In the Trenches or Lost in the Clouds?
Where have we been or maybe just where are we?
I’ve been trying to answer both of these questions for months now and the reality is we’ve mostly been in the trenches.
We are absolutely exhausted in a way we haven’t experienced before, in a way we expected but hoped we could stave off.
We are not without hope. We have hope. We have each other. We have therapists. (Go therapy!) (No really, GO THERAPY!)
Brief synopsis. Early July we took in a set of twins, one of whom had previously lived with us for 18 months over the course of the pandemic. End of August we moved from our tiny 1 floor 2 bedroom apartment to a much larger 2 level - 3 bedroom apartment. The boys started school.
Since their arrival our role has mostly consisted of being housekeepers (cooking, cleaning, etc.), and mediators.
For their sake I currently hesitate to say more but while there are moments of calm and hope, that is not the norm. I can’t and don’t blame them. Their life situation is not their fault. AND their life situation is one that they have to be responsible for. It is unfair. Children needing to be in foster care is unfair. Children having to be more mature than they are physically or mentally prepared for is unfair.
We are all in the trenches.
How do we get out of the trenches?
Some days we take everyone for ice cream right after school before anyone can say or do anything to lose a privilege.
We ask for help, from our agency, from the social worker, from their support team and from our friends and neighbors.
Help has looked like seeking more training about how to work with teenagers in Foster Care.
Help has looked like child-sitters.
Help has looked like asking friends and neighbors to send us and the boys messages of support, especially in moments of crisis.
Help has sometimes looked simply like saying “Help” and hoping people respond with ideas because our brains are mush.
Help is always hard to ask for...
Help is also imperative to everyone’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
This past weekend we went to the mountains, just us adults. We longed to see beautiful views that would remind us how small we are in this vast world but then a hurricane came through and the views were lost to the clouds.
Stating the obvious: A cloud is something so light it floats in the air while simultaneously able to totally hide the mountains, solid vast landforms.
It is something that we found frustrating especially as we longed to watch a beautiful Western NC sunset. We had to take what we could get and this is what we watched happen.
We marveled at it. We rewatched it multiple times.
It will surely be a long time until we totally understand this season of life. But the cloud's ability to shield an entire mountain range from view has started to remind me that there is life after this season in the trenches. While we didn’t get to see it on this trip we know the multi-wave mountain view will return.
We know that with each other we are strong. We know that we are asking for help as we do hard things and make difficult decisions. We know that we are not alone. We know we won't make all the right choices but that at least we're trying to.
To throw a wrench into this season that has already been challenging, I decided to step away from my current job. To be the best I can be for my family I need to be closer to home. And I don’t know what I will be doing next.
I want to work with people. I want to do work that has a positive impact on the world. I want to care well for people.
Over a decade ago I started working in food, mostly by accident. I was offered a job I didn’t even apply for, I took that as a blessing.
Over a decade ago my hope to focus on music and ministry transitioned to focusing on food, hospitality and management.
Before building our family, I spent a lot of my time advocating for the local food system, for all people to have access to ‘good’ food. I wouldn’t have done any of that work if I hadn’t accepted a job I didn’t even apply for.
Children in foster care didn’t ask to be in the situation they are in. That doesn't mean they are without hope.
We have currently taken on the responsibility of trying to care for them well. Of trying to protect them, teach them, love them, help them learn to love themselves, love others well, make good decisions, be responsible. They don’t always want what we have to offer whether they need it or not. And honestly finding the balance between trying to protect them and pre-teach them to set them up for success and not is a whole other story - I'll work on that.
For fear of repeating myself too much, we are in the trenches. We see hope and prosperity even in our frustration and exhaustion. This still is and has been a tough season of life.
For some living in the clouds is a way of protecting themselves from the world going on around them. For others the clouds are somewhere they are striving to reach. Some people reach the clouds and find everything they always wanted. (These are surely not the only cloud metaphors:)
I'm grateful we got to see the clouds. I'm grateful for the opportunity we have to try. I'm grateful for ALL of the help we receive.
We hope to write and share more soon.
Thank you for being you.
You deserve to be known.
You are loved.
Cyril & Dakota Jolly