In the down weeks and months, the times when we aren’t actively caring for foster kids, I lose my mind.

Reality fades away and I imagine a world where Jonathan and I have some idea of what we are doing. Where we aren’t necessarily great foster parents, but we’re okay.

My confidence grows as I remember that we’ve done this a few times already.

Simultaneously, conveniently, forgetting the times we weren’t sure we could keep doing it.

Instead I focus on all that we’ve learned over the years. After all, we’ve stopped bribing kids with money to be good. We fight far fewer battles over food. We don’t even put 16 things on the calendar every weekend.

We’re slower to anger. And faster to ask for help.

We give more space and time and grace to our kids and to ourselves. Realizing everyone is adjusting to a lot.

These are all true and good. And make me realize how wildly unprepared and arguably bad foster parents we were to begin with.

So yes, objectively we’re getting better.

But still hopelessly naive. And fostering a teenager was just the wake-up call needed to realize even after four years, we’re complete amateurs at this.

With a lot to still learn.

In my newfound moment of clarity, I suspect we always will.

It’s proving true that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t.

And we don’t.