The other day a friend started a conversation with me by saying, “Have you ever considered having a ‘Dear Maralee’ column on your blog? Or a special Facebook page? Where people can write in to get your advice on parenting?” She then gave me the specifics of her situation (screaming four year-old at 6 a.m.) and we had a good laugh. Screaming kids are always funnier in retrospect. But she got me thinking. Initially I dismissed the idea of a Q and A style series. It seemed a little self-indulgent. Who would want to ask me anything?
And then I remembered why I started writing in the first place. I’d like to make up all kinds of beautiful motivations about “calling” or “passion”, but it really was about simplifying what was already taking place. I was having lots of personal conversations with friends/relatives/friends of friends about parenting, adoption, foster care, and caring for families in crisis. I found myself thinking, “What if I just started a blog so I could answer these questions once and then when somebody wrote me I could send them a link instead of writing it all out again?” and a year later, here we are. So while my writing hasn’t had a strict Question and Answer format, many of my posts are inspired by a question I’ve been asked.
So maybe “Ask Maralee” wouldn’t be such a crazy idea after all.
There sure is a lot I don’t know and lots I’m having fun learning, but I’ve been thrown in to the deep end of the parenting pool enough times that there’s a few things I’ve figured out. I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Teacher Education. I went straight from college and my job as a para educator in a special education resource class (our interview at the children’s home was actually the day after my graduation) to being a housemom in a boys home. At 22 years-old I worked with kids ages 6-18 in batches of 8 at a time. Did I mention we home schooled them? After four years of houseparenting we adopted our son Josh from Liberia, West Africa. About a year later we left group home work, moved half way across the country and I settled into life as a stay at home mom of one. . . for a couple minutes. As soon as we were settled we got our foster license and have been fostering ever since (adding two more permanent members of our family). During all this time (10 years) we struggled with infertility, two miscarriages, and then our surprise baby boy. While our license is current, we haven’t had a foster placement in the last year and half as we transitioned to being a family of six. I continue to stay involved by serving on our agency’s focus group, working with a foster mom support group, writing for several websites, and every once in a while I get a legislative bee in my bonnet and do what I can to advocate with our state senators for the needs of foster children. Oh yeah, and I do radio segments on parenting for our statewide Christian radio station.
My kids aren’t perfect. I’ve mostly learned by making mistakes. I’m thankful that during seasons of frustration and confusion God has provided mentors in my life and wise people who have written books that have been influential. It hasn’t always been an easy learning process, but I have enjoyed it immensely and feel like I am a constant student when it comes to understanding the issues involved in being a parent, an advocate, a woman who wants to honor God.
So does that bring up any questions for you? Anything you’d like to know more about? Any issues you’re struggling with you think I might be able to address?
Let’s try it! Do you have a question about foster parenting? Adoption? Writing? Parenting in general? Maybe you just want my killer meatloaf recipe. As my mom used to say (when I would ask her repeatedly for a puppy), “It never hurts to ask.” Maybe I’ll be able to answer! Maybe it will be too personal for a big blog post, but I can message you privately. Maybe it will be a question I’ve always wanted to know the answer to and I’ll research it with my resources and connections. Nothing is off the table. I’m excited about the first question I’ve already got ready to go, but I want you to add your voice to the conversation! Here’s the form. I look forward to hearing what’s on your mind.