Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for many people. You can’t acknowledge the beauty of a mother without also recognizing the loss of so many who cannot be with theirs, for whatever reason. Maybe some are separated by miles, separated by death, separated now because of social distancing, or separated because of trauma of some kind. Mother’s Day, although great for so many reasons, can be especially hard for our children.
In a time when our children are unable to be with their biological mothers, for whatever reason, we are so thankful to have wonderful, diligent, loving, and compassionate Cottage Moms to stand in the gap for our kids. These women do so much for our children to care for them until they can, hopefully, go back home again. We asked them to share their hearts and passion with us this week. And we are so grateful they have.
How long have you been a Cottage Parent? Why did you decide to become one?
Ms. Emily – Four years.
Ms. Yvette – Three and a half years. I became a Cottage Parent to make a difference in the lives of our youth.
Ms. Madison – Four months. Definitely God-led and God-inspired!
Ms. Melissa – A few months at Crossnore. Before that, three years at Grandfather Home. Helping kids is my passion.
Ms. Dora – Three years in June.
Ms. Katie – Three years. I fell in love with campus when I took a tour!
Ms. Kassie – Since February of this year. I have a desire to foster children, but am not in a stage of life where I can foster my own, so this is a perfect opportunity for me!
Ms. Elaina – Since June of 2018. While searching for jobs after graduating, I ran across the posting for this position. After talking with some people and a big “God moment,” I applied and was offered the position. I have always known that I wanted to work with children and families in some way and was thrilled when this opportunity presented itself.
Ms. Jessica – Four months. I just love kids and have been wanting to work with children in foster care for a long time.
What is your favorite part of being a Cottage Parent?
Ms. Emily – I love seeing a child realize they have grown in being responsible and making good decisions. I love watching a child know he or she is loved and cared for, important, and worthy.
Ms. Yvette – Creating memories that the children (and I) will remember for a lifetime!
Ms. Katie – The opportunity to take care of “my” kids and love them while they’re here. Getting attached. 🙂
Ms. Jessica – Getting to show the kids one-on-one attention, seeing growth in them, and just goofing off and having fun together.
What are some of the struggles?
Ms. Emily – Having to hold the children accountable, so the child can learn to make good decisions. Teaching them that they are in control of their own choices, which will result in either positive or negative consequences.
Ms. Madison – Navigating the teens turning into 18-year-old “adults,” and how to work with them as they step into adulthood.
Ms. Melissa – The heartbreak of learning their stories/trauma.
Ms. Dora – Having to say goodbye to the kids when they leave the program.
Ms. Kassie – Being in a cottage with littles makes it hard to find sleep!
Ms. Elaina – It’s difficult emotionally. Each day I carry the burdens of what each child has been through.
What is a “day in the life” like for you?
Ms. Emily – It starts with prayer and is filled with opportunities to overcome many challenges and walk in love, then ends in prayer. Basically my days are sandwiched in prayer!
Ms. Madison – B.C. (Before Corona): Up at 6:30, kids’ medications, breakfast, out the door at 7:30. Then school, therapies, paperwork, appointments. Kids come home and then teens off to work in the afternoons. Finding things to do on the weekends! A.C. (After Corona): Out of bed by 9 and starting schoolwork. In the afternoons, usually hiking or playing sports outside, Quite a few of them like to craft while watching movies at night.
Ms. Kassie – Waking up to make breakfast, helping with schoolwork (for four elementary children and one middle school child) while the other Cottage Parent keeps the three preschoolers and the baby occupied. Next we eat lunch and do various fun activities during the afternoon like crafts, bike riding, and water games. Then we do bath/shower time, eat dinner, and do some chores. Our cottage loves to have a movie night as a special treat after dinner. Then I pray with each child before bed!
What phrase do you find yourself repeating over and over again?
Ms. Emily – “It’s your choice. Are you sure that’s what you want to choose?”
Ms. Yvette – “We all come from different paths.”
Ms. Madison – “Guyyyyyyysssss. Come onnnnnn.”
Ms. Melissa – “We don’t do that.”
Ms. Dora – “Watch your mouth!”
Ms. Kassie – “If it’s not food, it doesn’t go in your mouth.”
Ms. Elaina – “Did you brush your teeth?” And as of late, “Go wash your hands.”
What are you “known for” around the cottage?
Ms. Yvette – Being the cool/laid back cottage parent.
Ms. Madison – Getting us out of the cottage – hikes, picnics, taking drives and listening to music!
Ms. Dora – Being very loud!
Ms. Katie – Messy buns, pajamas as daywear, being a good listener, and making “near-perfect” pancakes. 🙂
Ms. Kassie – Always drinking coffee!
Ms. Jessica – How much I love Jesus!
What “Mom super power” do you have?
Ms. Emily – Knowing what the kids are going to do it before they do. I love hearing, “How did you know that?”
Ms. Katie – I am super efficient (and unfortunately, super experienced) at lice treatments. I also go hard in the paint for birthdays.
Ms. Kassie – Being surprisingly good at this whole homeschooling thing!
What “Mom advice” do you share with the kids?
Ms. Emily – You can only control what you do and how you respond, not how someone else reacts. Also, guard your heart.
Ms. Yvette – Live your life to its fullest potential.
Ms. Madison – Having a good schedule and a clean house every night before you go to bed helps make peaceful mornings.
Ms. Dora – It’s not what you do, but how you do it.
Ms. Katie – Focus on what you can control, and don’t let other people become obstacles between you and your goals.
Do you have a funny cottage story to share?
Ms. Madison – I might have possibly started a prank war with another cottage on April Fool’s Day. My girls got the Edwards Cottage kids with water balloons and gravy powder.
Ms. Melissa – There was this one time one of my kids pooped in the heat vent…
Ms. Katie – A few years ago I was working in a cottage where we had seven or eight kids, a few of which were pretty high needs plus a toddler. Things were always sort of chaotic.
M, our eight year old girl to me: Ms. Katie, do you have a hairbrush?
Me (distracted , trying to get the toddler in her car seat): What? Hang on a minute.
M: But do you?
Me (confused and eye-balling M’s hair, which looks passably brushed): Not in the van, but I have one in the cottage.
M (pauses, giving me a once-over, then gently says): … then why don’t you use it?
Ms. Kassie – Our little two year old calls every single drink I have in my hand “Kassie coffee.” One morning I was a little grumpy because I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and it’s like he knew! He looked at me and said, “Kassie coffee?”
What advice would you offer to other moms?
Ms. Yvette – Live every moment. Laugh every day. Love beyond words.
Ms. Madison – Christ is my center, my strength, my wisdom and my Rock. Even when it has been an absolutely ridiculous day, I rest in Him and revive myself for the next day.
Ms. Katie – Be kind and patient – with yourself as much as with the kids. Also, I highly recommend Love and Logic training (free this month!). “I love you too much to argue with you.” This and handing others’ problems back, in a loving way, have changed my life.
Ms. Kassie – Be gracious to yourself and to your kids. There are going to be rough days, and that is okay!
Ms. Jessica – Grace, grace, and more grace. Be patient. Let kids feel free to make mistakes, affirm and encourage them often, and don’t take everything personally.