a virtue, so they say. And ‘they’ are right, of course.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “He that can have patience can have what he will.” 

A.A. Milne says, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”, says Aristotle.

I know that patience is a multi-faceted characteristic (staying calm in the face of an angry child = patience; waiting until Christmas Day to open the presents = patience), but it is so often associated with waiting. Waiting patiently, implying that we can also wait impatiently.

We’re currently at a time of ‘waiting’. There’s lots to be done during that time, but we’re waiting for a new, wonderfully exhausting chapter of our life to start. In many ways, this is a time to enjoy – time alone just the two of us, a house whose tidiness levels we can control, lie ins at the weekend…and yet I find myself anxious for the next 2 weeks just to be over already.

We’ve been building up to this for such a long time, it feels strange to be so close. I look around the house and think, ‘We are so NOT ready to have kids here!’ (think wires sticking out of walls, stuff EVERYWHERE and tools lying about), but I still want time to hurry along (it would be lovely if the jobs got done too…oh wait, that’s my job at the moment :s) and for our first placement to arrive. I’m not going to kid myself into thinking that it will be sunshine and rainbows – I’m anticipating the opposite.

And yet, excitement (alongside nervous anticipation!) is the overriding emotion. I can’t wait for them to be here!

The challenge, then, is to be waiting patiently. I am yet to figure out what that looks like, but patience will be much needed once they’re here, and so it will be good to have time to be asking God for this particular fruit of the Spirit in abundance😉

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5v22, The Bible

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