I recently started a quest with my 16 year old son to complete three endurance obstacle course races within one calendar year. The shorter of the races is three to five miles with 20-25 obstacles; and the longest is 12 to 14 miles with 30-35 obstacles. Then there is one somewhere in the middle of those two. One really important piece to know is that you don’t really know how far the race is or which obstacles you will encounter until race day. Some obstacles are even kept secret from you until you round a corner and see it in front of you. What is the penalty for failing an obstacle, you ask? Thirty burpees [a grueling combination of a plank, push up and jump]! This is the daunting quest my son and I started earlier this year. And I am happy to report that we only have one race left and it is the shorter of the three!
One of the things that I enjoy most about these races is that participants are encouraged to assist and help other racers. My son is way faster and has more endurance than I do. However, for the time being, I am still stronger than he is. Therefore, I help him out along the way. Also, during his first race, I did a few of his penalty burpees. The most recent race we completed was the longest of the three. I am proud to say that my son (with a little help and coaching from me) completed the race penalty free.This may sound weird to you but when another racer asked how we did that day I almost teared up with pride in my son’s accomplishment as I bragged about his penalty free race. His accomplishment made me happier than the fact that I simply finished the race--the hardest physical challenge I have endured in my 45 years of life.
I wanted to share this with you all as an analogy for what Family Care Network Social Workers have to offer in our work with resource [foster] families. We go on the journey with our resource families step-by-step, mile after mile. The sole purpose for us being on the race course is to support, encourage and assist them.
We start by making sure that our resource parents are race ready. Some may be able to run the long race first, while others may be better suited to start with the shorter. Our goal here at FCNI is to not ask resource parents to do more than they are capable of.
Once out on the course we are arm-and-arm together, giving coaching tips and reminding the resource parents that no one knows what may be around the next turn. When the unknown obstacles become known, we are there to help do the heavy lifting. When a resource parent has a misstep or falls down, we are there to help them up. We are also available to share in the completion of “penalty burpees” because we know the resource parents did the best they could. Our motivation for all this is to see our resource parents succeed in ways that we cannot; to see them accomplish things that we never could.
Now there are people who run obstacle course races on their own. However, a resource parent should never have to run their race alone or ever feel like they are running it alone. I am constantly awe struck by the abilities and attitudes of our FCNI resource parents. So, when you see me tear up a little when I talk about one of our resource families, you now know they are tears of pride and joy. Not in what I have accomplished, but in what they have accomplished.
If you have ever thought about being a resource parent and said to yourself, “I could never do that.” I have a suggestion. Try adding one word to the end of that sentence. Say, “I could never do that alone.” Now you know you don’t have to do it alone because FCNI will start and finish the race you choose to run. Whether that race is working towards adoption or being an Intensive Services Foster Care family, we are familiar with the course and will help get you across the finish line.
If you are interesting in learning more about our Foster Parenting opportunities, please visit FCNI.org or call (805) 781-3535!