I was planning on doing a post on this topic after watching a Four Corners (ABC) episode* on “Broken Homes’ about Australia’s child protection crisis, in particular ‘resi’ residential care, but this morning my motives have changed somewhat. Our 18 year old boarders mother passed away this week and I feel my strongest first reaction is not so much sadness for her loss (although there is that along with care and worry) but moreso ‘did I do everything right?’
My mother and I received a message from her saying something had come up and she wouldn’t be back from visiting home as expected, when I replied asking if everything was ok she texted back- talk later. I sent another message that night about random local news and then last night when I saw something on facebook stalked and texted asking was she ok, she replied with details of her plan to return.
I don’t feel hurt that she hasn’t told me herself (found out via a facebook post this morning with some of my friends offering condolences before I even knew), well actually yes I guess I do feel hurt and wondering what could/should I have done differently? How can I be there for her now? I think I’m overly sensitive about these things. I havn’t called as I feel maybe she’s kept me at a distance for a reason, but rather sent texts and fb msgs.
I think I’m scared. I know I havn’t been the most supportive person to her. That’s my biggest concern regarding this experience. I entered into it thinking it could be a stepping stone for our family towards fostering and while it has gone well, there have been times when I know I should be doing more, checking in more, talking more but I was tired, I was selfish and it wasn’t my responsibility. After all she was just a boarder paying rent for a room and feed. Yes I wanted to be a friend, family even – but there were times when I placated myself with, I didn’t have to, it wasn’t my responsibility, she wasn’t my child.
After watching the tv show and seeing the horror that is Australia’s care system I am even more pulled towards fostering. That along with all the posters and ads I’ve been seeing this year have been making me consider God’s call. In fact the morning after the show I was going to call our local service and start the ball rolling, even without hubby’s agreement (although being honest about it.) But this would be different to having a boarder. It WOULD be my responsibility. If we took this on, I wouldn’t be able to laze on the couch after a long day and placate myself. I would need to get up and deal with their issues. And as children in the foster system the issues would likely need a lot of time and effort. I’m a far from perfect carer but at the same time I feel confident my imperfections are better than other alternatives for foster children, arn’t they? Could I and my family be helpers to children in need? Or would the business of our lives (our selfishness) leave too little time and effort to give them the love and care they need? I didn’t get to making that call, life got crazy again, but the idea/seed is not going away. If you are the praying type ask God to give me direction and to help me act on His call in his perfect timing.
Post script – it’s been over a week since I first found out and I’ve been blessed with the honour of supporting our boarder and attending her Mum’s funeral. She is ok.
pps So I literally just pressed publish on this post and this quote came up on my FB feed ‘There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a great one’ …