I am not normal. My "family" is anything but normal, with three foster kids of various ages, a 2 year old that gives new meaning to the phrase "terrible twos", and the whole slew of service providers that we have to deal with on a weekly if not daily basis.

I have to wonder what people think when they see us out and about and C is screaming his little brains out over nothing in particular. I know most people assume that these are "my" children. Do they think that perhaps I spoil him by holding him when he is crying? Or that he is spoiled at home, obviously, otherwise his behavior would not be so horrible in public? Do they think that I beat him and that is why sometimes he doesn't want to get in the car to go home? Do they shake their heads at this "young" "mother" who appears to be in over her head?

In our church when a child is crying for his or her parents at Sunday School, they are normally told "Your mommy and daddy will be back soon" or something along those lines. I will never forget when one two-year-old responded, "My daddy is gone!" and another replied to him in a somewhat snobby tone, "I have a mommy AND a daddy". The first two-year-old had tears come into his eyes and he said "Well I have a mommy!" I know/knew nothing about this family, perhaps the little boys' daddy died, perhaps he just wasn't in the picture and he was being raised by a single mom. He has moved up to the three-year-old classroom but I still just can't help but smile at him every time I see him. But it just struck me on how the simplest things that we always say to kids can break their little hearts when they are from less than "normal" circumstances. Working in a classroom with 30 two-year-olds, some of which come and go or go to different services or whatever, it's almost impossible to keep track of what each one's family situation is like. I even had one of the other workers ask me last week, as C and I were leaving, "Is he your son?" He is not. And I kind of thought that was common knowledge. But whatever.

When I take the boys anywhere, I am referred to by other people as "mommy" - "Are you helping mommy today?" etc. I don't know if the boys pay attention to this or not. I hate going to the doctor and they ask "When was the last time _____?" and I have to respond "I do not know". Or "Are they allergic to any medication?" "Um...not that I know of?"

Then there is my whole parenting style (which I am still figuring out). I kind of like just hanging around the house. I mean of course we still go to play dates and whatever else. But I totally don't mind just hanging at home all day. I like taking the boys outside and letting them look for things to play with on the ground, like sticks and rocks and bugs and leaves and weeds or whatever else they can find. OK so maybe I don't like the bug part so much. They see things as interesting that as an adult I would never even think to look at or touch, and it is neat to watch them. But I just don't feel the need to get them in all kinds of planned activities or anything like that. Sometimes it makes me feel lazy. Or like I'm not doing enough to further their learning and growing as human beings. And also there is a part of me that is afraid to take them places because of the wrath of C. It's just easier to stay home sometimes. Sometimes he has bad days, sometimes he has good days. On a bad day I just try not to leave the house at all because all it does is frustrate me and everybody else. Even a good day can turn bad in the blink of an eye.

Then there are the discussions. Breast feeding? Yeah, I have nothing to contribute. I'd love to do it but just don't see it happening any time soon! Nutrition? I try to feed my kids stuff that is healthy, and stuff that is fattening, and sometimes they eat junk food. Not a lot to contribute there. Teething? I'm still learning about this. Cloth diapering? Not doing it, and never will as long as I have to co-parent because it just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, especially when they are as old as they are. Children doing anything in the first year of life? Never experienced it. I have no idea when they started sitting up, rolling over, pulling themselves up, sleeping through the night. I don't know when C started talking, started walking, what his first words were. No idea! What things do I "need" to care for a baby? I have no clue; you tell me! Sign language? I taught my kids three signs - food, more, please. I have been trying "cup" but he just gives me that blank stare. That's it. We get by OK with that so far. Discipline? Yeah I can't spank, or use any kind of corporal punishment. So the discipline I use has been decided for me, for the most part. Potty training? C doesn't want to, and I have no desire whatsoever to start working with Y on sitting on the potty; it's all I can do to get C on there on a semi-regular basis and he still hasn't actually used it for what it is for!

Sometimes I would really love for my little "family" to be more normal. Maybe someday we will be, but for now I shall try to be content with our version of "normal" which is not so normal at all.


  1. Well, your second-to-last paragraph as all of yesterday's conversation topics pegged!

    I struggle with what to say here - although I know this is Brynn letting her feelings flow out of her finger tips, not some plea for advice.

    I want to sympathize with you- but at the same time, I recognize that your situation is so very different than my own. It would sound nothing less than half-hearted for me to liken my own daily struggles with yours.

    I want to be able to sympathize with you, but I can easily understand that I have no idea whatsoever the gravity of the challenges you're facing.

    It seems as though the foster care program has plopped you right in the middle of "the childhood game" - while we got to start at the beginning. Not fair, to say the least.

    I don't know how to help, (heck, oftentimes I don't even know what to say) but I WANT TO!

  2. It's OK! I'm not looking for sympathy. Really. :) And I don't mind listening to other people chat about things that they have been through or whatever - after all, I might need this information someday, you just never know! :) But sometimes it is frustrating to just have nothing to contribute. And sometimes it is weird to be the only one that's like "Yeah my caseworker is being a ding dong" and no one can relate at all. But I so appreciate all of the help you and your friends have given me over the past few months. And I appreciate being included in your group and getting together with you guys.


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