Generosity from Strangers

In November my Insta-Mom status hit a 4 month anniversary, and we were still struggling. Tantrums were high, morale was low, and it was time to start investigating new resources and interventions for Little Man. Out of respect for Little Man’s privacy, I won’t share details, but the behavior issues we were working on were severe, exhausting and at times extremely dangerous.

I was at the Oklahoma Autism Conference one Saturday, and there was a distributor of Young Living Essential Oils sharing her experiences using essential oils as a special education instructor. I texted a good friend of mine who is also a special education teacher who I knew to use oils to ask her if she thought it would help Little Man, and we discovered that my friend was also a friend of this distributor. When I think about what happened next, this small “coincidence” feels more like a nudge of divine intervention. My friend told the distributor about myself and my family. I talked with her about the behaviors and emotions we were working through as well as the numerous interventions and therapies we were already using. She suggested that oils might be the missing piece.

And then she changed our lives. She gifted us with an incredible collection of oils. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I was hopeful about oils and desperate to try anything, but also skeptical–You mean I just put a few drops of this plant juice on my kid and he might feel a little better? It was hard to accept a gift of that magnitude, but we knew we would be goofy to turn it down. The only thing she asked for us in return was to actually use this gift. Don’t let it sit and collect dust. Use it.

About ten days went by from this moment until it all showed up at my door. I had done some research on how to use oils, which would be most beneficial to the kids, how to blend them and dilute them, etc. By the time the box arrived my anticipation far outweighed my skepticism. I opened it up and hurriedly shoved the business materials aside (business materials? I never even used this stuff before–I’m certainly not selling it!) to get to the goodies. There were 11 excellent oils plus one bonus oil, a sleek looking diffuser, numerous samples and quite a few pamphlets, brochures and other odds and ends. I read each label and remembered feeling pretty darned awed by how much hope could live in a 5 ml bottle.

Over the next few weeks I would like to tell you more about how specific oils have helped the kids in specific ways. For now, let’s just say that this has been a game changer. Are we un-enrolling them from therapy and stopping their medicine? Definitely not, but we can tone down the stress when our routine gets out of sync by diffusing Lavender, Joy and Lemon. We can round off the sharp edges of a big tantrum by applying Peace & Calming topically. I can have small moments of self-care throughout the day using oils that smell nice and make me feel great.

The generosity of a stranger improved my family’s life, not for a day or week or month, but forever. These oils are part of our regular routines, or emergency tantrum kit and our self-care. I think everyone might benefit from them, and I would love to pass on a piece of the gift we received to you, including you readers who are strangers to me. If you’d like to give this a try and get a Premium Starter Kit, use the link below. I can’t pay for all of it for you, but I can send you $25 (check or Paypal) to put toward it.

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=10685402&enrollerid=10685402&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member

 

This post is dedicated to Stefanie Barker-Olsen, a generous stranger friend.

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Crying Into The Void

“I have no friends. I have nobody.”

The note is scratched in blunt pencil on the inner cover of an old copy of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Little Man picked this book for his bedtime story tonight, and I see this cry for help for the first time. It’s a second hand book that our foster agency brought over in a box of stuff when the kids were first placed with us. It likely originated in another foster home and was given to the agency when the home closed or the children who were placed there moved on.

And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street is Dr. Seuss’s first published children story. It’s about a boy named Marco whose father asks him what he sees on his way home from school each day. Marco doesn’t see much, just a horse pulling a wagon, so his imagination takes control. He envisions a wild scene of safari animals pulling a wagon with a big brass band, escorted by a cast of fascinating characters. Marco is alone on his walk, but he isn’t lonely. He has pride in his vision and is looking forward to telling his dad about everything he “saw.” My heart breaks for the child who read this story and felt nothing but solitude; the child who whose pain was so secret he penciled it into the cover of an old book.

There’s so much pain in this process. There’s the initial abuse/neglect, the loss of family, friends and familiar things, the transitioning between foster homes, and often the separation from siblings. It’s a heavy burden for little hearts, and no one should face it alone. You could argue that this child was probably not alone. He was definitely with a foster family, and he had caseworkers and possibly also CASA workers, therapists, teachers, etc. But that doesn’t really matter, because he certainly felt isolated. Marco didn’t really see a parade with elephants and police and a man with a 10 foot beard, but that’s never the less what his story is about.

It’s a message in a bottle, a radio transmission into space, a cry for help into the void. This child is out there somewhere, and I wish he could know that I’ve heard him. God in Heaven, let him know he isn’t alone. Across time and space and by lucky chance, I hear him and I love him and I wish him well.

I squeeze Little Man a little tighter at bedtime and can’t help but whisper to him that he isn’t alone. He looks at me like I’m crazy because in this 1600 sq foot house with four dogs, three kids, two adults and one cat no one is ever alone. He whispers back “I know momma. Love you. Night night.”

I can’t know what pain is in his heart (though I’ve got a good guess), but I know for sure that he will never face it alone.

 

4 Beautiful Small Moments Foster Moms Will Understand

I always forget how difficult it is for people outside our immediate family to see how completely beautiful this life with our foster babies is. A lot of it is our own fault. We don’t call our friends and family to vent about the perfect things. We don’t fill out incident reports for all the times we play at the park without a tantrum. We don’t call in specialists, case managers, home visitors and therapists for the lovely conversations that take place at the breakfast table. So, let me be absolutely, unequivocally, perfectly clear: For every tear in this house, there are a hundred laughs; for every minute of tantruming, there are hours of bliss;  for each ounce of struggle, there are a hundred pounds of worth it.

Here are four beautiful moments from our home this week:

  1. We made a friend at the park. Her name was Maura or Moriah or Maria, and she and Little Man instantly got along. She asked if she could use his bubble wand, and he said “Yes, thank you for asking. It’s kind words to ask permission.” They played happily for an hour, checking in with me and Moriah/Maria/Maura’s mom regularly. Honestly, I was planning their wedding twenty minutes into this interaction.
  2. We made garlic bread. This week I finally gave up on keeping Little Man out of the kitchen while I cook. He’s fascinated with cooking and obsessed with helping, so I finally gave in, even though it makes me crazy to have someone at my elbow while I’m working. He brought his stepping stool to his designated work space at the kitchen counter, and he diligently painted garlic butter on each slice of bread. Little Man watched me like a hawk as I put his bread under the broiler, and then he vigilantly kept an eye on the timer. He was very proud at the table to announce that he had helped make dinner as he brought the tray of garlic bread to the table.
  3. Little Man advocated for himself against a bully, and got adult assistance when he needed it. Another day at the park there was a little boy a year or two older than Little Man who had found a gun-shaped stick and was pretending to shoot it. At Little Man. Over and Over. With steam coming out of my ears, I was about to go get involved, but as I approached I heard Little Man firmly tell the other child “We don’t play guns. Guns hurt people, and they aren’t a game. We don’t play guns.” The other child shrugged and ran off. A while later when the other child was at it again, Little man came to me and reported on the toy gun situation and calmly asked for help. This one gave me all the proud momma feels.
  4. The toddler is speaking! Our toddler baby, Little Sister, came to us almost completely silent. She would hardly even babble or make sounds at an age that she should be reliably using 15 to 20 words. After two and a half months in our home and some speech therapy, her expressive language is suddenly blossoming. She can say bubble, hungry, thirsty, banana, dog, cat, momma, daddy, book, ball, love you,  and bye bye. She gets more words every day, and her pronunciation is becoming clearer.

I believe any parent (foster or biological) would be proud of their child doing any of these things, but these instances are especially sweet to us. These are indicators that the kids are feeling physically and emotionally safe with us. These signs that they’re developing powerful social/emotional skills that can help them wherever they are in the future. These are the watermarks that we just might be doing what these kids need from us right now. out-of-focus-playground