You worry too much ….

Even as they grow, the worrying never stops

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You worry too much; she says with a laugh…..

It’s not funny to me

But 17 years old, her head full of ideas

No clue of the reality that drives my fears

You worry too much, rings in my ear……

It’s a mother’s job

Get them ready to flee the nest

Prepare them well to do their best

You worry too much; I know what I’m doing……

I’m happy and sad

I want her to soar and not be hurt

Be treated well and not like dirt

You worry too much; it will be O.K……

Too trusting she is

Easily led by so called friends

Who’ll take from her and not make amends

You worry too much; she says with a sigh…….

I know her weakness

Beats herself up at the hint of criticism

Facing into a world full of scepticism

You worry too much I say to her….

Some things don’t matter

It’s the beauty within that shines so bright

Imperfections outside don’t dim the light

You worry too much what people think….

Be true to yourself

Show kindness to others but also to you

Sort the wheat from the chaff and know who is who

You worry too much of material things

They don’t matter

Honesty and truth, integrity and grit

Keep them with you always in your precious tool kit

We worry too much because we care

It’s a battle

It comes from within, deep in the gut

It comes from the heart which is full of love

When…

all we are certain of is now….

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When the buds unravel and unfurl in their splendour

it’s time

when a heart skips a beat and you get lost in loves wonder

it’s time

when a mother first sees you and holds you in her arms

it’s time

when a loved one takes their last earthly mortal breath

it’s time

when the moon and stars shines light in the darkness

it’s time

when the sun’s warm embrace soothes and rests on your face

it’s time

when sadness, hurt and despair are choking and squeezing you

it’s time

and when faith and hope and love collide, and give reason and understanding, it gives power in the now, this hour, this second, this moment in time

it’s time to embrace and endure to look and to listen, to feel and to heal, respect and accept

it’s time

Julia

a time to remember our loved ones on national poetry day and remember the strengths and weaknesses that can tie us together….

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What a fair and curious child little Julia was

Happy to sit and play and dance and gather up the moss

A tall man would come from just up the road

his house so very different, from the house where she had grown

he’d pay her a visit from time to time, she was thrilled for such attention

for a child so young she would notice her siblings got no mention

and as she played in the bog, others around would tease her

still, merrily in her naivety, she wouldn’t let it displease her

sometimes he’d give her a penny and place it in her hand

she’d curl her fingers around it, and wonder about this man

she never quite knew why he came to spend time with her alone

He’d wander from the big house, the one that made the quarry stone

she just a farmer’s daughter tending to their lot

fierce with pride and dignity they took care of what they got

her daddy with his callused hands and furrows on his brow

looked tired and worn and beaten down, his eyes full of sorrow

many mouths to feed he ploughed right on and his eldest daughter helped

as she swept and cleaned and cooked for those, up at the big house

her mother busied daily, keeping Julia close by her side

this little child she loved so much had filled her heart with pride

for Julia was only 4 years old in the year of 1916

unaware of the trouble and toils that came from the Easter Rising

A simple carefree country girl now the only one left at home

Her big brother and big sister, to England they had flown

But still he came, the tall gentleman, and sit and sip some tea

Cautious in how he spoke to her and to her mammy

Polite in his manner, he wore a rather tall hat

Always tipped, then took it off and laid it on his lap

A man with many children, he had a large family

Julia never understood, ‘why does he come see me’

His older son was sent away when he was only 16

To join the British army and has not been back to Meath

Well that was 4 years ago now and though he is very proud

There is something hanging over his head like a big grey cloud

Mammy seems a little sad, when the man comes by to chat

But she is polite and kind to him and Julia is pleased with that

When Julia is only 9 years old the man could come no more

Some say it was a broken heart, but they cannot be sure

Not yet a man of 60, his time had come to pass

No more would he wander down from the big stone house

As Julia grew older it was time to tell the truth

The tall man was her grandpa, yet she didn’t have a clue

Her mammy was really her nanny and raised her as her own

And her ‘mammy’ was her sister where to England she had flown

And later on after that her ‘father’ too would visit

Back from the British Army, he came back home to Meath

Always through a veil of somewhat secrecy

George would visit Julia with his new wife, the Lady

And though she felt quite happy that they would come for tea

It was a reminder of how very proud she was of her strong family

For back in the year 1912 it must have been unnerving

But strength and pride and dignity were qualities they were preserving

The Oscars…..

Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.

I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights.  I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar.  One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win.  So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones

We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world.  When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now.  I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.

This time it is a different story.  This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion.  This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.

We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean.   It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary.  My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again.  How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug.  I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can.   Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.

What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it. 

From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying.  It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers.  Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs?  Others, not so lucky to survive.

This brings me to the Oscars.  What if you get it?  You don’t know if you will survive it.   You have to be prepared.  You have to have your ‘speech’ ready.  You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them. 

Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end.  Whether that is to be cremated or buried.  Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in.  Is this morbid, no I don’t think so.  It is necessary.  Not everyone has made a Will.  Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one. 

Write your closing speech.  Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you.  Write it in a letter.   Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends.  Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech.  Be prepared.  You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win.  You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.

In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve.  Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home.  Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE.   Give them some respect.  If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own.  They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis.  Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.

Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes. 

Press Pause

in these uncertain times we have enough to worry about. The most important thing to worry about it staying safe and well and keeping others safe and well. Worrying about rent, mortgages, businesses etc should not be part of our burden now. I think the governments, around the world should just press pause, from the beginning of march and reboot, when this is all over, so no more debt accumulates, adding to people’s already enormous burden of keeping well.

press pause
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It didn’t seem so serious, not really

Not at first

Everyone carried on as normal engaging with life

Wrapped up in it, in work or family, despair, debt

The rat race

December, a month of mixed emotions

Full of demands, from excitement to dread

Christmas

A new unexpected trend was banded about this year

It was ‘Corona Virus’

We heard it mentioned, but it was ‘over there’

We carried on as normal, in the rat race

Wrapped up in work, in family, in despair and debt

Beware the ides of March!

Now we began to listen to take notice

It was here, it was everywhere

Stockpile, panic buy, carry on

With daily life, with family, work, despair and debt

Spreading, dying, ignorance and fear

Lockdown

Essential, frontline, social distancing, cocoon

Wash, wash wash your hands

Don’t touch your face

Stay safe at home

Get out of the rat race

Press pause

Flatten the curve, it will save lives

Don’t be a fool, ignorance is not bliss

It is fatal

The world is broke, full of despair, fear and debt

Press pause

Take time to reflect.

Connect

With fresh eyes, find a way

It’s about people and love and life

Humanity

The rat race, dead in the water

It’s a boulder, laying heavy on your shoulder

The graves are the same depth

Press pause

When it’s over, when it’s been contained

Let a new contagion begin

A kind one, a helpful one, a fair one

Not one full of ignorance, hate, debt or regret

Press play and begin anew

Wipe the slate clean

Let families flourish and businesses carryon

Without the noose

We are all in the same boat

Let’s not accumulate the entire ocean in it and sink

A new world, a new world game

The human race

Let’s heal the world, play your part

Let our leaders play theirs

Let them lead, honourably, wisely, honestly and fairly

Press pause

So that we can embrace the pause

So we may cocoon and stay safe at home

So we may slow the spread

So that we may flatten the curve

So that we may not put our essential frontline staff at risk

So that our frontline staff may be rewarded for their bravery

Tenacity and courage

So that when we un-press pause

The new world looks like a brighter place

Not full of despair, like in the rat race

I hope they’re not ugly

When ugly is more than what the eye perceives. Ugly comes in many disguises

Authors own…. dancing in the shadows

I hope they are not ugly….

What does that say about me?  What do I mean?  I don’t know really.  When I signed up to take in other people’s children and when I would get the phone call from the social worker asking me if I would take in someone, ‘I hope they’re not ugly’ would always spring to mind.

Rewind to years before I ever became a foster carer but to a time when a seed was planted.  Working on placement whilst studying law, with young offenders in a secure unit I was horrified that they were so young and yet were locked up due to their ‘behaviour’.  Having read their files, I was more appalled at the level of neglect they had received from their significant care givers.  I knew then whose behaviour was uglier. 

Through this placement my path crossed with foster carers, caring for a very pretty little baby girl.  My heart broke.  My 2-year-old was safe at home and surrounded by a loving family.  The seed was truly planted.

When my 2-year-old was 15 I took in my first child.  It was to be for 2 weeks.  Having been given some of the back ground, it was with nervousness, excitement and even a little bit of trepidation that I agreed.  Not only wondering how this would all go, she was also the same age as my 15-year-old, I would try to imagine how she would look, based purely on the information I was given about her circumstances.

In total I have fostered 13 children over the last 15 years and none have them have been ‘ugly’.  But what does that even mean.  Ugly can be determined in different ways can’t it

The dictionary definition is: –

  1. unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance
  2. involving or likely to involve violence or other unpleasantness

At times, over the years, there has been an element of ugliness with regard to unpleasantness, bad or undesirable behaviour.  There have been challenges, battles, disagreements and it doesn’t necessarily come from the ‘child’ who has been fostered.

I have had battles with school teachers, my own biological children, social workers, my husband, family of origin members, my family members and of course, the children themselves. 

I had wanted to foster children between the ages of 0 to 10, because at the time, my youngest children (twins) were 10 years old.  I wanted all of my children to be older.  As I said, the first child which was placed with me was 15, the same age as my oldest child.

As the two-week period came and went, turning into six months, things eventually became difficult during this period of adjustment, for my oldest child felt that her ‘life’ as she knew had been completely changed and taken over.  She had to share her home, her school, her friends, her mum and dad, with this new girl.  There was nowhere for her to ‘escape’ apart from her own bedroom.  It was junior cert year and it was a difficult time.  She felt for the girl and her circumstances, but was that really her concern, she was after all, just a kid herself and didn’t really need that sort of responsibility, did she?   Wasn’t she already dealing with enough transitioning into and through teenage hood?  So at times, it got ugly. The twins however, felt differently because to them, it was just another older sister.  She didn’t impact on their friends, their after school activities or their school life. 

Even now 15 years later, we are in touch with this girl.  Lots of other children have made a way into our lives and most have stayed a part of it too.  Fostering is not an easy task by any means, because there are many different angles, perspectives, personalities, dynamics, challenges and ugliness.  There is however, also a sense of joy, a sense of satisfaction and a sense of hope that you can make a real difference in someone else’s life.  Not only the child that you foster, but actually, your own and your biological children’s life.  It teaches tolerance, respect, understanding, responsibility, sharing, even when they don’t want to and acceptance, even of the ugliness.  It teaches people to grow, to have empathy, and to care, to care enough for someone else, someone who has to deal with the ugly.

To Judge

People say they are non-judgmental, but I think people judge all the time, if only for a while…

Judging……

My grandson turned 5 yesterday. He is a very clever, observant and smart boy. He is definitely in tune with his feelings too. The night before his birthday, he go very upset, thinking that once he was 5, he would no longer be able to do crafts or colour in pictures of spiderman etc as he would be too old. His mother reassured him that not only could he still do his crafts and colouring, but that he would get better and better at it and anything that he did, the older he gets. He was very reassured and of course, believed his mother.

I went to see him on his birthday, well to have a social distance visit with him so I could leave his birthday present in the garden for him. After thanking me, he proceeded to tell me that he been upset the night before his birthday because he thought that he would not be able to colour or craft once he was 5 but that his mammy told him that he would be able to and not only that, but that he would get better and better. I also reassured him that yes, that was the case and that I am now 55 and I can still paint, draw and make things and that I got better with age. He smiled and nodded.

We were both painting at my house about a month ago, I was doing an abstract. He told me that my painting looked like a child had done it! Now thinking back to our conversation yesterday, I am a little perturbed that when he smiled and nodded at me, he was being polite, thinking that by 55 I should be able to paint better than something that looked like a child had done it! I think he may have been judging me!

These are very different times which we live in, especially the last few weeks and it is having an impact on everyone, all ages, across the world. This sensitive 5 year old picks up on everything around him and he is alert to everything in his environment and the people around him.

Last week he and his mother were having a chat which lead to how he views the family around him and it goes something like this:-

Nana L – drinks tea

Grandad L drinks champagne

Nanny M smokes

Grandad J builds

Nanny C Judges (means bosses everyone) 🙂

Grandad K works all the time

Daddy drinks cans of boost

Mammy drinks milk (no I don’t) she says

Jess watches Netflix

Jake says cool stuff

Uncle D gives out to B every day!

Aunty S tells C not to tease

Little J goes to school

and S…. poos

Well, we did have a giggle. Out of the mouths of babes hey. Well me being Nanny C, I took a little time to reflect. Am I really ‘Judgey/ bossy’? Well, yes I guess I am. It’s not the first time and I don’t think it will be the last time that someone will say that to be honest

I Judge EVERYTHING, straight away, and I am not ashamed to admit it. However, I am not the only one. You do too! People like to say that they don’t judge but, we all do. You are judging this piece of writing right now. I first wrote this in a notepad in a beautiful leather bound case which I bought in a shop in Dingle. I judged it as soon as I saw it, thought it was beautiful and bought it. Others may have seen it and thought it was just OK or too expensive, that would be their judgement on it.

The dictionary definition of to judge is:-

to form an opinion or conclusion

We all form opinions everyday, from the weather to what to wear, eat or how people interact with each other etc, etc. The dictionary definition is to form an opinion OR conclusion, not necessarily both, at the same time. In my defense then, I would say that when I form an opinion I do not always come to a conclusion on something, that there is room for manoeuvre. For example, lets take the weather. I may say ‘I don’t think it will rain all day’. That is not a foregone conclusion, merely my opinion. A meteorologist may be able to put me right, given that she/he is more expert in the field of weather, but even experts sometimes get it wrong.

I mind this particular grandchild 3 days per week whilst his mother is at work and sometimes at the week end too, until she gets back from work. He spends a lot of time with me, in usual circumstances, at this moment he is locked in at home with his mammy and loving every minute of having her home! He has been known to call me mammy 2, in the absence of mammy 1, but mammy 1 is his absolute number 1 person in his life I might add. As much as I love him and my 3 other grandchildren, I am known to somewhat spoil them more than I did their mothers when they were little. That is a grandmother’s prerogative is it not? Having said that, I still have to ensure he is ‘fed and watered’ properly and nutritionally first. I also have to ensure he is ‘bathed and bed’ by a reasonable hour, so I can absolutely understand his view of me as being ‘bossy’.

Also, I still have two teens in the house and boy oh boy do they test my patience at times. My little 5 year old is often a vicarious party to the conversations which go on between us plus the fact that they often have to be coerced, encouraged and told what to do and how to do it by yours truly, moi! Hence, of course I am a bossy boots.

I would imagine he has taken in a great many of the conversations we have had regarding, teens, indulgent and otherwise, boys, clothes, and make up styles to name but a few. Make up, especially seems to be a regular topic in the house in that I see lots of people contouring their faces to within an inch of their lives. Making themselves look like drag queens with the over made up eyes, lips and enormous eyelashes, that a bird could build a nest in. Then of course, there are the eyebrows and the shiney noses. Who really in their right mind wants to look like Groucho Marx about the brows and Rudolph with the ‘shiney nose’. Girls, put down the high lighter and step away from the brow pack…. Dont you know you are to only enhance what you already have, not recreate it with a pencil! See there I go again with the judging.

I started this piece by saying my 5 year old grandson is a very clever, observant and smart boy. I have judged him correctly on this occasion, not only is that my opinion it is also my conclusion about him. I also observe that he too can be a little bossy at times….. he must take after his nanny C.

In conclusion, however, to his list, when I am no longer ‘actively’ parenting or childminding grandchildren, I propose to be more like grandad L, and drink Champagne…..

When I look at you

What does Autism look like to you….What does normal look like to you. Here is what it looks like to me

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When I look at you what do I see

I see a boy, born to be free

Free from stares, or funny looks

Included in games or reading books

I see a boy, who plays alone

whether in school, or at his home

A boy who knows when to ask

even though, it can be quite a task

A boy born special, with words in his head

If only they’d come out of his mouth instead

A boy that is patient, handsome and kind

Yet all too often, we have to remind

those that don’t know you, or understand

non verbal is not the definition of you

There are many things that you can do

I see a boy, so clever and brave

inquisitive of mind, you don’t misbehave

I see a boy who gets frustrated and sad

Sometimes with the world you may feel mad

I see a boy who defies the odds

gets on with the challenge and carries the rods

I see the boy willing to learn

no matter the difficulty, knowledge you yearn

I see the boy watching and waiting

hoping the people will stop their berating

Not all people are born the same

I see the boy who will change the game

of life how we see it, being ‘normal’ and all

it depends on whether, you throw or catch the ball

Normal to you is to watch and observe

hoping someone will have the nerve

to stand beside you and see the boy

not the Autism, that’s just a decoy

Look beyond the stims and the unique ways

sit with him, make his day

I see the boy who doesn’t want to pretend

Like, you and I, he just wants a friend

Don’t be afraid to look inside

No need to ignore, walk away or hide

He is just a boy to be understood

His heart is full of all things good

He may be shy or a little afraid

but please don’t exclude him

ignorance is man made

I see a boy, who is often alone

like the heron waiting, yet he never moans

in silence he sits, amusing himself

The kindness you show him, is worth all the wealth

so please be ‘normal’ and show your good grace

it will be worth it, to see the smile on his face

What’s normal for you is different than mine

and kindness will win, time after time

 

 

for Joseph, with love……. (and everyone else on the spectrum)

Photo Authors own, taken by the River Slaney, Enniscorthy

 

© carrie sherbourne and Relay shun sips – itsjustnoteasy.com Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carrie sherbourne and itsjustnoteasy.com Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

want to break free ?

from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?

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We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships.  We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to.  Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest.  Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied.  We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends.  We learn from each other.  We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing.  We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat.  To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open.  To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations.  After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.

Sometimes though, it can all become too much.  We are but one person.  In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED  relationships.  We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value.   We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete.  This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed.  As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’.  One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’.  It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed.  We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves.   It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.

Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo,  it can adapt to his new surroundings.  He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time.  Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured.  He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence.    His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct.  They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out.  Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.

We are the same.  We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met.  We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society.   We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own.  Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive.  However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’.   Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours.  We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be.  For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose.  We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to.  We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy,  our peace, our inner calm and ourselves.  If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!

 

Picture authors own taken at Fota Wildlife Park.

 

 

For love nor money!

When people are in crises, when they just can’t cope or chose to put their lifestyle first, who pics up the pieces, who takes care of the children caught in the crossfire and why?

adult aged baby care

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It really grieves me to see so much antisocial behaviour, manifesting itself, usually through, but not always by, alcohol or drug abuse. Sometimes it is just a lifestyle choice, beginning perhaps as a dare, to seek a thrill, to feed a habit, to be cool or to fit in. Sometimes it’s learned behaviour, if a child grows up in that type of environment and knows no better. Sometimes a child will ‘act out’ because of the environment that he/she comes from. Whatever the reason, there is often a ‘child’ involved, affected or impacted, somewhere along the line.

Often these children find themselves in the #foster care system, either because they are out of control or they have been neglected, due to various different circumstances or that their parents, simply cannot cope. It is not an easy job being a parent. I would say it can be one of they most difficult and demanding jobs ever. I speak from experience. It is a job that requires 100 percent commitment. There is no day off. It really is a 24 hours per day for 365 days per year, for at least 18 years, but in reality, beyond the 18 year old thresh hold. Being a parent means, to a certain extent, you put your own life on hold. Your children come first, meeting their needs, come first. They depend on you to be a good role model, they depend on you to keep them safe, they depend on you to reel them in, when they go too far. The need that, even when they think ‘they know best’. They depend on you to guide them, they depend on you for everything!

Throughout the ‘children years’ there are different stages of challenges, between the sleepless nights, the teething, the terrible two tantrums, the stamping of the feet, and of course, the ‘piece de resistance’, the teenage years. None of it is easy, but we do it, we do it the best way that we can. Along this path of parenthood, there are other challenges we have to deal with, such as if our children have friends, if they are good friends, if they are kind and caring individuals, if they are easily led, if they have any health issues, if they have any special needs, if they are prone to being bullied, if they are a bully. The list goes on and on and on. Still, as parents, we do the best that we can, to love, protect, advise and keep them safe. It can get pretty messy at times, it is not all plain sailing. There will be arguments, tug of war, a battle of the wills and an outright hatred (particularly during the teenage years). Parents are supposed to be hated during this time, right? Parents are supposed to hate the back chat, the disrespect, the laziness, the moods etc etc. Still we carry on. We plough through the sea of emotions, we battle on and mould and shape our off spring to be good responsible people, to set them free into the world, and hope we have done a good job, prepared them well and have them ready for adulthood.

Being a ‘foster parent’ requires all that listed above, plus you have many other tunes to dance to. The children are not wrapped up in a blanket delivered by the stork. They often come in the shape of a 2 year old or 10 year old or 15 year old. Full of fears. I would too, if I had to go live with a bunch of strangers. They come with uncertainty. They come with behaviours. They come with attitudes. They come with attachment issues. They come with all sorts of challenges. They come with social workers. They come with family of origin, somewhere in the picture. They come with spite. They come with attitude. They come with someone else’s genetic makeup.

Taking a child into your home, into the heart of your family is not always easy, for anyone. Your own biological children may not want to share their home, their parents, their siblings. their toys, their friends, their everything. There may be a reason the child doesn’t like you or your children or your home, your pet, your food. You may not particularly like them after a while, a behaviour they are displaying or something deeper that you cannot put your finger on. This is all within the realm of taking care of a child that is not biologically yours. What do you do?

Thankfully, in my own case I have ‘liked’ all of the children I have looked after. Thirteen in total. I have even loved them. Don’t get me wrong, there were challenges, there were sleepless nights, there were clashes with my biological children, there were attitudes. There were scary moments of self harm and mental health issues. There were flight risks, as in running away. There were schooling issues, there were issues of dishonesty, there were issues of spitefulness. There were times I feared I could not continue to do this any more, it was all too much to deal with. So what did I do. I prayed. I prayed to God to give me strength to carry on. To find a way to manage everyone. To manage behaviours. To help me to continue to support all the children. To help me to mind myself in amongst the madness that it could often be. At the end of the day, they needed to be loved and supported. Some children come for just a short time, a few months, a year or two and then they get to go home. I consider that a success. I am happy for them, even though they take a piece of my heart with them. They are where they belong.

Others stay longer, sometimes forever. They can never go home. They are the ones that you hope you can mould more, support more, because you have more time with them. More time to help unravel them, soothe them lead them, love them, advise them, show them. Be a role model for them. There have been times, that it was very difficult, but here I am, still doing it, still loving, protecting, supporting, advising, hoping above hope, that I, and the rest of the family, have helped to make a difference.

The children become part of the family, bit by bit, challenge by challenge, pulling and tugging, laughing and loving, they fit in, they belong. Some people wouldn’t do it ‘for love nor money’. Why did I do it? I didn’t do it for love nor money either. I did it because I felt someone needs to help look after the children that need taking care of. I guess it feels a little like asking a priest or a nun or a doctor or nurse, why they do it. It is kind of like a vocation. I think if people did do it for money, they would soon give it up, because, well, there is no money to be made that could compensate for the time, the effort, the highs and the lows that go with being a foster carer. If you think you would like to do it for the money, think again, become a child minder instead. Those children go home at the end of the day. You don’t have to deal with their families, their worries, their behaviour, social workers, police, doctors, teachers or other such challenges. Being a foster carer should be considered because you are committed to genuinely helping and supporting a child during a very difficult time and help transition them, either back home, or into adult hood, a much stronger person, than when they first arrived on your door step.

There are some children that are lucky enough to be in foster care with their extended families, this makes it less terrifying for them. Unfortunately, not all families will do it for love nor money. I can tell you it is challenging, but it is rewarding and if you feel you have the time, the commitment and the determination to see it through, to help make a child’s life better, to help steer them from anti social behaviour, to help get them onto a good path, so that they can have a good and reasonable life, full of hope, responsibility and dreams, then go for it. Do it, and if you are doing it, but finding it a struggle, pray. Pray to your God, to help give you the strength to carry on. The children need YOU.

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