So what do foster parents do when they need to rest, recharge or deal with a virus? They reach out to the wonderful people who do RESPITE. Respite is defined as a short period of rest or relief from something difficult. Yet if you ask any foster parent, it is a service that is so very much more. If it were up to foster parents, they would win the Oscar for “Best Supporting” role every single year!
Parenting children is “heartwork” and hard work. The latter of the two can take its toll on a person, a relationship or a family.
Our health and the health of our relationships, our ability to parent has to be intact so we can be there for our children. When we are so drained we can’t be the spouse, partner, mother, father we know we can be, then our children suffer the consequences. When you care for people, it’s not all about being with them; it’s about being there for them. When we reach out to a respite angel for that needed break or help in a situation, we take the needed steps to being there for our children in so many ways.
Our respite angels at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services are some of the most unselfish, giving people you will ever see. They will take a child for a night, a weekend, several days or more than a week. They will shower the children with attention, love and experiences, often paying out of their own pockets. They give security and comfort to the foster parents leaving the children in their care. Foster parents don’t have to leave a litany of explanations as to why their child says or does certain things because our respite angels “get it.” They understand our children.
They are the grateful answer when foster parents are saying:
- “I just can’t …”
- “Would someone please …”
- “We need help finding someone to …”
So in the words of Academy Award-nominated actress Viola Davis,
“YOU IS KIND.”
“YOU IS SMART.”
“YOU IS IMPORTANT.”