In conversation a few months ago with some dear friends, I was rambling on about our latest challenges with our foster son. Life had been taxing around our house with five kids under the age of eight, very little sleep and major behavioral issues with J. We were battling wills with time-outs sometimes lasting close to an hour and many of his actions, while childish, just annoyed me…well, annoyed ALL of us.
Frustrated with my emotions and lacking colorful words to relay my emotional state, out of my mouth rolled this statement: “Hard is just…it’s just not easy.” While profound and elementary, it was the truth,
Hard is just, well, it’s just hard.
On a weekly basis, I hear this from friends and perfect strangers, “I could never do foster care because ___________.”
The reasons people give run the gamut from the logical to irrational, but the one I hear most often sounds like this:
I would just never be able to give them back. It would be too hard.
I normally respond with a touch of sarcasm and a dash of cynicism. But the truth is, YES. IT’S HARD! There are close 700 kids in our state waiting for a family. Easy tasks would eliminate this current crisis.
We don’t often choose hard in this life. We choose comfort, ease and familiarity. But the things worth doing here will most likely carry us away from convenience.
So our family has decided to choose hard.
Hard means we spend less time with our biological children. All four of them.
It means less sleep and more noise.
It means a much messier house!!!
It means hours disciplining and teaching someone else’s child.
It means rearranging car seats-often.
It means mounds of laundry and countless trips to the grocery store.
Hard is using a WIC check without feeling the need to explain why you need to use one in the first place.
It means feeling like others don’t get it. Because they just don’t.
Hard means being woken up in the middle of the night by a 1 am phone call from a social worker asking you to get out of your warm bed and take in a little girl that’s been abandoned.
It means less time with friends and more time at home.
It means court appearances, psychological evaluations, OT, PT, speech therapy, visitations to birth parents and a complete invasion into your home by social workers and home inspectors.
It means saying goodbye. Forever.
And here’s where it gets beautiful…
Hard also leads to unspeakable joy.
It’s comforting an abandoned toddler, who smells like urine, in the dead of night.
It means saying good morning to bright eyes that hold such potential for a changed trajectory on their path in life.
It’s watching a neglected baby learn to roll over for the first time at 14-months old.
It’s watching as your kids erupt in applause when your foster daughter with feeding issues eats a bite of broccoli for the first time…uses her fork!!!
Hard is seeing a birth mom sob every week when she says goodbye to her baby and watching her light up when she is reunited on their new journey.
Saying yes to hard means saying yes to so much more.
You say to me, “I could never do what you do, its too hard” and I know what you mean.
But I know what you don’t…and probably never will.
Hard isn’t easy, but its beautiful.