Monday, December 8, 2014

Investing in Us

It had been quite awhile since Jamey and I had gone out by ourselves- even for just a couple hours. Having a foster child changed my feelings about going out and our ability to get away.  First of all, I've been surprised at how (insanely?) protective I am of this little person.  It was fierce from the very beginning.  While I'm very protective of my own children, of course, I found myself feeling it at a different level with him. Even if it was a governmental agency and a stranger forced into the situation- others were entrusting us with another's child.  Talk about feeling like a mama bear.

Of course I was concerned for his physical safety.  I didn't trust to leave him with anyone but Jamey for the first little while. And I even reminded Jamey (repeatedly-you can ask him) that we needed to be even more deliberate about proper supervision to ensure his complete safety.  I know stumbles and scrapes happen, but I was paranoid worried about trip-to-the-ER accidents.  At the same time, I was just as protective of his little spirit- I didn't want him passed around.  He'd had enough change in his little life.  I wanted him to know that I would be there for him- I was not going away.

At least not for awhile.

But life goes on and from time to time there have been occasions when I've needed someone else to watch him.  Two or three times we've need a babysitter so Jamey and I could complete our yearly foster care training hours.  We tried to tell each other that these were dates.  While there were no children to tend to, we were only able to talk in the car to and from the agency.  It was better than nothing but wasn't what we needed.

And then there's the whole issue of who can watch him.  When a child is in foster care, you can't just call your regular teenage babysitter.  Ours are extremely responsible but we understand completely why there are rules in place.  Not only does the sitter need to be an adult but they need to fill out paperwork, have it notarized and undergo a background check which can take six weeks for approval. I was quick to get that ball rolling when he first arrived but six weeks is still quite awhile.

Thankfully, one of our friends is already a foster mom so they approved her quickly.  I also asked my sister and a close friend/neighbor to round out my approved babysitter posse.  The rules for using your approved sitters are different, too.  We're only to use them for a couple hours at a time- for doctor's appointments, dinner out, etc.  If we need longer care, we call the agency and they ask another foster family to provide respite.

So, he's been with us now for almost six months.  A few weeks ago Jamey called one of our dear, approved sitters and we went out on a date.  We dressed up, had meaningful (uninterrupted) conversation, repeatedly had to convince ourselves that it was okay that we chose such an expensive place since we never go out, and lingered over the most delicious meal.

I didn't realize how much I needed that. More than just about anything, keeping connected with your spouse during these years of child-rearing is so very important.  It seems silly but when so much of my focus is on children, I need to be reminded that I am in a relationship with a man and that relationship really is at the core of my earthly life and all my other relationships.  I needed to be reminded that Jamey chose me.  And still chooses me every day.  I needed to be reminded that when these children are grown and gone, we'll still have each other.  We need to invest in us.

So while it may be a little while until we venture out alone again, our recent date will carry me a ways.  This life, as challenging and tiring as it may be is worth the craziness, the diapers and occasional tears over school work because the people in my house deserve the best I can give them. Most of the time that means being here for their many needs but sometimes it means grounding myself by getting away with my partner in this amazing life.

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  1. So much wisdom and honesty in the lines of this post. It warmed my heart. When you give of yourself in such an ongoing way, you must see to it that your cup is replenished or there will be little to give, or the quality of what you give will suffer. This has been my experience at least. Have a wonderful day!

  2. I relate to this so completely. We, too, took some alone time this weekend. It was a much needed reprieve that left us both feeling recharged and focused.

  3. You are so very right in the need to nurture your marriage. The best thing my dear sweet Mama taught me and my four siblings was the need to always keep your spouse at the top of your priorities. She told of the story that when she and my father had finally gotten away from the kids for the first time in ten years, they were driving 12 hours to my father's work conference. The agreed not to speak of the kids. They found they didn't have a thing to say to each other. Eleven and a half hours of silence. She said that was a turning point in their marriage and our family life.
    There was never a doubt in my mind that my parents were devoted, DEVOTED to each other and to our family. That is the solid footing, the bedrock that built our strong, stable, loving family.

    Fast forward another generation and I can tell you that by heeding my Mama's advice and my parent's example, my husband and I are ever stronger in our bond and enjoying our first year of empty nesting!

  4. Investing in our marriages is so worthwhile and still so easy to put off. Even after 32 years, all three kids grown and (mostly) out of the house, and nothing like your foster child babysitting complications, date nights and time away are still something we have to be deliberate about planning and doing. Do continue on this path, it will reap many blessings for you and your children.

  5. Words of wisdom!! Our kids are 21 and 18. Our 21 year old son graduated from college this past May, has a full-time job (praise the Lord) and owns his own home. He went to college locally and lived at home until he moved into his own house 3 days after graduation. Our daughter graduated from high school in May (the day after her brother graduated from college!!) and she started college 2 hours away in August. We went from a household of 4, to "empty nesters" in three months. And it has been a real adjustment. While I won't say my husband was mistreated the past 21 years (grins) I will admit that he took second place to our kids in my life. I have really made a conscious effort to make certain we spend more time together, and that we do talk about something besides the kids. Our marriage is strong and our kids know that. We are blessed. So to all you young mothers out there, I want to encourage you to take the time to make your marriage a priority. When the kids move out, you will be so thankful to know that you still have each other. Blessings from Missouri! Thank you for the beautiful post!

  6. Aww, I'm so glad that you and Jamey had a chance to do this. Really heartwarming post. :-)


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