Saturday, December 13, 2014

Giving Credit where Credit is Due

This morning after family therapy, as I was following up with our counselor, he mentioned to me that I had an incredible ability to keep my composure as a parent. I've had enough training to know that was the start of an Oreo Cookie, and sure enough that compliment wafer was followed up by the creme filling- the concern that I internalize my feelings. I smiled and assured him that I has several women with whom I could be candid as well as a couple fantastic Facebook support groups that have been phenomenal resources. I reminded him that I was blessed with empty school days to take care of myself and be ready to tackle parenting each afternoon. I don't view family therapy as a forum to pour out my own emotions. I'm still a parent there, and my job is still to be a confident leader of my family. 

This week, our counselor witnessed my reaction to fear. I wasn't pretty. I was barely able to hold myself together in front of the kids. I had a lot of "what if's" floating though my head. Seeing a fist mark on the side of a kid's face will do that to a person. I lost my faith for a moment. That day I struggled with my own knee jerk reaction to protect all my children, and I was very afraid we would be unable to do that. It was my rock bottom, and we called in help to navigate the situation. Calling help when you're in The System is unnerving! After all, these people have the authority to dismantle our family. The week snowballed  in reaction to my emotions, and before we knew it, we were sitting in an informational meeting about intensive services that felt much more like an investigation. My whole week was completely consumed with talking to Children's Division, and as the hours and days wore on, I became more and more frustrated and felt less in control of my family, as if CD was making all my choices for me. I felt an incredible need to set boundaries between us an them, and at the end of it all, I think we did a decent job of standing up for our rights and for our family.

As an adult, I've always been comfortable to be at peace within my crazy. It is truly the most freeing for me to remember that life will always come with trials, and that God is going to keep carrying me through them. I wish that had been my response to the therapist's concern this morning. I tend to think talking about my faith in a clinical setting won't cut it... as if God won't be deemed a good enough outlet for my stress. But there is no way we could be walking through this darkness without the light of Christ. He has carried Amos and I through this maze of parenting experiments, protected the hearts of our bios, and has done wonders in healing our new additions. 

In therapy, Amos and I are commended for these accomplishments, but I know we have had little to do with it. All we've done is seek God's will in our life. I want to do a better job of giving credit to HIM.


Mel said...

I have checked in on your blog for a long time now. I have never been good at posting comments to any blog. Not ever. But, as I read this post, I feel compelled! My husband and I fostered 2 boys for a year before we chose to finalize the adoption. We could have adopted them at 6 months, but our family had not found our groove of happiness at that point yet. So, another 6 months helped us find it. They were 6 and 7 when they came and we had a 3 year old at home at that point. Now, our boys are 7, 9 and 10. After three years, people say they can't tell the difference between our foster boys and our youngest who we have had since birth. The transformation was and still is amazing. One of the boys was considered moderate for highly aggressive anger issues. He put himself in danger a lot. He lost his temper over random things. He hoarded things. His pockets were always full. The other seemed to live a fake life. He faked happiness for days and days and then would explode with emotion. There were highly difficult situations that we could have never anticipated. We felt like we needed to hide at home for the first month or two. Shopping was nearly impossible. Everything was complicated at first. We also struggled to find a therapist that didn't seem to be working against us. Or, judging us. We managed to survive each day. Now, we are so happy and we are the proud parents of three amazing boys. They are hard workers, polite, compassionate, loving. We laugh as a family about the old days because their behavior was so different back then compared to now that it's ridiculous. We are in heaven.

Why are we in heaven?

We are told lots of times by so many people that it's because we are strong, good parents. We are given the credit so much. But, it's not ours to take. Every chance I get, I make sure people know that it has been the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These boys have healed because from day one we have taught them about Jesus. We have read the scriptures with the boys every day. We have related all misbehaviors to the scriptures and the idea of "what would Jesus do?" Whenever things would get bad (like 6 hour long anger tantrums bad), we would try to match the time with long talks about what it means to be loved by Jesus. After a long tantrum, including restraints, we would say, we want to tell you what love looks like. We would just talk and talk and tell stories. It was exhausting. But, the boys began to believe. We told them repentance and forgiveness was real and then we pointed it out every time they had a chance to repent like it was awesome!! We showed excitement and paid attention to moments when the kids would put someone else's needs first instead of their own. They would be rewarded like superstars. We knew they were internalizing when one day I asked my moderate kiddo if he thought he was going to throw a tantrum if things don't go his way at the activity we were headed to. (We talked about old behaviors like they were some other life that they had gladly left behind. So, this question was asked with a jovial tone.). Our son answered on that day, "Mom, I'm not that kind of kid anymore. I like how I feel when i choose to be happy. Besides, that's what Jesus wants me to do."

In short, good job, momma! You are right to give credit where credit is due. What a blessing that you can see it! My only question/advice is to ask if you are being explicit and deliberate in teaching all your kiddos to see it, too?
It's great that you know it, but when your kids know it, they have what it takes to build the testimony that will buoy them for the rest of their lives. My boys hear me tell them all the time how learning the gospel of Jesus saved their lives. My husband and I are just the delivery vessels. We simply opened the channel of communication between the Lord and these boys. The rest is theirs to build and grow in.

I'm so happy for your blessings! Keep up the good work!

Aspiring Foster Mama said...

I'm so sorry for these trials you are enduring friend. God is our outlet and He is enough!!! Prayers your way sister.

Kelley said...

Mel, I appreciate your words so much! I'm thankful that you felt compelled to write them. I have already found myself being more open with the kids when I see God working in our family. It is so encouraging to know that you were where I am, and that you are all doing so well now!

Kelley said...

Your prayers mean so much to me as does Knowing that I can ask for your experienced and prayerful advice!