A word that I didn’t give much thought to until we started Fostering.
def: a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
When I looked up the definition I was hoping for something more profound. Some root word embedded that gave a deeper meaning. But that’s it. Simply a short period of rest from something that is difficult.
I’ve had to ask for a lot of help the past six months. I’m not sure entirely how well the depth of my thanks can be communicated. You know who you are. The ones that watch my big kids for hours. And then do it again. And again. The ones who bring coffee unannounced. The ones that come for free to babysit so Joe and I can get dinner without any interruptions. So we can stay married. The ones who take the girls on weekends so our family can breathe.
But you also know that I keep asking.
And for longer periods.
Like, most recently, for four whole days and nights.
And I have to be honest, I feel utterly and completely selfish every single time.
I don’t know. I don’t have any other way to describe it.
I just feel selfish.
And I’m finding myself angrier the more I do it. The more I ask. The more I rely on you. The more I realize just how much I need it. How much we need it as a family.
I had a conversation with my husband the other day, why did we say yes? Why did we decide to put this weight on our family? On our friends? On our community? It would have been so much easier to say no, we can’t do it. It’s too much. Find someone else.
It feels selfish to have said yes, they can sleep here.
He looked at me a little confused, nodding hesitantly. Like he heard me but thought I was living in crazy town and didn’t want to push me over the edge.
Half of you are angry that I feel this way. Half are making your way through a response as to why I shouldn’t feel selfish. Why you are here to help with whatever we need. How much you love us and support us and “blah blah blah.”
We love you too.
Respite is, well, it’s a breath in the midst of drowning.
A few weekends ago I was able to take three of our kids down on an overnight trip while we had respite for the girls. There was an intense weight that came off my chest as we drove. Like I could breathe, a real breath, for the first time in months.
We had an amazing weekend of laughing and eating and adventuring.
But it wasn’t long before I had to make the drive back up. Racing the clock to make it before we needed to coordinate care. And the heaviness came back. Tearful conversations. The first time in, maybe, ever, that I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to do just about anything else.
I paid for it Monday. Dysregulation in all of us. Eagerly counting down the seconds until Dad stepped off the plane. Still a few full days away.
We have another one coming up. A weekend of respite. Girls one place. Big kids another. Baby in my lap on an airplane across the country.
I am working hard to be grateful and not spend quite so much time feeling selfish. To take the breath. To extend our family circle. To grasp the air. Saying Thank You.
Because, if I’m honest, maybe that’s what I’m getting mixed up in this whole thing. The difference between Selfishness and Gratitude.
So, I guess, in short, Thank you. For allowing us space to breathe but also for allowing that breath to keep happening. To allow us to continue.
and over again.