When I Became a Mom, I Lost Myself... Parenting
This post is dedicated to all of my fellow foster (and adoptive) parents. But not the ones you see with their mugshot on a "breaking news" story (or the ones who should have one).
Remember before when I said I was a single mom? Let me specify - I'm a single, foster mom. My munchkin blessed me in late 2014, but as of mid 2017, he's no longer in foster care (blessings on blessings on blessings!!!).
My journey as a licensed foster parent started in June 2014. None of the training I went through to obtain my license prepared me for the emotional roller coaster that I was about to embark on. Don't get me wrong, being a PARENT is hard work! But, when you add in the foster care aspect to being a parent, "hard" takes on a whole new meaning due to the trauma these precious kiddos have endured.
Read Emily's full story. It echoes the stories of many foster parents.
Parenting a child in/from the foster care system, takes a lot out of you. Due to the trauma endured, we have to support our kiddos in so many ways that biological parents (usually) do not. Regular court hearings. Weekly visits with biological family. Monthly (but sometimes weekly) visits with case workers. Home visits from licensing workers. Visits with multiple therapists (weekly in our home or in their office). Regular training to learn how to better support the needs of our kiddos and to keep our foster parent license active. Constantly monitoring the impact the trauma is having on our kiddos to ensure any services their specials needs require are constantly being advocated for (trauma is no joke and can be difficult to navigate, especially if you don't understand it). Through all of it, we are still loving on them, parenting our other children, being a spouse/partner (or like me, doing is solo), working part-/full-time, and trying to find time for ourselves as we work through Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS).... and that was the hardest part of this journey for me...
I've been a mom for almost four years now and I still haven't quite managed the "finding time for myself" a.k.a. self-care aspect of being a parent. When I said "yes" to that placement call, I was saying "yes" to caring for a little one who needed a safe, healthy, and loving home environment and supporting any special needs they have. However, I eventually started saying "no" to myself. It wasn't immediate, but as my son's special needs required more attention and support from me, I slowly stopped making myself and my needs/wants/goals a priority. I lost myself in being a parent. I stopped socializing. I isolated myself. I stopped maintaining friendships. I allowed myself to miss out on opportunities. I stopped caring for and about myself. And to be honest... I slowly stopped loving myself...
Let me clarify, I DO NOT regret becoming a foster parent.... I just wish I would have made practicing self care a priority!
When I became a mom, I lost myself. That ish will never happen again (at least that's what I'm going to tell myself and work to prevent it from happening again lol). It will take me a bit to get started on my After Gleaux as a mom, because I have to basically change my mindset. I WILL say "yes" to myself!
Note: This post is me speaking for myself. Others may not have had my same experience(s), but my journey is MY journey. Dassit.