Fostering

Meh

My kids use the word Meh to describe that blah feeling…

It’s kind of how today feels

You know those days… you just feel irritated by the smallest things…

But you don’t have any feelings about most things…

a comic from one of my favourites Nathan Pyle

It is perfectly summed up by Nathan Pyle in Strange Planet. I just want to go back to bed.

I’m tired of Covid-19. I’m tired of kids who are either struggling with school work or bored. I’m tired of making meals. I’m tired…

The reality of the same thing day after day is wearing on me.

So… what do I do with that?

Remedies for Meh include but aren’t limited to:

  • Get out in the sunshine
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do something creative
  • Exercise
  • Plan something you can look forward to
  • Count your blessings
  • Do something to bless someone else
  • Laugh
  • What would you add?

I am struggling to want to do any of them, even when I know I will be glad to be out of this funk.

Sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads and start doing the things that will make a difference.

I can do this. I have before and I will again. I am aware that this is not true for everyone. Bad days have won for many people.

The other mothers that I do life with have faced different sets of challenges in this season. They have made choices to deal with them. We are all different.

We will continue to be there for each other. The other mother of the children I now care for did not have that. I am aware again today of how hard it must have been for her and for all the others who tried to go it alone!

So tonight I will go out and celebrate a dear friend reaching a milestone birthday! We will laugh together, eat yummy food together and be thankful for all that we have come through. We might even make plans to celebrate the end of this weird season of Covid, cancer, kids moving out, and all the other challenges that have tried to bring us down!

Something to look forward to!

In the midst of the mess

Marny

Fostering

Learning

I don’t know how you feel about Math but I used to like it! I used to be quite good at it. Math makes sense to me! My brain works with numbers. I like the simplicity of knowing that if you put the numbers in the right place in the equation or formula and follow the rules you will always get the right answer! So simple!

My feelings about math are changing as I try to help a Grade 8 student with math. Algebra was never hard for me…so I find it perplexing that it is for him. It seems so simple… follow the rules… the answer happens. Where is the difficulty? Apparently it is not that easy for everyone!

Talking louder doesn’t help him understand. Talking slower doesn’t help him understand. Going over the same point again and again doesn’t help him understand. writing it on a piece of paper… nope. Making him repeat it… nope. I’m running out of tools in my toolbox!! And then we started geometry…

The fact is that you can’t just jump into the middle of math and expect to understand concepts that have been built on earlier learning. My learning happened bit by bit without any interruption. It provided a solid foundation, so I was able to continue to build.

Example of an actual daily math problem for my Grade 6 student

Steady learning provides a good foundation. If you don’t understand basic multiplication and division then algebra is doubly confusing. If you constantly make mistakes in addition and subtraction you wind up with wrong answers. If you try to do the final geometry project before going through the worksheets that teach you how to do geometry, you’re in for a frustrating week! (True story!! Just happened! A whole week struggling to do something he hadn’t learned yet!)

Seems to me dealing with crisis is kind of like that. If you were living paycheque to paycheque in the good times, the bad times will be your undoing. If you were using unhealthy coping skills in the relationships in your life while things were going well you’re probably a disaster in the midst of these circumstances. Trying to deal with a more complex situation reveals where we were no longer learning, just coping!

So do we just need to throw up our hands in despair and declare bankruptcy? Get divorced and give up our children because we’ve realized we never had it all together in the first place? I hope most of you laughed at that but for many people this might seem like the inevitable outcome to the current crisis. It’s not! This can be a wake up call that helps us to realize there are things we need to learn.

As Covid-19 puts new pressure on already fractured systems what can we do? We can choose to hit the reset button and start learning on almost anything. If your finances are a disaster stop and learn. Dave Ramsey has lots of great resources that we have found helpful. If your marriage is a wreck stop and get help! There are great books on every aspect of marriage, as well as counselors, conferences and support groups to help you learn. If you’re a parent, there are so many resources available to help you parent well. It doesn’t always come naturally! Choose to learn. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. We made a commitment at the beginning of our marriage to be life long learners and we have kept that commitment.

A small sampling of the books on my shelf that my family have learned from!

Learning should never stop. Can you tell me one new thing you learned in the last month? If you can’t, you might want to think about something you want to know more about. Preferably something other than Covid-19!!

There is a season of change ahead for all of us. This idea of “returning to normal” is going to be blown to bits. We will all need to learn a new “normal”. The ability to adapt will be a big factor in the days ahead. I guarantee you that if you are willing to learn new things the coming season will be easier for you!

The other mother could not adapt fast enough to her changing situation. It seems she might have been overwhelmed and gradually gave up hope. She had too many barriers to learning. Willingness to adapt is the first thing we need to be successful. All the resources in the world are not helpful if you aren’t open to using them.

So what do you want to learn about in the coming weeks? It can be as simple as trying a new recipe or craft, or as complex as learning a new language. What we’ve learned is that being willing to learn in one area makes it easier to learn in another. As strange as it might seem, learning to knit can open pathways to help you learn to communicate with your spouse.

If only it was as simple as math…

Don’t think it’s too late to change. Choose to learn, choose to adapt, choose to aim for the best future possible!

You won’t regret it!

In the midst of the mess

Marny

Fostering

Taken for granted

As we enter week five of being home with kids and the restrictions keep getting tighter I have heard a lot about what we have taken for granted.

  • stocked grocery shelves
  • kids at school
  • family occasions
  • coffee with friends
  • playing in the park
  • hair cuts
  • manicures/pedicures
  • dinner out
  • travel
  • health
  • sports
  • movies in the theatre
  • the list continues…

When you look at these things you realize just how blessed we have been! So much of how we live is framed by ease and convenience. We have done what we wanted, when we wanted to do it with whomever! And we assumed it was normal, maybe even our right. We often complained at minor inconvenience. Grumbled about perceived injustice.

Covid-19 has changed that for many of us. A trip to the grocery store that gets everything on the list is a blessing. The thought of having to make lunches and get kids up to go to school seems like heaven when we now have them underfoot all day. Those family occasions you grumbled about attending because of timing or location are now longed for. The things we have given up have taken on new significance.

Having Foster Kids at home 24/7 has taken things to a new level as well. Our kids had missed almost two years of school when they came to us eleven months ago. We were on track to finish their first uninterrupted year of school in a long time… connections were being made with peers, academic habits were being established. And then yet another disruption in their lives! We took for granted that we would provide a stable year for them… we were wrong. I wonder how many times the other mother found herself in that same situation.

We could all learn a thing or two from teachers right now (pun intended). Three weeks in and I have a new appreciation for them, not because of what they did in school everyday, I always appreciated that, but because of what they have done in the last three weeks to adapt to this situation. They are still doing their very best to educate students. They have been learning technologies, rewriting lesson plans to be delivered online, figuring out how to assess work and help students… all the stuff we took for granted! Many have had to set aside how they have educated for years and start over… and they are doing it!!

We learn a lot in our Foster Care training about trauma and how it affects the kids in our care. It doesn’t just apply to kids in Foster Care! We all need to understand how trauma and/or disruption impacts us! Find yourself on the chart above and ask where you are and where you want to be. This situation doesn’t have to be all negative. We are all going through this together. Perhaps it will give us new empathy for our kids? We need to be reminded our outlook will help shape whether this is all negative or whether we find the positives and grow.

For many of our kids there will be opportunity for healing as we manage this disruption with love and patience. For them disruption probably meant disaster in the past. They may have watched the adults in their world fall apart when things changed. Their anxiety might be high. We have the opportunity to show them something different if we choose to. It will be messy and we may not feel up to the task, but one day at a time and we can model a healthy way to deal with disruption.

There are other things we took for granted that have now become incredibly valuable.

  • Time at home
  • Rest from all the busyness
  • the ability to adapt
  • the technology to connect
  • the dusty board games you haven’t played in years
  • The backyard
  • The patience you didn’t know you could have
  • The baking you just hadn’t got to for so long
  • Meals around the table with no where to rush off to.

I hope that we don’t just focus on what we are missing… I hope we choose to look at what we have gained! Truly we are safe at home, not stuck at home.

So take it easy on yourself! Breath. Relax. You don’t have to do it all never mind do it all perfectly! You just need be a safe place to weather the storm. Count your blessings. Then count them again. I guarantee there are more than you realize. Figure out what you need so you can be your best in these trying times. You can’t change the circumstances but you can change your response to them!

Learn the technology and connect with others. Video chat with coffee is actually pretty therapeutic when you can’t meet in person. Reach out to others regularly because people do better when they try to care well for others. Find space and time to be alone in a crowded house when you need it. We are all in this together.

In the midst of the mess

Marny

Fostering

Interruptions

There have been some big interruptions lately! Jobs interrupted. School interrupted. Occasions interrupted. Sports interrupted. Routines interrupted.

How are you dealing with it? What keeps you grounded in the midst of all the change and interruption? Do you live in a place of fear of what’s next? Do you withdraw to avoid the next change? Do you worry constantly about everybody and everything? You can choose your response. Looking for the blessings and choosing not to sweat the small stuff can make a big difference as we face the future.

Dealing with change is not my favourite… I’ve shared that before. In the midst of these big interruptions which I feel I’m handling fairly well, the little interruptions are driving me crazy!

I can handle that the kids are home from school… but do they have to ask me something every five minutes… all day… no matter what I’m doing! I can handle that hubby doesn’t have work anymore… but why does his routine mess up mine! I can handle not going out… until I remember this means my favourite weekly coffee doesn’t happen. And for the record… I don’t miss sports at all!!

How do you deal with interruptions?

This is a small glimpse of what children in Foster Care deal with. They live in a space of life interrupted. For many of them interruption is just normal. Their homelife was interrupted. The parenting they should have received was interrupted. School was interrupted. Friendships were interrupted. Then they come in to care and we hope to provide stability for them. But a new home and Foster parents is an interruption. As Caseworkers change it is an interruption. And now Covid-19 has provided yet another interruption.

For our kids interruption has been the norm. They talk of where they lived, the schools they attended, the people that have cared for them so casually. Yet my heart breaks for the lack of consistency. They seem to be dealing with it all fairly well. And yet…

  • Maybe their lack of attachment to stuff is a defense mechanism since they have no idea how long they’ll have it. Owning things has been interrupted.
  • Maybe the nonchalance about friends is a way of coping with the changes they expect to come. Knowing people has been interrupted.
  • Maybe the need for constant reminders about the normal routines is because they’ve never had “normal” routines long enough for them to become the norm. Stability has been interrupted.
  • Maybe the need to know what the next meal will be comes from a place where the next meal wasn’t a sure thing. Nutrition has been interrupted.
  • Maybe they live expecting the next interruption.

It’s also Good Friday. A significant day in the calendar of faith. I think of what an interruption this day was for the disciples. Their hopes and dreams were interrupted. The days events did not fit in their idea of what Jesus was supposed to do. Their long awaited Messiah was dead… They sat in that space for a couple days. Let’s allow ourselves to process what interruption means for all of us. We know from history that Jesus death was followed by his resurrection. That event changed the world at that time. We don’t know what the world will look like after Covid-19. We are living in the days of interruption.

So as we wrestle with the new normal caused by the recent interruption of Covid-19 I hope we all look with new eyes at those who face insecurities as a normal part of life. Count your blessings as you wrestle with interruption because it is new to you! Be thankful for the consistency you enjoyed and let’s continue to hope that better days will return. This season of interruption may have given you a new level of empathy for those who lack the stability you enjoyed. What are you going to do with that new information?

Did you count how many times I used the word interrupt? 😉 Was it starting to annoy you?

In the midst of the mess

Marny