People often ask me why I started fostering.
It's a hard question to answer, but only because if I decide to answer it honestly it ends up sounding as though I'm actually asking whoever has asked the question why they themselves haven't started fostering.
"If you haven't started fostering, my question is why not?"
Look, of course it's impossible for some people. They might not have the space or might be having a turbulent time.
And some people probably aren't cut out for it.
But if I find myself talking to someone who had a spare bedroom - especially for example if they are going through 'empty nest syndrome' - and their family life is reasonably settled, and (crucially) they like children...then yes, I truly wonder why they aren't doing it.
Not that I'm critical, don't misunderstand; I recognise it looks like a big step, scary even.
But take a typical Monday morning. We're all a bit downed by it, I'm just back from the supermarket, the lady on the till was all Monday morning.
Only I wasn't. I went along with the game, because it's a good game, Monday morning moaning, but my heart wasn't in it.
I love Mondays, especially when the schools have broken up.
The house is a home; full of people who are happy (or at least happier) because there's no school.
One of mine has got a big day planned with a friend, all mapped out; several firsts (first solo bus trip, first visit to a sit-down cafe,) and is excited, nervous and proud. And I get to share it (at a remote distance).
Another of mine intends to stay in bed until about lunchtime, because he can.
Tomorrow I'll get "I'm bored" right left and centre and hey, that's great, because they are asking me to play with them, or at least come up with stuff to do. Baking, painting, hide and seek, chase, pirates, living-room-parkour, den-building - and that's just at home and in the garden.
Fostering beats away the Monday blues even on a school day, there's so much to do you can't start feeling sorry for yourself.
A lot of people feel sorry for themselves because deep down they suspect they haven't fulfilled their potential. The lady on the supermarket till, I mentioned to her that one of my real children is worried about not doing anything in life. She replied "God I know the feeling, I'm 53 and I haven't done anything in life!"
When we're young we dream of being pop stars or millionaires. As we grow we realise that (though that would be nice), it's even more rewarding, more uplifting, to do something substantial for someone else.
That's fostering, that's largely what drew me to it.
When I look back I remember the first time I learned that there was such a thing as fostering, and thought to myself;
"I bet I'd be okay at that, I reckon it would be tops, wonder if I'll actually ever do it?"
Well, I think I am okay at it ( no more than that, no smugness here), it is tops (yes it has its bottoms moments too) and yes, I did do it, and I'm skipping this Monday morning because I did actually do it.