A Joyful Heartache

In the world of foster care there are so many moments of mixed emotions. It seems as if each moment we have with our littles is bittersweet. The sweetness of many moments are usually tainted by the enemy’s reminder that these times will soon be fleeting because we are not guaranteed any amount of time with our little ones.  It is in these moments that we as foster parents have no idea how to feel. We are so utterly confused on what emotions should be filling our hearts that many times we choose to not feel anything, as it makes the roller coaster of fostering a little easier (so we tell ourselves at least).

Feeling nothing is a cop out I’ve realized I’ve begun to take, especially the closer we get to finding out baby E’s future with our family. I’ve told myself over and over that when I let myself feel it’s only going to make things worse, that the pain is going to hurt too much, or the love is going to feel too real. And truthfully I’m scared. I’m scared to really feel throughout this journey, for fear of my own heart. I’ve managed to go through most of my college and adult years without too much turmoil and I’m afraid of putting myself in such a vulnerable position that could cause so much heartache and grief.

The really tough thing with not allowing yourself to feel anything is that as much as you block out the bad feelings you also block out the good feelings as well. When E cackles from us blowing on his belly or he gives us that big toothy grin when we pick him up from daycare I don’t allow myself to feel those heart melting moments. When he rests his head on my chest as I rock him to sleep every night or coos in his crib in the mornings, my heart feels nothing. The only reason it feels nothing is because of my own selfish desires, because I don’t want to have to feel the pain of what might happen.

The more I write the words onto the page before me, the more ridiculous I truly sound, and I know that. I know that my logic is beyond skewed. I know I’m robbing myself of beautiful moments, but it’s hard opening a closed heart, especially one that’s been cemented shut with no instructions on how to open it.

Although I haven’t managed to feel much throughout the past month and a half, I have allowed myself a few moments to really feel. One of those moments was a few weeks ago at E’s first birthday bash. My in-laws threw a beautiful first birthday party with Josh’s entire side of the family. There was just so much love poured out for E. He was showered with hugs, kisses, and an insane amount of gifts right upon walking in the front door. As he sat there opening his presents I looked around at everyone and realized how much support and love we had been given by these selfless family members. They accepted our decision to foster with open arms and loved E as one of their own, without hesitation. This was the moment that my heart began to really open up to those feelings I had been suppressing for so long.

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Later on that night it finally came time to sing “Happy Birthday” to E. As the entire room gathered around us and him they belted out the words to the traditional birthday song we all know so well. E was mesmerized with the cake and candle in my hands and just stared at me with those big, brown eyes throughout the whole song. Half way through singing I looked around the room and saw these beautiful, loving faces pouring out their energy and time on a Sunday evening just to celebrate this child that isn’t even biologically or legally ours. As I looked around I began to get overly emotional and started to tear up. I began to think what if I would’ve thrown in the towel weeks ago? What if I would’ve listened to the enemy’s lies that told me I was incapable of being a mother? What if E never would’ve gotten the joy of having a first birthday party? Those thoughts that raced through my mind created the most real feeling in me that I’ve had this entire journey. It was the feeling of unconditional love.

The thing with unconditional love is that it isn’t easy. It’s messy, painful, and down right hard. It is the choice to love no matter the circumstances. Unconditional love isn’t something that comes easy for me, as anything that includes pain and heartache are clearly something I don’t readily welcome. That feeling that rushed through my heart the night we sat singing to sweet E is something I so desperately want to feel again. In moments when I’m doubting if I can even keep going with fostering I tune back into the feeling that captivated my entire self and it is what keeps me moving forward. Because I have experienced the joy of unconditional love I now know that the pain isn’t something that should scare me away, because even the worst heartache is still a joyful heartache.

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2 thoughts on “A Joyful Heartache

  1. BAILEY……WHEN LIFE SEEMS HOPELESS …..GODS STEADFASTNESS GIVES US HOPE…..BABY E WAS BROUGHT INTO YOUR HUSBANDS AND YOUR LIFE BECAUSE HE KNEW WHAT GOOD AND LOVING PARENTS YOU ARE AND WILL BE FOR HOW EVER LONG GOD CHOOSES AND SEES FIT….GOD TOUCHES US WITH LOVE AND GRACE IN MOMENTS OF HURT AND UNCERTAINTY….IN THOSE VERY MOMENTS …THOSE FEELINGS FOR BABY E BRING PEACE AND JOY….COMFORT AS WELL AS THANKSGIVING…LET YOUR FEELINGS OF LOVE FLOW BEYOND MEASURE…HOLDING NOTHING BACK….NOT TO BE AFRAID OF THE OUTCOME BECAUSE YOU ARE IN THE HERE AND NOW…..YOU ARE BLESSED…YOU ARE DOING WHAT GOD HAS LEAD YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND TO DO ON THIS JOURNEY HERE ON EARTH….STAY STRONG….DONT GIVE INTO THE NAGGING THOUGHTS THE EVIL ONE TRIES TO DISCOURGE YOU WITH…GOD IS STRONGER….THIS BIBLE VERSE COMES TO MIND (ISAIAH 66:13) THE LORD SAYS…AS A MOTHER COMFORTS HER CHILD…SO WILL I COMFORT YOU…..IN CHRISTIAN LOVE….MARILYN KELDGORD 💞

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  2. Bailey, You have entered into the depth of what it means to be a blood relative parent or a foster parent. To parent is to enter into one of the biggest roller coaster rides life ever has to offer. You are so right, and I am so proud to see you and Josh take the roll coaster ride of foster parenting, because true parenting is not about what you get but what you give. The getting is just one of those little rewards that comes back because you are concerned about the one you caring for verses self. To not feel would rob little E. maybe the only opportunity in life he will ever have to have some one who will create this wonderful and safe environment for him. When I look at Little E sitting in your lap with his cute outfit and his darling little shoes, I think, “How lucky this precious little boy is because he has a mother and father who will love him in any situation, even if he has to leave them.” To love means that we make ourselves vulnerable. Vulnerability means that I am willing to feel, even if it hurts. Keep “hurting” because Little E needs his mommy and daddy right now to do this. I love you and I hope I get to spoil little E in so many ways. I too have not allowed myself to feel because I don’t want my family to hurt if things do not workout. But it really isn’t about us. It is all about the little guy, Pappa Dan.

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