This period has always been a time of deep contemplation for me and many who follow a Pagan path. It is a time for hibernation, solace, meditation, reflection, and deep peace. A time for renewal, regeneration, and rebirth.
This year, we have decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of our very busy lives. We have a new child living with us as of yesterday and we are taking this time to renew our commitment to our family.
We moved to the country to live a life of peace. What we have found, often, despite our best efforts, is that the realities of foster care and adoption do not allow for that.
We discovered that between doctor’s visits, weekly counselor appointments, tutoring, Foster Family Agency (FFA) social worker visits, Child Protective, Services (CPS) visits, licensing, Independent Living (ILP) visits, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) visits, family visits, court dates, teacher meetings (we are still required to do our homeschooling through an independent study program at a Charter school), and music lessons, horsemanship, swimming, etc, we had over 104 appointments a month for these four children scheduled next month alone. During a month that they are off school for 2 of the 4 weeks.
We are frequently told to “normalize” their schedule and ensure that they have a regular routine but it is impossible to have a routine when everyone has to hop in the car 22 out of 31 days in the month and drive an hour into town, sometimes for just a single appointment.
How are they supposed to learn? When are they supposed to learn?
When are they supposed to have time to bond with us, when all we are to them is a glorified limo service for CPS?
So, this point forward, until the next learning period begins, we are spending every non-appointment moment, working with the kids on what matters, family.
They are getting a break. They will read and journal every day. They will do chores every day. Then we are spending time together.
We are still working on meditation. Though we have gone from about 30 seconds to 5-10 minute sessions. An impressive feat for our 5-year-old and our 7-year-old.
Now, when they need time to “chill out” they can usually identify that for themselves and they are able to tell people how they feel about things without being as frustrated as they once were.
Our newest child will get there one day too. We are sure of it.
We’ve included daily yoga into the routine and the kids beg us to do it more than once a day.
We do chores every day, feeding the goats and other animals, cleaning out the pens, gardening, working on projects and around the property. Simple things.
Gradually, they are coming to love it.
At one time they told us they hated being farm kids. We’ve even heard them say they wanted to “run away and never come back.” As foster parents, we expect that from every child we take in. We’ve had over 20 kids so far in just two years, most teenagers, it is a normal response to being taken from everything you know and love, then being told to love someone completely new.
Now, they love being here. They look forward to the day our baby goats are born. They want to learn about every plant, every animal, every track they see on our hikes. They want to hear about their future in our family. They want to hear a story every night, once upon a time they fought us, they ignored us as we read to them.
At one time they didn’t know how to play pretend, and now, when we play Pooh Sticks at the creek, they imagine small pirates battling each other from the bow of their “ship” and they play Tarzan as they swing from the rope swing into the swimming hole below.
These things will come one day for our newest addition as well. We pray, at least, that they will.
This life, this place we have built for them, can be healing. It is gentle, it is slow, it is steady, like the slow incubation and renewal of winter’s cool embrace.
They hibernate here. They regenerate. They rebuild. And one day, they spring forth into the world like new buds on a tree and spread their leaves to the sun …