‘For all of you potential foster carers reading this; it’s OK to be shattered, it’s OK to want space from the children and it’s OK to seek extra support.’
My name is Tabatha and I have been a foster carer for 6 years.
The young people I have been privileged to meet have often been hugely affected by their life experiences and just want to feel safe. It is fascinating to see what they develop into when you assist them to find their voice! The results may not always be what you like, as they normally need to work through a lot of anger.
Since working for the Compass Group, I have provided a long term home for two sets of siblings, have offered respite for various young people and have supported two young people who were not in main stream schooling to return.
We are proud to be foster carers!
Monday 5th January
I’m writing this blog feeling a total failure at the moment; I’m not sure we are always doing the best we can for the children in our care. Our previous placement has got in contact with us and reached out but we were not able to support her in the way I would have liked due to the commitments to the family and maintaining a professional distance. I never felt the decision of the professionals to cut ties with us was the right one. I am a great believer in a hug can cure most things. I have a friend who told me she was famous for her hugs. She gave me one the other week and I realised that there are varying different kinds of hugs – some better than others. It’s a harsh lesson when the young people realise that you cannot save them and there is no instant cure to how they feel, but a hug if accepted makes you feel secure and enveloped. It does not make the situation right but it’s an act of human kindness which when offered and accepted is deeply moving. I always ask if people want a hug and it’s up to them to agree, most young people crave this and like that they are in charge of deciding.
It’s hard looking after a young person who is in the moment and caught up in their own lives, they want sympathy from us as carers yet offer no empathy when you get burned out. I have been doing this job for 6 years and still do not feel I have got the balance right. Sometimes as a person I want to be hugged and told it will be alright, sometimes I need to be contained because I feel like howling to the moon, but most of all I often wish someone else would just take charge. If I feel like that as a fairly well rounded 42 year old, what must these children be internalising?
In terms of looking after myself, I watch my peers maintaining non-fostering friendships, having evenings out regularly and down time from the job with envy. I worry when I’m not with the children that they are coping and their needs are being met. If I take any length of time away from them I have to be sure that everything is running well. If not I really get it in the neck when I return; the abandonment they feel is tremendous. It’s worse when you are faced with all of the problems that the young people bring and there is so much it’s hard to know where to start. It can be a relief when the smallest thing goes right.
I find myself comparing the fragile 8 year old with the other well-adjusted middle class kids in her class at school. She holds her own most of the time and that gives me immense pride. For all of you potential foster carers reading this; it’s OK to be shattered, it’s OK to want space from the children and it’s OK to seek extra support. I sometimes wish I was swept off my feet and taken to a beach holiday somewhere hot with a cocktail or two!
Note to self: ensure January’s have more activities which are nurturing next year!