Someone here in Jacksonville, FL won the lottery many years back. As in literally won the big bucks. They live in the Riverside area – a beautiful sunlit historic district with homes dating back to the 1840’s. The neighborhood is gorgeous and quaint – tree-lined streets, tons of parks, locally-owned businesses, and charming and unique houses.
The house that the lottery-winners own, though, has honestly become an eyesore. Knick-knacks crowd the windowsills, and stuff spills out onto the yard. At some point, the owners got the house coated with a paint that should last the life of your house. Honestly, paint shouldn’t last forever. It looks weird and plasticky and I can’t help but shake my head every time we pass the house.
The paint – seeing as how it’s everlasting – is still there, as bright and garish as ever. But under the paint, the wood is rotting. The window boxes are falling off the house, drooping depressively. The whole thing just looks sad – the utter excess of the clutter coupled with disrepair.
What the owners aren’t quite grasping is that you can’t just take care of something once and then leave it alone to rest on it’s laurels. You have to take constant and exquisite care of the things in your life – whether that’s a physical thing like a house, a car, your animals, your friends, your children, your partner…..anything in your life that’s worth having is worth taking exquisite care of.
That being said, I’m doing a shitty-ass job of heeding my own advice. Steph has forsaken me and left for an out-of-town work trip. This morning, I found myself trying to wrangle 5 children into the car for the morning deposit of the foster children at child care. FYI – when you have 5 screaming children, you forget to do things like STRAP THE CHILDREN INTO THEIR CAR SEATS. That would be 2 that I somehow forgot. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t constitute taking exquisite care of my beings. I’m also pretty sure I might be an unfit foster parent, but for some reason they’re still letting me do this.
Right now, life is overwhelming with 3 foster kids in the house and 16 month old twins. Often, it’s complete pandemonium, with children screaming, kicking, flailing and generally proving the theory that when children are taken from everything they know and placed in another home with strangers (us) – all hell breaks loose.
In the spirit of not being able to take care of all my beings, I had to call uncle and tell the children’s caseworker, guardian ad litum and placement specialist that WE ARE IN OVER OUR HEADS. Even with all the help we’re getting (we have the best friends and family!!!), I feel like I’m running a child care for about 1 bazillion behaviorally disturbed toddlers. Don’t believe me? Count the shoes below. That’s a bazillion shoes!
It’s just too much. I can’t take good care of all that I’m responsible for. Late last week, we had the big call where I told 7 people-in-authority that we couldn’t do it. It was awful. I felt judged. Like I was the annoying high maintenance foster parent who wouldn’t do her job and leave them alone.
It was embarrassing making that call, but it had to be done.
Because it’s mine and Steph’s job to make sure that our family’s life doesn’t end up looking like that god-awful house in Riverside. Spray-painted perfectly on the outside, but falling down on itself underneath the shiny. Ain’t happening. We care too much about this family to pretend that we are stronger than we are.
We’ll see what happens next with the foster kids….it’s still day by day. In the midst of the hard days, though, I feel like we’re learning a valuable lesson about resolve, care and tenacity. Our family is definitely richer for it.