Fostering Teens Who Are Surrounded By Weeds

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“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” — Audrey Hepburn

I love gardens. There is something about walking around and taking in the beauty of the flowers and plants. Seeing butterflies and bugs use the plants to meet their needs as well. But one thing I always think about, is how much work went into making these gardens beautiful.

My husband, 2-year-old and I went to a botanical gardens this morning. Our foster teens were at school so we took a family trip just the 3 of us. It was so needed. I kept thinking how much I wish I had gardens that looked like this. Just with my small garden I know the amount of work that must go into it. I thought how amazing it was see other people’s hard work pay off so I can enjoy something beautiful.

Last night, one of our girls reacted to a situation, that caused several foster agency workers to show up. Nothing violent, but let’s just say it was stressful. I cried most of the night. Thankfully, we got it resolved and I think everyone is calm. So this morning’s garden retreat was much needed for my soul.

As my husband and I were driving home, we were talking about how much we would love to have property with a large garden. Then we can use it to maybe even teach foster kids how to grow and nurture plants. I began to tell Steven how I would compare that to them working on their own struggles. That’s when he stopped and said, “this is what you need to hear.” He was right.

Last night, I found myself feeling responsible for my foster teen’s actions. I felt like a failure. I felt like all the hard work I’ve been putting into their lives has fallen by the wayside. But as I listened to my own advice, I realized I needed to hear that. Especially from myself. Here is what I was telling myself.

When we get to the point where we realize we need to start over with a new attitude, lifestyle, and friends we get excited and plant the seed. We add new dirt and water it. We even can see it start to grow in our lives. But once we start seeing the weeds we get frustrated. Once we start seeing the bugs attacking we want to give up. That’s the same way I felt last night. I felt like I had watered the plant, added new soil, gave it plenty of sunlight and STILL it was struggling. I put so much hard work into growing this beautiful flower. But I forgot that no matter what I do there will always be weeds.

These 3 foster teen girls have grown since they’ve been in our home. I’ve seen their smiles get bigger each day. I see them thriving and working through issues. I see them embracing a loving home. But throughout the growth I understand that there will be outbursts. I forgot that growing 3 teen girls will take a lot of hard work. A lot of repetitive weed pulling before I see the fruits of my labor.

I have to constantly tell these girls I love them. I have to constantly sit down with them and help them work through their emotions. I have to constantly referee fights because of how much they argue. It is an endless and tiring process. So when I see outbursts or major shifts I get frustrated.

After today, I reminded myself that I have to expect a lot more weeds. I have to be prepared to pull them as needed. Help them recover when they feel others eating away at their leaves and blossoms. Why? Because this is what I signed up for. This is what it’s like to be a foster parent. I pray one day I will see them bloom to their full potential. But for now, you’ll find me on my knees. Pulling the weeds and praying over their lives.

***I want to thank my amazing husband for all he does for us. I know I write most of my blogs from my perspective. But he is a major part in making these girls grow as well. So please, don’t think I am doing it all. I could not do this without him. ***

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