My one-on-one time with Cricket started great. It was wonderful to just play with her and focus my attention on her, give her all the turns for dumping ingredients into the granola, etc. I've been letting go of trying so long for a nap, so she was mostly cooperative and sweet during her non-napping "resting time."
Then it started. It started with a visit with her dad. She hadn't seen him for a long time, and I don't know whose story to believe about that background. But she was seeing him today, and she was having none of it. I had to do one of those hard goodbyes that will stick with me. Then she had a visit with her mom, then I picked her up. She was doing surprisingly well, and I hoped that miraculously we were getting through this especially rough patch of a week.
Then bedtime was full of extended screaming, battles, feeling like I was failing her.
Then 1:30-4:00 am was full of extended screaming, battles, feeling like I was failing her.
Then 7:30-8:30 am was full of extended screaming, battles, feeling like I was failing her. We just picked up where we left off when she woke up.
At 8:30, I had to drop her off with a sitter so I could go to a meeting at church. I'm a small group leaders, and we were having one of our regular meetings of the leaders together. I've been frustrated with some things in leading our small group and had hoped for a lot of help at this meeting. As different people spoke or prayed, I started tearing up uncontrollably. I took a bathroom break and hoped I was done. But when I went to talk with an elder about my confusion and frustration with leading our group, the dam burst. Here I was, sobbing uncontrollably, while everyone else was having small cheery practical conversations around me. I somehow communicated that my sobbing was not about small groups, but our lives as a foster family, and having adopted a child from foster care, he knew where I was coming from and patiently (if awkwardly) waited. I'm going to have to swallow some pride to look him in the eye tomorrow, because crying like that is just humiliating. But finally, I caught my breath, and I could express what I wanted to say about being a small group leader.
And what I needed to say is that I am depleted. I don't have any energy left for organizing. I don't have any energy for following up on that e-mail that really needs followed up on. I have passion for what I do, but I can't tap into it right now. All the urgency in our family life has me feeling sucked under the water, and this church ministry is another force pulling. The responsibilities and my failure to meet them tugged me down on a daily basis.
It's time to let go.
It's time to let someone else lead.
Thankfully, his response was wise and encouraging. I'll step down tomorrow night when we meet and ask everyone to pray about next steps for the group. I know in the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal, but I clung to the hope that I could just get past these difficulties if I pushed forward. I'm not the person who needs to strip away responsibilities. I have passion about this! I am needed for this!
But God can do His work in this area with someone else while we are doing our work with Cricket and other foster kids. I need to keep my eyes above the waves. As I drove to pick up Cricket, Oceans by Hillsong United came on the radio, a song that I've clung to in our year and a half-ish of foster parenting, and I shed a few more tears. I shouted at God, is this really all for my faith to get stronger? That doesn't seem like a good enough reason! Please, please send someone else who will heal Cricket, who will know what she is doing, who isn't so immediately overwhelmed again even after the moments of hope.
A bit self-centered and all about me, but there it was, the honest cry of my heart.
The day went on with more pain and sorrow and some breaths of peace and joy. Some more failure and a few steps forward. It also seemed like my online communities of foster care were aching with failure of one type or another. On it goes.
Foster parents fail.
Bio parents fail.
CPS and agency workers fail.
The system fails.
Christian leaders fail.
God never fails.