This was it! We were about to start our first hosting for a weekend. I brought my nearly 2-year-old daughter to do the pick-up of a 2.5-year-old. He was bigger than I had imagined – closer in size to my 4-year-old, but I figured we could manage. The drive home was tense, as he constantly tried to kick and hit my daughter in the car seat next to him but I tried to remain calm and tell myself that it was just a stressful transition. After we got home, it was a bit like having a tornado strike. Toys were flying, chairs were being knocked over, water was pouring from the refrigerator as he held down the water button.

Within 20 minutes of his arrival, I was in the kitchen crying. My mind was racing and I panicked at the thought of the weekend ahead of me. It might not have seemed all that daunting except that my husband was going to work all weekend so I was on my own. Alone with a 2.5-year-old who scared me and seemed to have it out for our daughter. As I stood there crying, my 4-year-old came in, took one look at me and said, “Someone needs to pray for Mommy right away!” I kept whispering “I can’t do this. I can’t be alone. I can’t do this by myself.” Hearing my son’s and my own words, was a wake-up call. In a way, I was right, I couldn’t do this alone. I needed help. I began by praying fervently to God that He would help us get through the weekend. And then I felt a calmness and a vision of an old-fashioned Rolodex, which I took to mean that I needed to start flipping through my contacts and figure out who I was going to call for back-up. I wasn’t very good at asking for help, but I needed support. I decided I would reach out for help for every hour that my husband was gone.

Holding back tears, I called my sister and asked her to come for half a day without her daughter. Done. Next, I called our babysitter and asked if she would come for the second half of the day to watch my kids while I spent time with our host child.  Done. I was feeling more confident that I could get through this. One more day to figure out. I felt I could manage to get them all to church but the transition home would be a hard one. So I called a member at our church who hosts with TFG and asked if she would come home with me and help me get through lunch and into naptime. Done. Every hour accounted for. I would not be alone. 

The rest of the weekend mostly went without a hitch. All those times where the 2.5-year-old had undivided attention, he was a typical kid: smart, fun, loving and a little bit mischievous. I enjoyed being with him. Splitting the kids up eliminated the fear and allowed for a safe home for everyone. And my kids didn’t seem to think it was odd at all that we had extra adults around all weekend. Our first hosting came to an end and while I breathed a deep sigh of relief, I also felt proud that we had gotten through it. 

Looking back, I think God used those first 20 minutes of the hosting to teach me and shape me for all future hostings. The experience taught me to lean on Him first. It also taught me that I can’t do this alone, nor should I feel like I have to do it alone. It was incredibly humbling to ask for help, but that’s not a bad thing. It was a good reminder that families we serve may not have anyone they can call on for help. We are their support and possibly provide hope that things will be okay. They might not be able to depend on their family, church members, or pay a babysitter for a much-needed break. The work we do as host families matters, and if asking for help is what it takes to do it, reach out. You won’t regret it.