Sometimes you encounter odd situations on the foster (or adoptive) parenting journey. They can take your breath away, deeply wound you, or leave you dumbfounded. We encountered a situation like this recently.
Last night Mike and I met friends for dinner. We share the common bond of parenthood, marriage, church, hometown community and foster parenting. During the first course, we talked about the stupid thing we did as young adults. By the main course, we lamented the ever growing need to monitor our students’ technology and the ins and outs of teen dating. By dessert, our conversation turned to foster care. We shared stories about little ones who haven’t slept in months as well as enthusiastically long prayers given by pre-schoolers at dinner time. We shook our heads at the hard parts and belly laughed at the funny bits.
Often, when you’re in the trenches of parenting children with major special needs, the most important relationship you have begins to suffer. How do you keep your marriage healthy in the midst of very difficult circumstances with your children?
I met my husband 20 years ago this winter. I saw him across the lobby of the student center at our college campus. I hoped he would notice me and when he did I shook his hand and smiled the warmest smile I could muster on that cold January evening. He asked me out a few weeks later and I was excited to get to know him. From that moment on, we enjoyed spending as much time together as possible. We studied at the library, took walks around campus, visited the art museum where admission was free. We didn’t need to do anything fancy. Time together was all we wanted.
One of the biggest areas of our life that pays the price when the journey becomes difficult, is our marriage. How do you maintain health when you’re constantly on overload and maxed out?
We weren’t prepared for the toll that foster care would take on our marriage when we first began the journey 13 years ago. There we sat, in our empty living room, looking at one another as if we were acquaintances and not life partners. We were tired, defeated, frustrated, and drained of all energy. We weren’t prepared for some of the special needs that some of our children had. Because we loved them deeply, we were pouring every ounce of emotional and spiritual energy we had into them.
Over the past 17 years, we’ve discovered that many things create a healthy and happy home. The biggest? Putting the health of our marriage above our children.
It’s usually 8:30 when I give the first warning shot to my two teenaged daughters. At 9pm, I say, “Fifteen minutes till it’s time for you two to head upstairs.” I repeat this nearly every night. And nearly every night they argue. “But why do we have to go to bed at 9;15,” they lament. “We’re not children anymore.”
It’s time to get out of bed but you don’t want to. Ever felt this way after a really bad day, or week? If so, you’re not alone. How do you pull yourself together and get up even when you just want to quit?
The feeling comes in all shapes and sizes, from many different sources. Sometimes, your child is out of control, disobedient, defiant and you are pushed to your absolute limit. Other times, you feel like you just can’t win and that life for every other parent around you is perfect, while you’re struggling to stand on your own two feet. Sometimes it’s exhaustion. You’re so tired you have no idea how you will face another day, let alone make it through the rest of the one you’re currently in.
It happens to the best of us- exhaustion. It’s really unavoidable because that’s just the way parenting goes. In today’s episode, we along with our co-host, Nicole Goerges, discuss some practical ways to overcome the exhaustion bug.
We’re tired. In fact, just hearing the word “exhaustion” makes us want to take a nap. We’ve often said that we’re a grand total of 14 years behind on sleep. If we added our years of parenting to John and Nicole’s 14 years, we’re a combined 28 years behind! We’re kidding, of course, but sometimes it feels that way.
If there’s one thing that pays the price the most in foster care (or adoption), it’s the health of your marriage. How do you maintain the most important relationship you have and care for the children who have been placed in your home?
We stood on opposite ends of our kitchen staring at one another, tired, defeated, and barely awake. The sad part? It was 8pm on a Saturday. We weren’t this tired because we were well into our 30’s. We could have made a great case for ourselves if so. No, this was the work of parenting.
I’ve come to a realization with fatherhood. Mostly, it’s due to my own self-evaluation. For decades now, men across the globe have worked hard to be good dads for their kids. I have too. But is good really good enough?
The world is full of good dads. Really good dads, in fact. Everywhere I look, I see good dads. Dads who coach little league, dads who drive their kids to school, dads who attend school functions, dads who take their daughter to a “Daddy-Daugther dance,” dads who play in the backyard with their family on a Sunday afternoon, dads who take their sons fishing…Good dads!