I’ve really struggled to care for my body over this past year of foster care. We jumped in with an infant with medical needs in February 2021 and he went home to dad after ten weeks. After a little break, we brought home another baby with medical needs at the end of July 2021. He’s still with us, with no transition home date set.
Between their care, home schooling, a wrist injury, launching a foster/adoptive support group, and supporting a husband who essentially has a full-time job + two part-time jobs, there just has not been much margin for long workouts or time to focus on my own nutrition. And it’s really hard on me that I’m not “in shape” like I would like / expect myself to be.
But throughout this year I sense God has been teaching me to care for myself in other ways. I’ve grown and learned and perhaps “gotten in better shape” in other, invisible ways. I’ve also been forced to give my body grace during this season.
It is helpful to remind myself:
This is just a season. In the midst of caring for an infant and feeling exhausted all the time, it is easy to feel hopeless, like it’s going to be this way forever. But seasons come and go. It’s okay to hang in there until the next one.
Foster mom life is trauma. This is where grace comes in—being gentle and understanding of myself while I’m in the midst of very real truma. Especially for us veteran foster mamas, the trauma adds up and takes a toll on our bodies. Instead of working out, I have tried to prioritize sleep, baths, getting vitamin D, therapy, fiction reading for fun, and often just making it through the current day.
I can break free from body shame. This is an entire post in itself, but last summer I read Breaking Free from Body Shame by Jess Connolly and it was revolutionary for me. I highly recommend! Struggling with my body in this season has actually been an unforeseen gift to bring deeper healing and greater freedom internally.
Something is better than nothing. Often I only have time for a twenty minute walk with the kids. And that’s okay! My personality prefers to do things very well and very often with very good results, but that’s not always feasible. I’m learning small, healthy choices are good, too.
Cheerleader friends are the best. There are a couple of ladies who have encouraged me and spoken truth to me when I have been in the depths of despair over the past year and half. Everyone needs a friend who will remind you of what God says when the lies are getting loud.
There’s never going to be a perfect time. Our current placement is on the verge of transitioning home, but that could look like three weeks or three months. For a while, I was planning to start working out regularly after he went home. Then I finally realized I can’t wait until the perfect moment. It may never come. If I want to make healthy changes, I can start making small adjustments now.
I’m doing the best that I can. This is something I learned in therapy a few years ago. It is still super hard for my personality to say that this is true. Sometimes I’m simply doing the best that I can and that is ENOUGH!
Sacrificial living will require sacrifice. I remind myself often that if giving of myself for the benefit of these two precious children has resulted in my body struggling a bit, then it is worth it. Their attachment and care and safety and growth are worth it. It would be an oxymoron for sacrificial living not to require actual sacrifice from me. I am humbled and honored for my life to be poured out as an offering (2 Tim. 4:6) on behalf of these precious children. If Jesus returns soon, I may not be in great shape but He would hopefully find me serving. Thank goodness for heaven and the promise of a renewed body!
What does it come down to for me? In this season, I acknowledge the trauma of foster care and motherhood on my body. I am learning to give myself grace. I am trying to prioritize small, healthy choices. I am celebrating the health and healing God is bringing on the inside even when the outside is a struggle.
This season is not wasted! One definite growth from the past year has been my renewed commitment to Bible study. God’s word continues to come alive to me; He upholds me.
My flesh and my heart may failPsalm 73:26
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.