People Are People

I wrote this post a few weeks ago for another site who passed on publishing it.


The most surprising part of being a foster family is how much it shows people are just people. Liberal, conservative, pro-life, pro-choice, apathetic: half have been helpful and kind and half have been horrible and embarrassing with no rhyme or reason as to who will be who.

I know in the news the liberals are rejoicing about what a terrible human being Josh Duggar is as the conservatives rejoice at the cynicism of Planned Parenthood, and the one upmanship of catching someone on the other side being a hypocrite is continues forever and forever. Amen. However, real life it’s just not like that.

As a liberal, I understand the joy in catching a conservative doing something immoral. Even as a Christian, because I take liberal stands, which I even believe are the more moral stands, the conservative version just seems to more easily wear the cloak of morality. And to see it pulled off makes me want to rejoice, too. Perhaps conservatives feel the same way about liberals always helping the poor and caring about the oppressed. But if I’m honest with myself, I know wonderful conservatives and terrible conservatives just as I know wonderful liberals and terrible liberals.

In my daily existence, when a person has offered some reprieve to the endless court dates and meetings and therapies and whatever else an individual child may need, I could not describe that person. I could not predict based on a person’s moral or political proclivities who would stand up and offer hands and hugs and help and who would engage in mortifying behaviors forcing me to stand up for my family and my children in ways I should never have to do.

And based on my conversations with other foster families, our experience is not unique. Some foster families attend church and their churches stood up and helped and some attend church and their churches stood up and walked out on them. Some had no interest in church and God and had many family and friends supporting them who felt the same about religion while others were shunned by their liberal neighbors for helping a child. Or if they weren’t looked down upon, their children were. Their children were treated as problems instead of as victims of circumstance. Instead of truly hearing stories of children and birth families and letting their hearts break to the horrors that the majority of conservative and liberal people will never encounter beyond a news story, these people chose to see money and opportunity and vulnerability believing their words and actions are okay because “it’s just a foster kid.”

The gifts of fostering has been manifold; however, living through the truth that people are just people whether they hate Planned Parenthood or hate FOX News, has been unexpected. Yes, these choices matter in elections and those elected make laws and those laws affect all of us, but in the day-to-day lives of families — whether united by blood or by their hearts — a kindness offered can transcend all of it.

These people, who have stepped up and in and allowed us to continue to be the best foster family we can be, give me hope. Hope that the lines which divide us are less important than what makes us good neighbors, good friends, and finally, what makes us a family.

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RV to The Finger Lakes and The Birthplace of Women’s Rights: Where The Most Important Thing Is The Erie Canal

“Why are you so obsessed with the Erie Canal?” -Me

“Because it comes all the way from LAKE ERIE TO HERE.” -Scott pointing to water

We went off to the Finger Lakes next because I wanted to take the kids to Seneca Falls as well as Harriet Tubman’s home in between the baby’s naps.

We first stopped at Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn, New York. The timeline and tour was wonderful although it wasn’t Tubman’s first or second home in Auburn. We actually toured the Harriet Tubman Home For Aged and Indigent Negroes that she built at 93 years old. What an amazing woman who never stopped giving back to others. No pictures of the house are allowed but the kids loved the experience.

Afterwards, we headed to our campsite on the Lake Erie canal and Finger Lakes (there was a debate as to which one so I’ll go with both if only to placate Scott). The site was one of the most beautiful places we’ve stayed, but the water tasted so bad that I would never go back.

The view from our campsite.
The front of our campsite.
And that island behind them was just a bridge away.
And that island behind them was just a bridge away.
Over the bridge!
Over the bridge!
Scott caught this amazing shot of N running to us to fish.
Scott caught this amazing shot of N running to us to fish.
Or wait, is this one better?
Or wait, is this one better?
Fishing in Finger Lakes
That’s the face of a kid who caste his first fishing pole.
Fishing on the Finger Lakes
Proud mama
Erie canal
We didn’t catch anything but we enjoyed soaking in the beauty of the Erie Canal
Seneca Falls
Some is happy to be able to vote.
I think she would be perfect for the ten dollar bill.
I think she would be perfect for the ten dollar bill.
He's still cute even if he's not a candidate.
We loved wandering around the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

We spent the rest of the day at the Seneca Fall’s farmer’s market in the Women’s Rights National Historic Park before heading north to Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes area is so gorgeous and brought home such inspiring history that my kids have (and will) learn. This could’ve also been a day trip from Niagara Falls if we weren’t negotiating 10-month-old’s sleep patterns and 37-year-old’s obsessions with the Erie Canal.

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I’m Turning 37 Years Old: When Does That Confident Thing Happen?

I’m taking a quick break from our RV trip posts to talk about my thirty-seventh birthday. Even since I turned 35, I’ve felt like my birthdays are harbingers of a new elderly status. Like I’m on the decline with more back pain and less energy and forgetting my kids’ names (Lars? Juno? Wait, the two-legged one).

The last time I remember being sad about my age was when I turned 19 and knew I had 1 more year left to be a surly, angsty teenager. That melancholy lasted through turning 20 since nothing happens at 20. But then legal 21 came and I was happy to age for the next 14 years.

My friends who are older keep posting about feeling more confident and wise now.

I just think that things get easier as you get older and wiser and more experienced. You get more confident about who you are as you get older. I find that really comforting. - Rachel Weisz
Oh, you didn’t know Rachel Weisz and I are friends?

Maybe I’m in between the not-young and the wise. I am more confident in my parenting style and my priorities. I say “yes” and “no” more easily, and my schedule and life are much more inline with who I am today and who I want to be for my family because I don’t want to waste the time I have left.

But I lack confidence in other areas. I still have no idea how to dress for my age mostly because sweatpants are my spirit animal.

My hair is so ridiculous someone asked if I was my son’s big sister.

I wonder how much emphasis to put on a healthy life because I like potato chips and I no longer like running. How much do I give up when I’m almost halfway through my life? Will I regret that donut when I’m 81 years old or be grateful I lived my tastebuds to the fullest?

I finally miss things about being younger. I always had my own style (well by high school), but I had a lot more time to shop. I always had a big group of friends, but with all this talk of villages and parenting, the village of my youth was sleepovers and partying and moving away.  I have friends today whom I love, but I’m not as good at getting close to people anymore, or more accurately, staying close to people. I don’t know why this is but not having a crew shakes my confidence in making new friends. Or means I have to make new friends, which sucks because I’ve gotten really bad at small talk. What I think I really miss is having longterm friends nearby — I want to go to coffee with someone who has known me since before I had kids and could say: “Those shorts are very you, Alex.” Someone who knows my story.

As I’ve aged, what I thought would happen is I would be confident everywhere. “Who cares if I don’t know anyone at the party! I’ll either debate Kirkegaard or the 2016 presidential line-up.” “Who cares if all those moms at school pickup are talking! I’ll walk up to them and join in because I’m awesome.” “Who cares if I’m wearing a shorts from the junior section! I thought they were cute.”

My good friend always tells me to pay attention to what I have rather than what I don’t have, and I know I have so much at 37 years old. I have more than I need and should focus on taking better care of it, but I just wonder how old I have to get to feel confident enough to not be reminded of that.

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