I was recently asked at a fancy chick-fil-a dinner if I let my children go in the play area.
That person probably expected me to say no because of my openness about my avoidance of germs and I just cannot even handle it.
And I did say no, but not for that reason (well a little because of the germs let’s be honest).
I said no because for approximately 6 months of my life, twice a week, I would drive to chick-fil-a as a foster mom picking up her foster kids from their bio parents. I would park, talk myself out of a panic attack, walk in, see them in the play area, and then wait for them to come out. Not knowing how the kids would act toward me; not knowing if they would run to me and away from their parents; not knowing if they would call me mommy in front of their parents and break their hearts. Not knowing what to talk about. Not knowing what would be brought up.
Twice a week for 6 months.
I can’t even walk in that specific chick-fil-a without anxiety taking over. I avoided it for the longest time (and can’t even remember the last time I stepped inside).
But I don’t talk about those times because it might take away from all of the good (and so so much good came from it).
Because of the people who would then assume we want those kids back (which has happened).
Because people would shrug it off and say I’m using it as an excuse (which has happened).
Because what good would it do?
Well, it was the first time I said that was my reason out loud and you know what good it did? It allowed me to claim that back over my life.
See foster parents are put in this place where we walk a tightrope for everyone, even ourselves. Loving them like our own, but knowing they aren’t. Supporting the bio parents, but knowing once those kids go home they could never speak to us again. Telling all of the good of foster care while shedding light on the hard times too. The tightest tight rope.
And when we do say something “sad”, people tell us we must want them back. When we say something “negative”, then we aren’t supporting the bio parents. When we love them with everything, we are told to “guard our hearts” and “it will be different when you have your own”.
So yes, chick-fil-a playgrounds are not on the radar for my kids right now. First, they aren’t old enough to understand not to put their hands in their mouths or to not touch their faces after crawling in a tube. But second, because the last kids I saw in that playground were mine and then they weren’t. And that playground brings back too much right now. Not just about the kids but about the situation and actual feelings that are buried in my soul.
Will it ever go away? I don’t know.
Will I ever let my kids play in there? Yeah probably when they’re a little older and the flashbacks happen less often.
I don’t know what other feelings are buried in there. But finally, 3 years later I’m acknowledging them and claiming them.
To all my fellow foster mommas, I see you. I see the wave of emotions. I see the roller coaster that you’re on & people don’t understand. And it’s ok. It’s ok to feel all of those things.
Foster care is a journey that doesn’t end when your kids go home. It doesn’t just disappear. It stays with you, probably your whole life. It’s your new normal. And that’s ok too.
#thisisfostercare #fostermoms #fostermom #fosterparents