I've now lasted two months as a personally-selected foster Mom to a 15 year-old boy. He asked, I prayed about it, and I think God said “yes.” Why am I bringing this up? I don't know. And that brings up another point: I have realized these days just how much I don't know. It's so super easy as a single person (and this is such common knowledge that I know it's trite, but I'll say it anyway) to see how others raise their children and say, “What a rotten job they're doing, I would Never have children like that.” Until you find yourself in that role of trying to predict the unpredictable. Of facing odd silences and wondering if you said or did something to offend. Of wracking your brains and your heart trying to figure out how to teach things like respect, gratitude and responsibility without making someone feel small or humiliated. Of trying to teach ANYTHING at all without making someone feel stupid. Do I teach anything, or do I just shut up and love? What about when he comes home waaay too late from school, doesn't listen when you call and has that look on his face when asked to wash the dishes once in two days... after you've started cooking 6 days a week, looking for likes and dislikes, and have yourself washed a pile more dishes than normal just because you now can't eat bread and eggs three times a day? After you've given up freedom and a self-oriented schedule, stayed up late to make sure he ate when he got home from school at 10pm, only to wake up again at 3:30am to get ready for the radio program at 5? Invested money, time, prayer and as much love as you can possibly pour into someone, only to be met with ingratitude, rebellion and indolence?
Sometimes. And other times he opens his heart and pours out confessions of past sins, future hopes and present dreams. Or when he prays daily for your parents and Gram because he knows she fell and broke her hip. When he grabs the broom and sweeps without you telling him. When he accidentally lets your backpack slip from the back of a motor car, and your laptop gets run over, and he tells you with tears in his eyes that he wishes it'd been him under those tires (believe me, I knew he'd had disciplined himself enough in that case, and it was a great chance to show him unconditional love and forgiveness... though I confess in the first 3 minutes after I found out, my heart went through the mourning-anger-blame process as quickly as it possibly could, begging God silently for grace and the right response). I wrote in my journal this morning that I feel over-worked and under-appreciated... and then I laughed out loud. I think that most Moms of teenagers may possibly feel just that way. Parenthood. Even temporary foster-parenthood... what a beautiful mess.
Maybe this is why the sunsets seem more vibrant these days, the stars a bit brighter, the birdsong a little sweeter and my other worries or disappointments a little duller. Having something or someone to give to, beyond yourself is a very good thing. Especially if that someone is close enough to live in real relationship and not a convenient “when I feel like it, we can hang out,” sort of deal. It keeps you real – or points out your hypocrisy very quickly. Busy neighbors, fair-weather friends, and possible cardboard cut-out suitors on e-harmony aren't as helpful when it comes to that. So I admit, I'm bursting right now with gratitude to God for this sometimes-laughing, sometimes-jokey, sometimes helpful – and sometimes sullen boy who has been lent to me for a season, however long or short that season may be. And if you're reading this, I admit to being extra-eager for your prayers.