Yesterday my trio started middle school. By all accounts it was a great day. We love our school. I had peace in my heart that they were in a safe place with people who love and know them and are invested in their development.
I teared up just a little as I drove out of carline--middle school parents don't walk students in or linger, I was told. (Thankfully, I took our traditional photos at home beforehand.)
As I returned to my very quiet home and an unrushed second cup of coffee I heard the ticking of a clock. I had not been aware of it this Summer--despite the fact that the sound is always there. The clock is not new, neither is the passage of time, but it cannot always be heard amidst the 'life sounds' of a busy household.
I think this is why quiet is so important and simultaneously startling. It allows the waves of thoughts kept at bay to rush in. When we slow down and pay attention we notice the inches grown, the size of the shoes at the base of the stairs, the new wrinkles on our faces and the ticking of time.
While none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, a basic tenet of 'responsible' parenting is beginning with the end in mind. One of the hardest parts of foster parenting has been the unknown length of stay. How long do we have to invest in these children?
It has been a growing, stretching, challenging experience to parent one day/week/month at a time. I've realized that this is one of the great sanctifying aspects of this experience for me--learning to walk in faithful obedience to the task at hand, allowing God to be master of the outcome. Although the practical lesson has been with my foster children, it has significantly shaped the way I now view parenting my biological offspring as well.
As I was pondering all this yesterday I realized my trio has seven school years left at home. Our latest timetable with our foster children indicates we likely have about seven more weeks with them before they move on to their permanent home.
The girls are set to begin weekly overnight visits to their home in a few days. They are excited and my family feels peace that it is time. But, honestly, it feels a bit like a divorce. The girls' ties to us have to begin loosening to make room for other bonding. Emotions are unpredictable and all over the place.
My heart is just beginning to grasp that after 17 months of parenting Bug and 10 months with little GiGi they will no longer call me Mom. But, the work here is not yet done. God, in His sovereignty, still has these girls in this home for a few more weeks--my trio, God willing, for seven more years--and I am praying for the strength to be faithful until the end.
When I stop and ponder how little time I have left, there is a temptation to panic. So many lessons remain. How much more can I cram in the allotted time? As performance anxiety looms, I can't escape that both of my parenting-in-my-home 'finish lines' were sevens. Seven, after all, is a symbolic number used throughout the Bible.
As I studied about the Biblical significance this morning I couldn't help but smile. "Seven signifies a completion of some kind: a divine mandate is fulfilled." None of our earthly timelines panic our Father--and I am not called to complete anybody. I am called to be faithful and leave the results up to Him.
This is just a chapter...but what a deep, significant, life altering one it has been for us all. I am weary, but standing on His promises, trusting Him to breathe fresh wind in my sails to finish strong.
"He who began a good work...will be faithful to complete it.." Philippians 1:6
"He will sustain you to the end..." I Corinthians 1:8a