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Red 40 Dye

I’ve never felt anxiety at this capacity before. As a parent prior to foster care, I have worried if my children will make good friends, good choices, go to college, etc. But I have never had a crippling fear of failure for my children until we adopted, and now I am constantly at war with myself, wondering if I am the one failing. Am I too hard, too easy, have them involved enough, putting too much on their plate, speaking of plates should I cut out red 40 dye or is their hyperactivity simply because they are freshly turned 4 years old?

I debate cutting out the dye because it’s all the talk, and I am a fixer. The natural instinct in me to fix them pours out, I’m talking nagging correction over every behavior, hyper-vigilance of every step they take. But at night when I pray over my family, my focus is on fixing myself. I plead for eyes that see my children exactly how they are and delivering a caregiver that helps them work through their story. My beautiful children do not need my fixing, they are not broken in the ways I worry. They just need me to love them the same way I have done before, so I let my guard down and occasionally give them fruit snacks which contain red 40 dye. The result, they pull a stool next to me and beg to help pack their school lunch every morning. It’s deja-vu and can instantly bring me to tears thinking of the parallel bond with my now grown, successful children.

You would think that as someone who aged out of foster care myself, and who raised three other children with a 10 year age gap, I would be privy to some secret of being the best caregiver, but I have nothing. I can only say that even I frequently obscure their actual needs while slipping into fix-it mode and make their story my mission to correct. I have to remind myself daily of the actual mission I signed up for, being a safe person for my child. This helps save me from myself, and shifts the fixing to internally.

I’m not saying you need fixing, or maybe I am because we can all use a reality check from time to time, but when you are in the thick of caring for a child from a broken background, try to see them wholly. Relinquish all the anxieties you have for them for a brief moment and sit with the idea that they are yours, and you are their safe person. Continue to do what you need to be that safe person, whatever that looks like for you, and that will be your best work. You might just find small doses of red 40 filled fruit snacks are the safest way to encourage good behavior for 5 mins so you can take a shower and begin the work on YOU, and that’s ok. 

Much love - Deena

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