Dave Grohl is a genius.
He sings my heart, and his voice is one of my favorite sounds. (Especially when he screams.) I have several beloved Foo Fighters songs, but one that has always made me cry is “Best of You.”
The first time I heard it, I really only paid attention to the chorus, which asks, “Is someone getting the best of you?”
I thought it was a profound, beautiful question, and I assumed that it was asking if you were giving your whole self, your “best,” to someone you loved. When I hear it, I always think of my husband. I ask myself if he’s getting the best parts of me, if he’s bringing those best qualities out of me, so hearing that question sung always brings tears of mingled conviction and love. It makes me stop and examine myself. It makes me want to be a better person, to love him the best I can.
May is both National Foster Care Month and when Mother’s Day occurs, so this question has weighed heavy on my heart: Is someone getting the best of you?
I’ve got another confession to make: Having a young foster daughter has been trying. She is constantly redefining love for me in confusing and frustrating ways, and lately, I haven’t been able to give her the “best of me.” I haven’t always wanted to, to be honest. Things have been exhausting and hard, and I have found myself wondering if I am emotionally strong enough to do foster care anymore. At times, she is downright cruel to me. At times, I am downright cruel back. (We both have hearts to protect, after all.) So listening to the song again lately has given it new meaning: “Is someone getting the best of you?”
Yes. Someone is.
She is “getting the best of me,” in the other sense of the phrase. She is gaining an emotional advantage over me, and I find myself scrambling to keep her from doing it, so the cycle of cruelty continues. We exist in a strange tension of suffocating closeness and cool indifference, and we are each trying to one-up the other, to have the upper hand, to hoard our love instead of sharing it. So I am acting like an eight-year-old. I’m engaging in this awful dance on her primitive level, and it’s embarrassing.
I am ashamed of myself.
I want to do better. I want to be the saint I’m often made out to be by virtue of being a foster parent. (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “You’re a saint” in regards to our fostering. It’s a daunting compliment.) But right now, I am no saint. I am a mess. I am plagued by self-doubt and discouragement.
I’m a human being. So is she. That little girl is torn between two worlds, and her confusion and pain are coming out in ways that frustrate, annoy, provoke, and hurt me. The unspoken question of, “Will we still be this family in six months?” is the proverbial elephant in the room. The closer we grow, the larger that elephant grows. It is a terrible ratio, and it is impossible to ignore.
I’ve been reacting in ways that are not giving my “best to her.”
We’ve reached a level of closeness and comfort that is scaring us both, and there is no deadline, no closure, no assurance that we will still be together in six months, so it is easier for both of us to shut each other out than to invest any more of ourselves into this uncertain relationship. We are tied together yet separately bound.
I’m letting the stress and circumstances get the best of me.
And that’s keeping her from getting the best parts of me.