Sheff using a child for resistance training, an entry into the world of sports.
Sports. I have entered the world of youth sports head on, rather like being catapulted into it. I really have no knowledge of sports. I love dancing, walking, even running. Understanding the rules of sports is where I am hopeless. I refer to a goal in basketball and a touchdown in soccer. I encourage the boys to pass down court when we are on a field and to shoot when they have a football. Hopefully they love me and my snacks enough to forgive such transgressions. Sheff loves sports. I was not aware of just how much until we had kids. He really, really enjoys throwing and catching things. We have 4 playing basketball this season, with Sheff coaching or assistant coaching 3 of the players, and will have 6 playing next basketball season. Football was blissfully light with only 3 in gear. Baseball is our highest level of participation. So far Daisy dances, I am better at this lingo. I should probably get a 101 book on each sport. But then I might care too much. Right now I fully buy into the idea of enjoying the game, having fun, being a good sport. If I understand the ins and outs I might start sounding like the parents who actually know what they are talking about and the kids might miss excited slightly confused mom on the field/court/rink.
We welcomed eight children into our home between March 2020 and today, we have had twenty five children placed as foster children since 2015, and an additional five as respite placements. These numbers look so bland on paper. Thirty children have been part of our daily living in the last six years, we have nine of our own children. In putting some thoughts on paper about what these numbers mean, it boils down to acceptance and hard work. If anyone is new to the Otis family speak, "our own" is a loaded term. We have five biological children and four adopted children. Early on one of our sons told us the power of the question "which ones are your own?" And the fact that I answered without hesitation all those years ago, "they are all our children" from birth or adoption, feeling fully accepted and claimed has become the way we walk in this family. This does not take away the respect and open conversation about birth families, first families and sacrifice. F
Where we were in March and where we are today has evolved. Sure there are great things, we all feel some of those. More time together, slower pace, perspective and pause. The flip side can be really painful. Isolation, feeling underwater, fear of the future, disconnection to loved ones and the list goes on. Yesterday after a day that had foster care lows, disconnection from our oldest that I know I am not managing well, and frozen pizzas (with lots of jalapeños) for dinner, we needed a re boot. As a family we brainstormed some ideas to get us out of the "pandemic slump" that we have fallen into. We re wrote the chore chart to update days that work for the 7 living at home, we deep cleaned seasonal spaces to get out winter gear for skating, sledding and indoor space for skateboarding. We sorted things to donate and recycle. We washed and folded all the left over items that were used for our foster daughter that left, said a prayer over the pile, and put them in a bin. We too
Someone came up to me after church today and asked about foster care, I could see the worry there. This was a kinship question, and I knew right away this would be a family I would be dropping off gear for, maybe a meal and praying for often. It made me think about the purpose of work, the value of productivity both compensated and non compensated. It made me think about how I am modeling work both at home, and in the world, to our children. When we started taking care of children, I did not think of it as work. I thought of it as a way to share our families warmth. Overtime I have learned, providing good quality care to vulnerable children, is indeed, work. I am able to help with multiple need based clothing closets, and have seen the need grow. We have had Head Start, foster families, single mothers and newly immigrated families, come in recently. Of course this is an unpaid job, and there are days it feels like really anyone could be doing it, so why me? When this person approac