Parenting doesn't usually have an ending point. Sure, they become legal adults at 18, and at some point they move out of your house. But generally speaking, once a parent, always a parent. But in the case of foster-parenting, there is always an end date looming in the future.
All (good) parents feel guilty. Pretty much all the time. But most parents get to go to sleep at night assuring themselves that tomorrow they'll do better. What happens when your tomorrows are running out? I know I talk a good game, but the truth is that I get just as frustrated as anyone else would with all those annoying kid behaviors. Have I spent too much time sulking? Yelling? Nagging? Have I done more harm than good? What if I can't fix all of it in the one week that I have left?
Realistically I know that I've done a lot of good for these kids, and that the good far outweighs my lessor moments. But that's hard to see when it's one in the morning and I'm counting down the days and minutes that I have left to make up for all my missteps.
How many more Pinterest crafts can I squeeze into this coming week? The truth is, not many. We've worked hard (very, very, very hard) to establish healthy habits and predictable routines. The kids thrive on our daily schedule, and there isn't much time left for making stamps out of potatoes and melting down our own adorable heart-shaped crayons. Side note: we actually tried this one, and I humbly suggest that you do not use the sylicone heart molds from Target that are actually ice cube trays. They might LOOK like the trays pictured on Pinterest. You might actually put them into your oven without thinking. (Silly mommy brain, am I right ladies?) They could, maybe, possibly, melt all over your oven. And you'll feel stupid. And your kids will be pissed off that they peeled a gazillion crayons for nothing. But I digress.
Our kids need structure and firm guidance. So we're doing some fun things this week to enjoy our last days with them and to give them a chance to say goodbye to all the important people they've met alone the way. But we have to balance that with maintaining the routines they've come to know and depend upon. I'll always regret that I didn't get to spend more time laughing and cuddling with them. That we didn't take a few more walks and spend those extra five minutes at the park that they were always begging for. I'll regret the times I was too quick to snap and too slow to listen. Some of that perhaps couldn't have been helped. But some of it could have.