Last Friday as I leaned against the kitchen doorframe, waiting for my kid and taking my third deep breath of the morning, a thought skipped through my head:
“Can we please have just one morning that works smoothly every once in a while? …maybe glimpse a little light at the end of the tunnel sometime…?”
Wow. I eventually caught myself wishing for that. Both experience and my brain tell me that wishing is simply a waste of time for a foster parent. But the very next day, I was wishing again! This time that we could be early for once without rushing in late.
I caught myself quicker though: We were standing in the back of a school auditorium, and my kid was showing some interest in the summer travel program presentation, even as I was feeling annoyed about arriving late and having no easy seat to reach. I wanted him to know we should have been early. I wanted him to know I was annoyed. I wanted things to have been different. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted. I, I, I….
But there he was—listening to the speaker and then commenting positively about the subsequent video. That piqued my curiosity, and I realized if he noticed my annoyance, he’d start reacting to me instead of the program.
So I had to ask myself: At this moment, which is more important?
- For him to deal with my annoyance, and possibly sour on this program (i.e., me)? OR
- For him to feel supported as he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime (i.e., him)?
Well, my head knew the answer right away—#2. But my feelings took more coaxing, so I asked myself more questions:
Do I want him to argue with me in this auditorium? No. Do I want him to storm out of here? No. Does he really need to understand my needs right now? No. Do I want to look back and regret that he missed out on a three-week international trip so he could learn to be on time? No. Did we really miss anything? No. Do I really want to act this selfishly? No…!
Do I need to be a support to him? Yes. Do I want to be a support to him? Yes. Does he deserve the best parenting I can provide? Yes. Does he already know my lecture on timeliness? Yes. Do I want to be the positive person I think I am? Yes. Is this hard? Yes, but I can do it. What do I need to do? Uhhh… something different…?
Yes…! thank you, Diane Malbin. She’s the person who first recommended Trying Differently, Not Harder, which applies whether a kid is in foster care, is adopted, has FASD, has trauma, or not.
So I took three slow, deep breaths and joined him with positive comments, rather than trying to teach a lesson.
And you know what? I saw a little light in the tunnel… but it wasn’t his—it was mine![hr]