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© Gail Underwood Parker

Friday, July 31, 2009


Yikes, I just scrolled down and realized that somehow the opening of yesterday's blog about leaky faucets didn't come through. Don't know how I messed it up, but it certainly makes the post confusing.

I am going to try to reload it WITH the opening explanation and then repost, so if you were confused by yesterday's entry, go back and see if it makes more sense now. Sorry 'bout that!

Stepping past doubts

This morning I booked my flights and hotels and paid my registration fee, so I can't back out now. I am going to Nashville, Tennesee!

Quite a while ago I found a Florida organization online named Daniel Kids that works with foster children. When I saw they were doing a national conference on independent living for kids coming from care I was intrigued. My support people encouraged me to apply to do a workshop on the independence notebook I created for and use with my kiddos. Long story short, I did apply, they accepted the proposal, and now I am actually going! With the mouse click that confirmed my ticket and hotel I of course began to get the traditional cold feet. The questioning doubters in my head set up all kinds of arguments. Who am I to offer advice to others? How can I leave my kiddos for the five days of the conference? Especially how can I go when it is the first four days of school!? What if the workshop attendees think the notebook is stupid? What if they feel they wasted their time in my workshop?

Though painful, I think anxiety like this is a good sign. It means I am taking a risk, not playing it too safe. It means I am determined to do things well. It means I am looking for answers. That's what I would tell my kiddos. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Turning off the faucet

This morning I saw a bumper sticker with the same slogan I saw on a sticky-note years ago. It reads:
"Too busy mopping to turn off the faucet!"
The sentiment always stikes a chord within me, but also mixed feelings. I recognize the futility and apparent short-sightedness of mopping up water, rather than getting up to turn off the faucet that is causing the flood. But I also know and recall many times in my life, when all by myself I felt overwhelmed by the water, I was torn between protecting and saving what was already getting wet and what would get ruined while I was searching for the leaky faucet.

Foster care "floods" are kind of like that. Of course we would turn off the faucet cause of the flood IF we knew what it was! But how can we guess. Like a plumber checking one pipe at a time, we don't even know if there is just one break or many. Is it the loss a child feels? Is it some previous trauma that still looms in their minds? Is it a memory that has come back to frighten them? The possibilities are almost endless.

For traditional parents it may be the mood swings of an adolescent that sparks the searching for the leaky cause, or a sudden change in a child's pattern of behavior that raises concerns. Any parent can find themselves torn between mopping and searching when unexplained illness hits a family member. While the professionals hunt for the reason, the cause of all the symptoms, the parents are often busy beyond words frantically mopping, trying to manage the symptoms, or keep the house running despite them, or both.

Fortunately most traditional parents only run into leaky pipes occasionally. Foster parents all too often find themselves finding one leak only to discover there is another... and another... and another. Sometimes the water seems to be rising faster than you can mop.

So what to do? Call a plumber. Often you are right... you CAN'T stop mopping long enough to find the leak or turn off the faucet. Call a plumber, two plumbers. Get a team of plumbers. For parents this may be a good therapist, doctor, support person, mentor, friend, or a mix combination of all those and more. Anyone who can help you mop or help you search is a person you should put on your team. Some floods are too big to handle alone ...don't hesitate, don't tell yourself you should do it on your own. Get a team. Get people to help. Call a "plumber."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fingers crossed

Today I woke up when I woke up.  Not when my youngest woke up.  Not when my crankiest woke up.  When I woke up.  What a glorious luxury!  How did I manage this?  My three little and not so little guys are all at camp this week.  I tried this once before and it didn't work by one they were sent home by the camp nurse with flu or cold [or maybe just Fate spiting me?]. Yesterday I caught up the dishes and laundry and picked up the living room, dining room, and hallway.  Guess what.  Today when I woke up.... it was still picked up!  What a treat!  I have talked to my grown children and several friends on the phone.  Guess what.  Noooo interruptions.  No whining children in the background, no fights to break up, no feuds demanding intervention... uninterrupted conversations.  Is this what an empty nest will one day be?  If so, I am confident that when that day comes I will adjust just fine.  Do I miss them?  Yes I do.  But it is nice to discover that I miss them.  Especially since I know they are doing fine, they too are having fun, enjoying a change.  As a single parent, breaks from the routine weight of parenting are incredibly precious and painfully rare.  So, my fingers are crossed that they all stay healthy and at camp until pickup on Saturday.  Wish me luck... I'm going back to enjoy my living room.  

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm baaaaaaack

Hello.... to any of you who are still checking in on my blog.  I am finally determined to get back to regular blogging.  My left hand injury has proven much more challenging than I expected and so I have been absent far too long.  But I'm back!  My entries may be shorter since my typing goes slower, but entries there will be. To those of you who sent cheer-me-ups.... thank you soooo much!  I can't believe that it has been over two months since I fell.  Such is life. Anyway.... starting tomorrow I will be back with my stories, suggestions, and musings to share.  See you then...