When is the last time you reached a personal milestone for something you had always hoped would happen in your life? Maybe that was landing your dream job or maybe even quitting a job, graduating college, buying your first car or home, or getting your first pet. If you had a baby you know many of these milestones: first words and steps, first solid foods, weening off or bottles or diapers, learning to ride a bike or skate, first day of school, etc. (the list is endless!). If you’re moving through those memories in your head this minute, was there someone in those memories with you celebrating beside you? Now try to remember them again, but this time imagine there is no one there to smile or laugh with you, embrace you, or share the moment with you. No one along the journey to reach the milestones. No one to provide advice, comfort, and support during the transition period.
Last weekend I officially transitioned my 3yr3mo out of his crib (YES, I was riding that crib wave as long as possible!) and into my 5.5yo’s room to the bottom bunk. I opted for skipping the toddler bed step and just went for it! After one week of some serious antics from both of them we were back to our 8pm-8am sleep schedule (roughly). Thank you to the No Wake clock! After I disassembled the crib and was clearing out the many baby items in the changing table area, the floodgates opened (and yes I let myself cry it all out – thank you therapy!). But not only for the obvious reason of saying goodbye to the baby phase which means no more rocking him to sleep and sweet baby snuggles, no more being safely contained in his little baby jail, and no more cute, soft baby blankets, animals, pictures…everything! Yes, I am grieving because time went by too fast and my baby is no longer a baby. But I’m also grieving because:
- I met my baby at 6 months old. I missed out on the first 6 months of his life. I missed his first smile, his first laugh, his first time sitting up. I missed the tiny baby phase that I love so much. So if you think time went by so fast with your baby, imagine having lost 6 months! My baby was 19lbs when he was placed in my arms. And my older baby (2.5yo when he arrived), I missed so much more.
- My dream nursery was half-baked. I love interior design, DIY, and remodeling. I’ve painted every room in my house. In foster care you don’t know who is coming. I set an age range of 6mo-5yo so I didn’t know if a baby was coming at all, but I had to pseudo-prepare for one in order to become licensed. The room you see pictured here was an office/storage room just a few weeks before my boys arrived. My only goal was to get all of the storage things OUT and the baby stuff IN so that I could pass my home study! And then a couple days before the boys arrived I decided I MUST. Paint. The. Walls. Using paint I already had I knocked that out and was putting the finishing touches on the stripes and hanging wall decor when my phone rang for my first placement call. I love how it turned out but it was a complete rush job with no idea if a baby was even coming (nor what gender)!
- Another big, lonely milestone reached. I found and purchased my home alone. I sold and bought a car alone. I designed and painted every room alone (with a little added elbow grease from some friends). I became a licensed foster parent alone. I became a mom alone. I raised two babies for 2.5 years alone. And now….I come to another big family milestone: I disassembled the crib alone, I transitioned baby into brother’s room alone, and I figured everything out alone. And so I grieve for yet another milestone my future husband and their future dad missed.
- Lost dreams. With each milestone I reach I always end up re-grieving the loss of that “dream.” Ya know, the one how we pictured our life to become. The spouse, the house, the pet, the yard, the kids, the joy……the list could be endless. And so I shed big tears for the life that I desired (and still do desire).
I can choose to focus on the above four bullets and let it take me to a very sad/dark place (of course, grieving IS healthy and needed but I’m talking about letting it take over). I can choose to soak in self-pity and sadness. Or I can choose to spin these circumstances around and see them how God sees them.
- I praise God that my baby came at 6mo! I thank God profusely for rescuing him when he did and saving him from further trauma and neglect. How great is our Father?! My precious baby has only known me as his mother and he seems unscathed from trauma thus far. I got a glorious 2.5 years of baby phase with him. And to think I could’ve said bye to him FOR REAL (although I did pre-grieve the loss of him twice but that’s a story for another day!). #thisisfostercare
- I LOVE my nursery. I spent SO MANY nights pacing or rocking my sweet baby to sleep in this beautiful little 10×10 room. I may not have gotten the time or details that I desired, but it CAME TOGETHER and that room makes my heart so full. It’s a room that I have longed to create for more than a decade. I had expected this particular room to house many babies but turns out it was only meant for my adorably round #mightyalex. HE is the baby that God meant for that room. HE was the one that I created it for.
- I am not alone. I may feel alone a lot. I may immensely miss having a man by my side. But the truth is that Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and so He lives in my heart at all times. I can choose to feel sorry for myself that I have to walk through each milestone alone or I can choose to be grateful to be going through such milestones at all! Grateful that I have the talents, knowledge, finances, health, etc. to be going through such magnificent milestones. Yes, being single is extremely lonely but with God our heart can be even more overflowing with love than any spouse could provide.
- An even better dream. Something happens when you lay down your life for Jesus. He steps in and starts messing up your life a little bit! 😉 How else will you grow?? When people go through trials I actually feel a little happy for them because it’s like, “Here we go, this is your opportunity to grow stronger, closer to God, and be changed! Take advantage! Don’t miss this opportunity to glorify God!” Believe me, I know how awful it feels when you’re going through it – I remember those years vividly (and am currently living some now!). But with each broken dream I chose to eventually stand up, reach for Jesus again, and let my dream be reshaped by Him.
Renewing my mindset was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and have to continue to do. For me it has in no way been a one-time thing. It’s a daily thing in fact. And there are many days I don’t win the battle and I dive pretty deep (especially now being a single parent). The enemy is so real. He creeps at our door waiting for us to stumble. Although the battle feels so real thankfully it has already been won. 🙂 Jesus has already won for us! We just have to embrace that and live it out.
In another post I will share some of the practical things I did to restore my broken heart, renew my mind, and overcome some dream-shattering circumstances. As always, thanks for reading.