6/28/14

Attached



Being a foster mom is a strange thing.  It feels completely natural to care for this child and yet I am reminded repeatedly how unnatural this situation actually is. 
 I am "just" a caregiver, but I am also a mother. 
I mother this child and yet I'm not.

She doesn't know the difference, and honestly neither does my own heart.

When I said goodbye to my first little foster newborn about 5 years ago (who was actually my fourth foster child) I wondered if I had done something wrong.  Was there some sort of foster parenting trick I hadn't learned, was there a secret that would shield me from the hurt? Was I just not cut out for this sort of thing? I was convinced I was a failure at fostering simply because I loved him, and I didn't want him to go.  I didn't want to send a tiny baby out into the unknown. It was a painful letting go.  

When something feels really bad it's natural to assume that it is bad, that we are doing something wrong.  I felt a little guilty...like I wasn't being "professional" enough. I thought maybe I was just doing it wrong. 

Over the years, a few more foster babies, a couple adoptions, and conversations with other foster parents, I've decided that "getting attached" just means that I'm doing what a foster mom is supposed to do.  Loving.  Grief is just part of the gig when you let go of someone you love.

It's hard though.  It's hard not to want to put up walls of self preservation and hide. Part of me wants to run far and fast. Every instinct I have tells me to jump from a train that's barreling towards certain disaster, to climb into a life boat and row away to safety while this ship flounders. 

This is where the gospel weaves it's way into my heart and realigns my thinking.  I am set aright, even when all seems wrong.  

I choose to walk with her in the mess. 
Press into the pain.
Double down.

The word "attached" often comes up when someone is asking or commenting about fostering.  

"I could never do that I would get too attached"

That's a fair assessment.  Most likely you would.

Getting "attached" is what we do.  I don't have a heart of steel that can care for a child like I would my own, and yet feel nothing but a vague fondness for them.  It also implies that I might be stronger than your average woman, or some sort of super saint...which is not only untrue but it encourages the idea that fostering isn't something more people could do.  I'm just a regular mom who said "yes".  "Attached" just means you have loved well. 

If an abandoned baby, or child in need, showed up on your door step you would do the same thing.  
I just volunteered to be that doorstep.  

That volunteering for it can create some confusion in my own heart and mind though. 
"This child is most certainly not yours, how dare you ever feel like she is".

 It can also give the illusion that because "she signed up for it" she has no right to feel actual genuine grief when that child leaves. 

The word "attached" can also be used in a head tilted condescendingly to the side, sympathetic  toned, "I guess you got attached, didn't you".  It generally implies that getting attached is a pitfall to be avoided, or an inherent weakness to be overcome.  My ability to bond with a child that needs a firm parental bond is not a liability but an asset. 





I will love her like she is my own, because for right now 
in this moment
today
she is.

I am woken multiple times a night to comfort and nourish. 
I stumble zombie eyed through the dark kitchen making a bottle.  
I pace the carpet waiting for little eyes to close. 
I sit and rock a fevered baby while carefully wetting her hair.
I hold her in my firm grasp, hold back tears, and whisper soothing sounds into her ear as she is vaccinated, and has blood drawn. 
I am filled with pride and joy with every "first".

I am warmth, comfort, security, and sustenance.
I am mother.

She gazes intently at my face as she feeds.
Her smiles break out as milk drips down the corners of her mouth.
She turns her head at the sound of my voice,
quiets and calms as she feels my arms.
Right now, in this moment, I'm mommy.  I am the foster mom...not a babysitter, an impostor, or a pretender.

Simply because that's what she needs. That's what God designed every new baby to need. 
I can be that for her. 
I know how to be a mom.
Even if its only for a while.




What is it like to foster parent a newborn?
Its just like parenting your own newborn...without the leaky boobs and stitches down under. 

What is it like to say goodbye?
I'll let you know when that day comes. 



One day at a time. 
Today I'm going to give her as much love as she needs. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34



6/4/14

Bubbles

Bubbles are serious business around here.



I love how a few dollars spent on soapy water will entertain this Littles for....the time between when I give it to them and until they spill it all. 


My garden is starting to grow.  The days are warm.  The grass is green and my anemic winterized soul is soaking up all the spring color.  You really don't know how much you miss the colors of nature until you have survived several months of only seeing white..and dirt brown.  Even the dandelions make me happy.  Happy simply because Spring is here.  In fact I should be packing our trailer right now instead of blogging because tomorrow we pull out for our first camping weekend of the year.
                                  Photo: Spring is finally here!  The first flowers have finally bloomed. #saskatchewan

This week was a pleasant lull between the hectic pace of seeding season and all the extra activity/yard work that comes with summer.  I also had no appointments this week...which lately amounts to a small miracle.  Next week I'm back driving kids around to various specialist appointments. I appreciated a slower pace week.  The big kids are wrapping up their school work (just a bit more to go!) and the Littles are enjoying the sunshine.  I indulged in a daily nap.





This is where I spend the majority of my time.  

I tell you she is only about 6 lbs but she has a lovely way of ordering my entire day (and night).
She is a precious distraction. I love to just sit and hold her while she sleeps.  She loves to be held.  It's a pretty good match, although my messy house and malnourished children might disagree. 

I've had several newborns over the years and have generally become quite proficient at getting babies into a flexible routine and gently leading them into good sleep and eat habits. But this one is different.  Maybe because she was a preemie.  Maybe I've grown lazier and softer in my old age.  Maybe I just realize how short my time with her could be and how quick babies grow up.  The focus with her has been to invest as much love, touch, and nurture as possible and keep her growing.  I have been feeding her anytime she desires to eat which typically works out to about every two hours day and night.  This includes the time it takes to feed her, burp her, and then of course I sit and enjoy the sleeping baby for a bit.  She's like a strong force of gravity...I can't quite make myself get up.  By the time I lay her in her bed and decide I should get something done she's mewing for a bottle again and I start the process over again.  She is growing and thriving so its worth it.   Eventually, as she is starting to have more awake time, I will space her eat/wake/sleep cycle out to about three hours.  Everything in it's time though.


                     Photo: New summer outfit.  Nice to see her in something other than preemie sleepers, mostly because I get to see her cute bare arms and legs. She looks bigger in the picture than she actually is, but she is growing. Even a teeny tiny but of pudge.  #babylove #summertime #thereasonIgotnothingdonetoday

Right now it feels like I'm living in a happy little bubble.  I like my bubble.
In here this baby is safe, loved, and every grunt, squawk, and cry is responded to. I kiss a sweet neck, and inhale the delicious baby scent. My arms hold a warm soul soothing weight.

In this bubble my days revolve around the bowel function of a tiny baby (no joke...babies pooping is a big deal. A constipated newborn will rearrange your life).   My hours are filled with the gentle thumping of my hand on her back and waiting expectantly for that glorious belch.  Caring for a newborn takes every bit of you. The best I can describe it is like a dance.  During those hours spent together you learn the subtle cues, she responds to me and I to her.  I am poured out. It's both draining and life giving.

Being a foster mommy to a newborn is really no different than being a regular mommy to a newborn.  The only difference is knowing that with one phone call that bubble can be popped (and I can't show you her gorgeous little face).

                      Photo: Someone really loves her Daddy. #daddysgirl #adoptionrocks

In this bubble little girls are adored, and protected by their Daddy,

                     
                       Photo: Blessed

                      Photo: Roman has been such a sweet baby helper.  He goes and picks her up when she's crying, sits and holds her, and feeds her.  I can't help but catch a glimpse of the nurturing Daddy he will be someday. #bigfamilylove #fosterbrother

Big brothers learn empathy, gentleness, and how to nurture and protect those who are fragile

                        Photo: He has always loved babies. #fosterbrother  #fostercare #soblessed

and a nuzzled into a mommy's neck is always the best place for baby to be.


Photo: Seriously hard to get anything done with this sweet distraction. I finally started to sort out winter and summer clothes ( the big bi- annual season change dresser clean out).... About 10 minutes in she woke up. Then I "had" to feed and snuggle her again. As much as I love the time with her I'm hoping she will soon start to have a longer eating/ sleeping cycle.  Oh well, it's a fleeting season. Even more fleeting for a #fosterparent .

It was just over a month ago that I walked into the NICU and saw her laying in the hospital bassinet.  I ached to get her home, and now she's been home for nearly a month.

Each day, week, and month will be a gift.  She's so worth it.


5/22/14

Spring is here, and I'm tired.


(Daddy having some late night snuggle time)

It's seeding season here on the farm.  For my non-agricultural readers that is the time of year when us Canadian farmers put some grain into the ground in expectation that it will yield a harvest.  It's the kick off to our somewhat short growing season.  It is the time of year that my hubby leaves with a packed cooler first thing in the morning and then gets home long after the kids have gone to bed.  

Farm life, and it's constantly changing, unpredictable, yet cyclical seasons, has always been a part of my life.  Some farm wives have a hard time adjusting to their life being dictated by things like weather and seasons but it's just natural to me.  I grew up with a farmer Dad, and despite marrying an American city boy...ended up being a farmers wife. 

Right now being a farmers wife means single parenting for a few weeks. 


It's almost comical that the day seeding started this little bundle of sweetness arrived in our home.  Because we can't ever do things the easy way right?  Over all it's gone well.  We are making it through each day...and night.  I was thinking back to my other home-made newborns and neither of us has ever had "maternity leave" or "paternity leave".  Aili was born during harvest....so my husband was back out in the fields the day we got home from the hospital.  Roman was a summer time baby and was born during hay and silage season.  Silas was my winter baby and most likely my husband was around quite a bit more when he was tiny.  Adding another baby into the business of life just doesn't seem like that big a deal.  Baby Violet is our 7th foster child and our 4th foster newborn.


Right now my house is a mess.  My kids and I ate popcorn for supper.  We haven't finished up our home schooling year yet.  My days are a blur of noise, laundry, cooking, breaking up sibling spats, various appointments in various towns, long division, boiling bottles, feeding and burping a baby.  My nights are a blur of catching moments of sleep, rocking a baby, mixing formula into bottles, waking up to squeeks and cries, and falling asleep with a tiny girl on my chest. 

But I get to see moments like this.
I love my sleep as much as the next person...maybe more because it's such an elusive and rare commodity but in the end, 
It's a good trade. 


They're worth it.  Two beautiful precious little girls. I'm so thankful I get to love them.


It has finally warmed up enough to put in the garden. I'm rarely very organized about it but each year we get the seeds into the dirt. 




Roman is teaching little sister how to plant the onion sets. 


Today was the first day that felt like summer.  It was SO warm! 
Warm enough for some water play in the back yard.




 \Yay for green grass!

Big sister helping Elijah fill the water guns. Never too big for a turtle pool right?


This little girlie is so goofy.  Seriously.  She's our comic relief without even realizing she is.

Spring is here. 
 I'm tired
but it's short and beautiful season. 
Someday I'll get all the rest I can stand..until then I'll let Jesus be my Sabbath. 


5/12/14

Introducing our newest little one.



So much to write, and so little time and brain power to do it.
I'll muddle through my foggy sleep deprived brain and let you in on the newest little family member we are caring for.

I wrote a while back that we had re-opened our home for foster placements.  It took a little longer than expected to get our first phone call (about 3 weeks) but she was worth the wait.  

I spent those weeks preparing our home and my heart for any possibilitiy.  I prayed for the mystery child who I knew could be entering the world at any time.  We knew we were mostly likely to get an infant since newborns are the hardest to place...and that's what I like.  

I prayed for protection for this next child.  I didn't know who this child would be but a newborn placed into foster care is already a survivor.  A baby who likely already has many odds stacked against her.  I prayed she wouldn't slip through the cracks of the system, that she would be safe through childbirth, and that she would be protected. 

12 days ago we got "the call" asking us if we would take a teeny tiny little girl.  
We asked a lot of questions and answered with an eager "yes!"



She is just as sweet as can be, and we feel so blessed to get to be the ones to care for her. 
She didn't come home right away and we spent some time commuting back and forth to the city to visit her in the hospital.  
After a week of waiting for her she was finally discharged and came home.

The next day the kids had a little soccer camp.  Life doesn't slow down this time of year!  
This is really the first organized activity/ sport that Elijah has been involved with.
It was good to see him participate.  He tuckered out part way through and was more interested in playing with the dog of one of the other parents but he did well trying to keep up.





Elijah is doing great with the new baby.  He has really battled extreme insecurity and jealousy when mommy's affections are focused on one of the other children so I wasn't sure how this would go.  So far he's been very welcoming and has taken on a "big brother" role.  He is very sweet.





The pictures are a bit out of order but these were some we snapped with visiting our tiny girl in the NICU.


Love at first sight.




I am not permitted to share much information about the baby, show her face (trust me she's beautiful), or her actual name but I'll share as much of this new story God is writing in our lives as possible.  He gets the glory.

I've been soaking up the newborn preciousness.  She loves to be held close and I'm happy to oblige.

Not one kiss, or sleepless night is wasted effort.
She's worth every bit of it.

Once again, what her future holds is uncertain but while she is here in my arms I will love her ferociously and hold nothing back.  Simply because that's what she needs, and that's what she deserves. 

I don't know the future but I trust the One who does..  
Knowing what she has endured already I know that God has already answered so many of my prayers.  
Her life was preserved, she has been protected, and she is now in a place of safety and love. 

With each of my foster babies I have given them a social media alias.  I haven't thought of any sort of natural nick name this time.  Miss Cece's just popped into my head so naturally....in fact what began as a blog alias actually stuck and we call her Cece in real life too.  

I think with this delicate little one I will use the name "Violet".

Violet is my grandma's name.  She is very ill and has been on my heart a lot lately.  Even if it's just a pseudonym for our foster baby I want to honor her by using her name.  I also happen to think it's a lovely name...and suits my little flower.   My delicate little Beauty.


The day we brought Violet home was also the day my husband started seeding.  On the grain farm there are two busy seasons...seeding time and harvest.  This little one hasn't had her share of Daddy time, since he's in the field from morning until dark, but she's already got him wrapped around her itty bitty fingers.




I'm feeling very tired, but very very blessed.


Soli Deo Gloria,

5/7/14

My thoughts on Emily Letts and abortion...in case you want to know.

I came across something a couple days ago that, although is far from shocking and even mind numbing in it's banality,caused me enough of an emotional response that I figured I'd sit down at the computer and work out some of my thoughts.  You can find the article here.

The first thing that came to mind was simply Isaiah 5:20

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

"They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent." (v23)

This publicity stunt  is merely a woman who has her abortion process filmed in order to show the cheery, positive side to having her baby killed.  This video is attempting to show a candid glimpse into a real abortion, but strangely enough the actual abortion process is not actually filmed, referred to or mentioned. All that is shown is a glowing mother humming and smiling her way through her child's execution.  I watch it and I pity her.  This is not empowerment it's delusion.

The ultimate goal is to rid abortion of it's inherit stigma.  It further promotes the "It's no big deal" mantra that is desperately being promoted by an abortion industry that profits off of the crushed souls of women and the lives of their children.

Despite the assertions otherwise there is still a lingering myth (I see it all over comments on social media) that no "pro-choice" activist or supporter is actually pro-abortion.  They lament that abortion isn't "good" but rather a heart wrenching personal decision that a woman must make, and no one should interfere with.  I have no doubts that there  are women who are heart broken, feel pressured, and wish they didn't have to go through with it.  I know that even more women are devastated with regret afterwards. My heart breaks for them.  That's part of why Pro-lifers are passionate about coming alongside of women and offering all kinds of helpful free services (unlike abortion providers).

 I think another sad reality is that for many pregnant mothers it's just not that big a deal.
Why?
Why is having a child suctioned limb from limb out of your womb no biggie?
Why is it just fine and dandy to use abortion as an afterthought form of birth control?
Why is ending the life of a completely unique human being who will never exist again, and has never existed before (and in doing so snuffing out all future potential, joys, endeavors and generations) not something to grieve?
Simply because they've been sold on a deceptive marketing scheme.  They've already bitten the carefully laid hook of idolatry that tells them that their god of comfort, life goals, me-time, and sovereignty over their "own body" is worth killing for.  Pregnancy is simply a nasty potential side effect of their right to unhindered and uninhibited sexual gratification, much like an STD.  It's no wonder that when those two little lines appear on the pregnancy test that they are met with horror and a resolve to remedy the situation. The reality is that abortion doesn't prevent you from being a mother, it just makes you the mother of a dead baby.

If you actually believe, contrary to every bit of scientific fact, that an abortion is nothing more than having a hairy mole removed, or treating a parasitic infection...then why wouldn't you celebrate your emancipation with a night out with the gals afterwards.  After all, it was simply you asserting your "rights".

When you allow your mind to soak into that bog of delusion long enough all sense of right and wrong become mixed into murky shades of grime where "it's right for me" is sovereign over every other factor including the life of another human being.  Good is condemned as evil, and evil is celebrated as good.

I don't know that I've ever seen as glaring an example of this as this woman's description of the actual termination of her child's life.

 "I was focused on staying positive and feeling the love from everyone in the room. I am so lucky that I knew everyone involved, and I was so supported. I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I'd grab."



This heart breaking mix of words is such a stew of contradiction that it hurts my brain.  This baby meant something to her whether she wants to admit it or not.  She will drown out the natural grief she feels with her new found notoriety, and accolades.

She was "feeling the love" as the unborn child in her womb was being exterminated.   I can think of a lot of words to describe this scenario but "love" is not one of them.

"It was as birth-like" as can be.  Clearly she has little concept of what a "birth" actually is. I can't reconcile the suggestion that spending a few minutes with your legs spread and having a small vacuum invading the once safe depths of your womb, has any sort of resemblance to childbirth.  The agonizingly miraculous experience of welcoming a baby that you have carried and nurtured in your womb into the big wide world and into your loving embrace is very un-abortion-like. In fact I would suggest the two scenarios couldn't be more completely opposite.  Which leads me to my next bit of confusion.
"During my training, I learned there are three kinds of doulas: birth doulas, adoption doulas, and abortion doulas. A light went off in my head.
I had never been political about abortion rights before, but the idea of helping women through an abortion and supporting them and reassuring them that they are still wonderful and beautiful resonated deeply with me."
An Abortion Doula??  That's a thing? I've heard of abortion counselors who assure women that they are doing the right thing, and the clinic workers who piece the tiny babies bodies back together after the procedure to insure that all of the dismembered bits made it out of mama's body.  Of course we know an abortionist is going to show up at some point to do with dirty work....but an "abortion doula"?

I get wanting to help women.
 I understand the desire to comfort women through a potentially scary and invasive "procedure" but why must they use a term that is so connected to child birth?
 It also makes me wonder why we don't we have "root canal doulas"?
Or "pap smeer doulas"?
 If it's truly no big deal then why does a woman need to be coached through it?

 If she is truly pro-woman and passionate about helping them...leading them like a blind guide into a room where their child will be killed, and their own bodies and hearts will be scarred, is not the best outlet for that.

"Once I caught my breath, I knew immediately I was going to have an abortion. I knew I wasn’t ready to take care of a child. The guy wasn’t involved in my decision. "

Once again it doesn't seem like a terribly agonizing decision, but rather the natural and unsurprising thought process for someone who has dedicated her life to assuring other women that their children are merely disposable bits of inconvenient tissue.

What about "the guy"?

She puts that out there like it's another star on the feminist chart.  Of course he had no say, why would the baby's father have a say in it's future?  I mean, you could demand money from him if you decided to raise the baby...but heavens no he doesn't need to be involved in it's demise.  I don't know if she just picks guys who are so uninvolved and so cowardly that they don't want to be involved or attempt to protect their children...or if he's just bought into the lie that this is merely her body and none of his business.  Or maybe he didn't even know.

"I knew I wasn’t ready to take care of a child. "

This woman is 25 years old.  She is a full fledged adult.  She has a job (albeit a questionable one). I'm assuming she has a boyfriend or something of the sort. She apparently has a lot of love and support.  What qualifies someone as "ready"?

When I turned 25 I was pregnant with my third child...we were the most broke we've ever been (and money has always been tight), and we were virtually unemployed and wondering what the future would hold.  Was it ever an option to sacrifice our children until we got our act together?  No. What on earth makes someone "ready" to be responsible for the choices they've made?  What is this extended adolescence, other than rampant selfishness?  The truth is no one is ever "ready" anyway...they may want a child desperately, they may prepare endlessly but when that child comes you realize really quickly that you have some adjusting of priorities to do.  The truth is a lot of people don't feel very "ready" until that baby is placed in their arms and they fall in love. Sometimes readiness comes from doing the thing you're most afraid of. I don't feel "ready" to parent teenagers...but in a couple months my daughter will officially enter her teen years. I don't feel "ready" to parent another baby who may possibly have a variety of health and developmental issues. I still don't feel "ready" to raise a son with cerebral palsy. It's a good thing that their health and well being doesn't rely on my ability to muster up confidence.

"Everyone at the clinic was really supportive of filming it. At first they wanted to sit down and talk about the real consequences of this. There are a lot of politics involved. We knew we could have hundreds of protesters at our door; we could have bomb threats. Working at an abortion clinic, every once in awhile it feels like you’re working in a war zone.
But I said, “Bring it,” and they were on board."
 I guess this is my "bringing it".  Not very scary, I admit. This part made my eyes roll so hard they stabbed my brain.  "A lot of politics involved".  The abortion battle isn't fought over politics, it's fought for basic human rights.  Bomb threats? Seriously.  Hundreds of protesters at your door? Protesting your sad little video when the exact same thing happens in clinics all over the world?  It's just not that special. What pro-lifers will do is honor the brief life of your unborn baby, and pray for you. In fact here is a letter written by one of those rabid pro-life "extremists". It might feel like a war zone to you...not because of imaginary militant pro-lifers launching hand grenades...but because of the spiritual battle at war within your own heart.  All I've got to bring is my pity for you as a woman, my sadness at the whole scenario, and my prayers that a heart of stone would be turned to flesh.  A heart that feels...even if that feeling is remorse.  






This isn't Emily Letts.  This is Lisa and she is a Canadian woman who courageously shares her story.  She had three abortions.  This is why Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.  For women like Lisa and the children she lost.  Canada failed her.  



*I was tired of seeing the same smiling photos associated with this video...so instead decided to share a candid photo of our newest little foster baby. She is precious beyond words. More on her coming soon....*

Soli Deo Gloria, 

4/23/14

Why I don't give my kids an allowance.


I have a confession.  For years I've been hiding the full extent of my parental negligence.  No more.  I'm letting the cat out of the bag.

I do not, nor have I ever, given any of my five children an "allowance".



Years ago when I was a much greener, wet behind the ears, parent I assumed that I would eventually put my children on the dole and that this would be proof my parental provision for them.  They would learn to take care of the money entrusted to them and we would all be happy with the arrangement.
That day never came.  For one reason or another I found other things to spend every last cent of our family's income on.  I squandered it on things like food, shoes that fit growing feet, and keeping the power from being shut off.

Still, I assumed I would give them an allowance someday.  Someday when we had a little more cash left over.  Someday when I'm not such a flake.  Someday when I actually have some sense of stick-to-it-ness, consistency, and follow through. Sadly that day never came...and then it just didn't seem to matter any more.  We still have no cash left over at the end of each month, I'm still a huge flaky space cadet...and somehow my kids have always had everything they need.

I started thinking about it the other day and I realized that what may have started as an unintentional circumstance became something that has actually been quite valuable.  I no longer don't give an allowance by accident...I don't do it on purpose.  If that makes any sort of sense.

I shall preface my reasoning by saying my intention isn't to publicly shame "allowance" giving families, make you feel all icky inside, but rather add perspective to this non-debate and share some observations. In the end I really don't give a flying squirrels fuzzy hiney what other families do with their money.  There is more than one way to skin a cat....or a squirrel.  You parents are quite competent enough to figure out what works for you and your kids.

First of all, not being on a parental dole has taught my kids that they are not entitled to what we have.  Our money is not their money.  This is a lesson best learned before they are expecting us to pay their phone bill when they're 30, or fighting over our inheritance when we croak (or worse yet long before we're dead)....not that there will be one, but you get the point.

They don't, by merely existing, have the right to expect a fistful of dough to be given to them on a regular basis. I want to teach my kids the opposite of entitlement, and it would seem that giving them an allowance would work contrary to that goal.  At least it would make achieving that goal more difficult.

My kids trust that we will look after their needs.  I've told my kids, from the time they could whine, that when they need something we will get it for them.  I ask them if they've ever gone without something they needed and if  they trust that we take care of them.  Often we have purchased what we know they will need (or even just sometimes want) before they even know they need or want it. Sometimes we treat them to something "extra" just because we delight in their delight. We enjoy giving them good things, but I want them to be grateful for what they have.  I want them to carry a simple sense of contentment and gratitude into adulthood with them.

They learn to value money and work for it.  I've noticed something evolving in my oldest kids.  Their rare whine for an allowance, has been replaced with complaining that they need a job.  They are constantly coming up with ways they could make a few extra bucks.  They have been known to scour the ditches for beer cans they can return, or sell lemonade on a hot summer day.  Now that my daughter is 12 she has been babysitting regularly.  She saved up money to take a babysitting course and viewed even that expense as a strategic investment into her budding childcare career.  She is working several hours per week...in fact she was out late babysitting tonight and will be babysitting all day Saturday.  She is a hard worker, she's great with kids, and she doesn't text her friends while she's on the job.  She realizes that if she does a job well it will lead to more jobs.  In the last couple months she has saved up nearly $300 by working hard, proving herself responsible, and not wasting what she did earn.  She now adds up the value of things by asking "how many hours would I have to work to pay for that?".  She doesn't ask us for things she wants, she sets a goal and then goes out and works for it.  Sometimes that goal is just a new pair of jeans.

 My 10 year old son is slightly jealous of his sisters success and is insisting I let him advertise his own lawn mowing business this summer.  I'm not so sure about that one yet, but he is chomping at the bit.   I keep reminding him that if he can prove himself responsible in the small tasks the larger "jobs" will gradually start coming.

One nice thing about the big kids bringing in their own money is that they can buy the things that are "wants".  There is no way on God's green earth that I will buy them a smart phone, or an ipod touch...but I'm more than eager to encourage and cheer on their efforts go buy one themselves. This may sound stingy but mostly it's just reality. When you live off of one income, have five kids to feed, and have some odd priorities like "mission trips" to Mexico and international adoption, the budget gets whittled pretty narrow.  We've been forced to allow them to struggle and "go without" certain things, but now I'm realizing that that struggle is actually a really good thing. I have also noticed that they are generous with the money they earn.   Aili's babysitting money has at times been completely spent on sibling Christmas gifts, and donations to help fund adoptions.

When you work for something you appreciate the value of it, and take care of it.  When you learn to be content you are freed up to be more generous. 

I suppose you could trade an allowance for household chores and create a points system in which an allowance is earned.  I'm just not that organized.

I also think that "chores" are just part of being a family.  I do occasionally pay a child to do an "extra" sort of a non-routine job but for the most part I want my kids to learn that being part of a family, or a community, or a Church means that you serve others. You don't serve in order to get.  You serve your family out of love, and because that's what keeps everything running smoothly.  "Chores" for us constitute anything that needs to be done at any given time.  I really try to avoid the "That's not my job!" scenario.  In this house everything is everyone's job...sometimes certain jobs just get assigned to certain children depending on ability level.

Here's the big idea.  I desire that my kids develop a sense of personal and civic responsibility.  I want them to appreciate what they have and learn what real contentment is.  I want to encourage virtues like ingenuity, creativity, tenacity, and work ethic.  As far as I can tell, not giving them an allowance is just one way to make teaching those things a little easier.

If I'm wrong, they can save up their money to hire a therapist who will sympathize with them as they describe the details of their deprived childhood.





Soli Deo Gloria,

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