I was lying down as Crocodile slowly fell asleep when I'm really tired of kids needing help to fall asleep (I empathize, I am compassionate in action, but on the inside, man, so tired). I had a wish I could to think "this too shall pass" and we'll be on to a new stage after this eventually. But I don't know that. He's unlikely to be our last kid, and likely future kids will need help falling asleep. Duh. And how many? Maybe dozens.
A strange part of fostering is that our parenting and family life doesn't have a linear path. Most families grow out of stages step by step: infant parenting is done with the last kid, toddler parenting is done, etc. Those little stages kids go through do not seem brief at the time, but at least 10% of you breathes with the relief that it will be over at some point. Some of my friends are moving on to having all elementary-aged kids. Some are wrapping up life with infants. But fostering is different. I don't know if I'm done with the infant stage. Maybe we'll have ten more infants, maybe zero. How many kids will I potty train? I have no idea. Or kids fighting bedtime? I can't quite look ahead to when I can sleep in on Saturday morning as kids get themselves cereal and watch TV. Is it a decade in our future? I don't really know.
Now, we do have some control as we set our age ranges, so if we are done with newborns, we can say we will no longer take newborns. But I know it's not that simple. What if a newborn sibling of a foster child of ours comes into care? I have a sense we are not done with babies, or toddlers.
Sometimes I have to think of fostering of having lots of surprise babies, with the vague awareness that the surprises are coming, but almost no details beyond that. Life can throw curveballs. With fostering, it's all curveballs, and it can be hard to accept that, even if it's the life we've chosen.
Family life is not in our control, but the illusion is strong. Foster care strips away that illusion.