One morning I woke up and my tire was completely, impossibly flat. My neighbor explained there must be a slow leak. His skilled hands rubbed a little water and soap on the tire. Then he cranked up the air compressor to identify where the air was escaping. After a few minutes he identified the hole and plugged it up.
“You’re as good a new,” he said.
I was stunned. What I thought would be a pricey new tire, was a simple, quick fix for a slow leak.
There were many times I felt as deflated as the tire on my van as a foster parent. I thought the fix would be complex. But over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes my problem is a slow leak that can be identified and plugged up.
I think everyone needs a neighbor like mine. Someone who has learned a little and is willing to share what they know to take care of the flat and get you on the road. While my mechanical expertise is limited, I do have a little experience fostering. I’ve learned that recognizing and being aware of my feeling is key. Sometimes, I just need to open my eyes and realize I need a little fresh air.
Everyone gets filled up in different ways. How do you fill up when you’re feeling flat? What’s you’re quick fix for a slow leak?
I remember the feeling all too well. Paperwork is being processed. Inspections are scheduled. All the while an open heart waits, longing to open doors to a child.
Right now I know a few people going through the process to become licensed foster parents. The frustration and wait can seem unbearable. When your journey is stationary, there are several things you can do.
- Contact family and friends. Let them know you’re expecting… to be foster parents. Some families even make cute announcements. Ask for their support. You’ll need it.
- Shift your mindset. If you’ve never dealt intimately with government agencies, you’re in for a surprise. It was hard for me to adjust my thinking. The legal and social tightrope agencies walk is much different than the business world. Deadlines, protocol, court dates can all be changed with the drop of a hat. If you’re a Type A personality, start shifting you’re mindset now. You’re new mantra will be “I am fluid and flexible.”
- Read about trauma informed care. Maybe you have parenting experience. You might even think you’re pretty good. Parenting children with trauma is different. Know the facts so you’re ready.
- Prepare for the worst. You know the saying, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Seriously, prepare for the worst. The optimist in me hates to go through all the worse case scenarios, but doing this is essential. Caring for babies? Prepare for no sleep and nonstop screaming. Teens? Plan for drugs and runaways. Elementary ages? Think of bed wetting and school troubles. Why? When you let go of Pollyanna expectations, you can be pleasantly surprised when things go right.
- Pray. Need I say more?