cats

Over the last few years, we’ve heard every kind of comment/question you could imagine:

“I could never do that. I’d get too attached.”
“Are you ever going to have any real kids?”
“You know you’ll be stuck with him forever.”

…but the all-time worst comment has to be from one late night at the grocery store.  Thankfully none of the boys were there.  The woman in line behind me heard me mention being a foster mom of eight boys.  She exclaimed “You’re a foster mom?!  How great! I foster cats!”

Whaaaat?!

Did that woman just compare foster care of children who’ve been abused, neglected, and abandoned to caring for *cats?!  That was one of the many times my sweet husband had to remind me to just breathe and understand that the woman was only trying to make a connection.  She wasn’t intentionally being stupid; she just represented an entire population of well-meaning, ignorant people.  I’m sure I’ve even said such insensitive words to others in their grief and my weak attempt to make a connection.  To those of you who fit that category, thank you for showing me grace.  I had no idea I was being a jerk.

In the midst of such idiocy, however, there have also been plenty of uplifting, straight-to-the heart comments and looks that got us through rough times:

“Hang in there.”
“I’m praying for you.”
“Could you use an extra crock pot?”

Those who have been the kindest have usually been folks who have experienced immense grief, whether it is tangible or ambiguous (more on that in a later post).  They seem to have greater understanding of loss than most and speak without the desire to “fix” our situation.  Sometimes we foster parents need practical help, but most of the time we just need someone who will listen.

*Speaking of cats, the one above is named Griffin.  He’s a resident of our favorite bed and breakfast near Santa Fe.  He enjoys chasing mice, stealing socks, and listening to my frustrations without judgment.

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roses

I remember reading “Romeo and Juliet” in Ms. Birdsall’s 9th grade English class (and watching the 1968 version of the movie while Ms. Birdsall covered Juliet’s backside with a piece of paper).  My favorite line is when Juliet refers to their family feud by saying “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Our bunch has had quite a time trying to figure out the right language to use with one another.  Although the feelings of family, home, and love are present, their names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The term “family” brings a lot of meaning with it.  To me it means connection, warmth, and stability. To our boy it means biology, loyalty, and loss.  To refer to ourselves as a family grieves him.  It brings up all the things he’s lost, all the connections that have been severed, and all the missed opportunities to have what should have been a safe, loving childhood. Over the last few months, we’ve tried to find a term that has the meaning of warmth, connection, and stability without the hurt that the word “family” inflicts.  We still haven’t figured this one out yet.  We’ve tried “household” “bunch” and the word for “family” in other languages, but none of them have been the right fit.

Oh, and those other family words…

Saying the word “mom” or “dad” is like throwing daggers straight at our boy’s heart.  One afternoon at the store several years ago, I dropped my receipt.  A kind old woman handed it to Friday and said “Honey, your mom dropped her receipt,” to which he responded “She’s…not…MY MOM!!!” These days I go by “stepmom,” a term that I hold dear because I adore my stepmom.  It’s a word that his friends and classmates understand, and I feel honored to be in the same category as my stepmother. Señor Saturday and I refer to ourselves as his “guardians” since that’s the legal term for our status, but at home Friday typically calls us each by our first name.

The word “love” is still a touchy one around our house.  We’ve said “I love you” for years to Friday, but recently he decided give us his honest opinion on the phrase.  Many people over the years have said “I love you” but haven’t shown it with their actions.  Instead, he prefers that we say “I care for you.”

In the near future, we will have to make the decision to change Friday’s name.  How can you just change the name of a 15-year-old?!  That’s the only thing he has legally connecting him to the parents that gave him life. We want to make it clear that he is now a part of our family without removing the one part of him that’s still connected to those he loves most.  He will still be himself.  He will still be the smart, handsome, quirky Friday that we’ve always known, but he’ll go by a different name.  We’ve practiced saying his new name (which will most likely be hyphenated in order to respectfully show his identity with both families), and I’ve even caught him doodling it on school work.  The name change has surprisingly been much easier to discuss than the word “family.”

If you’ve got any words that we could use, by all means, let us know!

Mrs. Monday

 

The Onedays

Raising Friday is the digital home of The Onedays, an unconventional family* living in West Texas.  Mrs. Monday and Señor Saturday are high school sweethearts from Dallas.  Their story is a long and winding one involving music, heartbreak, and a whole lot of road trips.  In their most recent chapter of life, the two childless thirtysomethings have adopted a 15-year-old boy named Friday from foster care.

*Don’t expect to see the word “family” on here much.  It’s a trauma trigger for some members of the household.

I (Mrs. Monday) hope you read the title of this post and either say “one-days” or “oh-nee-days.” My intention is to have a name that represents our group without giving exact names, and it happens to be a nod to the movie That Think You Do.  Throughout our relationship (the one between me and Señor Saturday which began seventeen years ago), the answer to many of our unknowns has been “one day.”  Will we ever get married? “One day.”  Will we have kids? “One day.”  When will we get our crap together? “One day.”  We’re still waiting on that one.

You may be a friend from long ago, a part of our current phase of life, or someone who stumbled upon our page thinking it was a Dragnet fan site.  In any case, you’re welcome here.  Let me introduce the cast of characters that you’ll come to know better as we post:

  • Mrs. Monday is a peculiar woman, raised as an only child with a chain-smoking grandmother as her primary companion.
  • Señor Saturday is a jovial man whose vacation state-of-mind and glorious beard balance out his wife’s serious nature.
  • Friday is an extraordinary teen with a dry sense of humor and a keen internal thermostat.
  • Any other character is likely one of their former boys from a rousing 25-month stint as live-in houseparents at a foster group home.

We hope for this place to be one of honesty, humility, and love that portrays our lives and experiences accurately for those interested in jumping into a similar lifestyle.  Specifically, we’ve got a lot to say about foster care, teenagers, adoption, and hamburgers.  If you’ve got any requests for stories, input, or rants, let us know in the comments.  I’m always up for getting on my soapbox about something or rambling until my fingers tire.