You had a picture in your mind. Even though you heard others say it was going to be hard, you never thought it would be that hard.
But it is. And you're miserable.
Anyone who has ever taken the journey into foster care or adoption has been there. There are adjustments. No matter the age. It's just not as easy as you thought it would be.
That doesn't mean it won't be worth it or that one day it won't be the best part of your life.
It can be the best part. It just takes time.
But not all time is created equal.
Waiting your hard-to-handle child out by leaving them to themselves will not produce the character and relationship you're looking for. It won't reap anything you were hoping for when you started on this journey. This is not idle time I am talking about.
I'm talking about meaningful time and meaningful time is no walk in the park during those early years.
Sometimes, in the drudgery of the early days, meaningful time is hard to find. All you do is correct and teach and wait for bedtime. You don't want to look at her, let alone have to speak to her or listen to her.
You aren't really searching out ways to spend more time with her. Actually, you're scouring the internet looking for vacation Bible schools and summer camps in your area so you can spend less.
I know. I've been there.
That's why I'm so thankful for the automatic, built-in time that I am given every single day to interact with my children.
It's mealtime and it is the backbone of our day.
The girls and I spend most meals around our table. Eating out is a rare occasion, unless we are on the road.
At that table I listen as they talk about the books they are reading or the chemistry chapter that's dragging on or what they found in their latest trip to the garden. They laugh over words used incorrectly or stories about fun times with friends or my newest recipe that went awry. They build relationships with each other at that table.
And they build relationships with me.
Not only do they talk at that table, they listen, too. At that table I have a captive audience. This is when we read the Bible together. This is when we talk about what went right and what went wrong in our day. This is when they hear me tell stories from my own childhood and they learn that I was a kid once, too. This is where character is introduced, through stories and lessons and examples. This is where apologies are made, some by them, but some by me, too.
When I think back on our journey, I'm thankful for all those meals we shared, all the stories they told, even the book summaries that lasted longer than they needed to. Those times are precious and they are fleeting. Don't ever pass up an opportunity to sit down at the table surrounded by your children - even the hard-to-handle ones.
Maybe meal times are hard to orchestrate in your family. Maybe you don't want to spend that time with them.
Do it anyway. Find the time. Make a meal. Sit everyone down together.
If you haven't made a practice of eating together, it might be awkward at first, but keep at it. The awkward silence will fade. Young voices will join older ones. Laughter might make an appearance.
Gather your children around you every single day. Listen to what they have to say. Teach them what they need to know. Enjoy the part that each one plays. Relationships are built with meaningful time spent together.
It is worth the investment.