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Love is a Four Letter Word

Driving from work to daycare to a doctors appointment tonight (we have pink eye and an ear infection and the stomach flu at our house this week) I heard this song. It brought tears to my eyes. I've been looking for a way to verbalized my feelings lately and this song lays some of them out there perfectly.

"I Won't Give Up" By Jason Mraz
Hmmmm ... Hmmmm ... Hmmmm ... Hmmm ...

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
Still looking up.

I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

This song is on the album, Love is a Four Letter Word.

My oh my, do parents of traumatized children understand that statement.  Love is such a foreign concept to our kids that it is a negative. So many of them were told they were loved while awful, rotten, unimaginable things were done to them. Some were never held or told they were loved. Love is evil for kids who have experienced trauma. It is not to be trusted. Nor should you trust those people who might actually show you what real love can be like for they too will disappoint and hurt you with it. 

I'm sure the artist chose the title because so often romantic love can be painful.  So can the love between a parent and a child.  Surely, this kind of pain is nothing compared to the actual trauma our children experience but recovering from that trauma and being the person leading them through it is hard, lonely work. Often feeling impossible to do together because the goal of healing for the parent is often at odds with the goal of survival that our children have.  In order to SURVIVE they must not feel love.  And they will do everything they can to make sure you know that your "love" will not hurt them.  

My kids have trauma in their past. Some more than others.  I understand that my kids' behaviors would be considered mild compared to a lot of other kids in foster care.  I'm not into comparing this sort of thing but I mention it to recognize that a lot of other families are dealing with much tougher stuff than we are.  And I'm grateful that those families are willing to be open and honest with their struggles as it allows me to keep looking up and see how far they've come. Because they have not given up.  They have given their love. And their kids have learned to trust it. To believe in it.
This song has become an affirmation to me.  Of how I want to approach this journey on a daily basis.  That on days that I've listened to the 45th minute of screaming rage, handed the 10th time out, refereed the 15th tattling, answered the 100th nonsense question, and doled out the 14th consequence I have something to hold onto.  Because I haven't given up.  Though Lord know I've asked myself if I should.  And the answer back is always a resounding No. Because we're worth it. Because we are an US.  We are a family.  We have love.  It may not always look like the love of other families but its there. 

I am here to stay and make the difference I can make.  After 5 other families tried to do the same thing.  My kids really need to BELIEVE that I won't give up.  Especially when things get rough. The only way to do this is by proving it. Showing up time and time again.  Staying patient.  Giving them their space when they need it. We DO have a lot at stake. We have an opportunity to break a cycle of abuse that has lasted generations.  We have an opportunity to heal hurt inflicted over years. We have the ability to model for four children what health relationships look like so that they can go forward armed with this information for adulthood.  We have the time to be able to make education a priority and college a possibility for four children who had never finished one year in the same school.We have the ability to teach what LOVE is. What it should be.  I am tough enough. I am tough.  I am enough. On days that I question this I look back and see the strides we've made where others failed.  We haven't broken and the world has not caved in even though there were times I was sure it would. Like the day I had to admit Jelly Bean to the hospital or the day Little Mama was triggered and dissociated, and the day that I figured out Gabby was throwing up at visits due to anxiety, and the day of the worst migraine of my life.  We fought through it.  We got up the next day and the next.  And we are stronger for it.  Because I won't give up on us.  I'm giving them all my love.  E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y. Even days that I feel beaten down.  Especially on days that they reject my love and me.  Because that is how I know its working. 


  1. Yes, love is just a word, but love is something you need to prove and show before kids will truly trust you. My partner's daughter and I for example... she has been through a trauma with her father in the past. She has been in my life for 7 years and hasn't fully trusted me yet. She is starting to 'talk' to me more than she ever used to. Trust takes a long time to build. And she is not a foster child, she's my partner's bio daughter. However when I met her she was 8. It's different than with her sister who was 3 when i first met her. In my opinion her abuse from her father had been going on for way too long, not that my partner did not try to stop the abuse, but the system in a way failed her. Yes father is in prison for long time, but it took too long and as my partner says, she never will be the same person again. Once that happens its a long road to trust again.

  2. This is a beautiful post and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time, and the emotion, to write it. The song is perfect and I'm going to have to listen to it often.


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