“The audacity of a child’s demands for love are only matched by the ridiculous depths of the love their parent’s have for them” -Bunmi Laditan
Easter Sunday has come and gone and my favorite and least favorite holiday approaches, Mother’s Day.
I know that Mother’s Day is such a mixed bag for so many moms out there, for the moms that have lost a child, for the moms who long for a child, and for all the moms in between. I’m aware that I’m not the only one with a mixed up heart on this Sunday every year.
I was so excited for my first Mother’s Day. I was young, and I was naive. I was also a foster mom in my first year of parenthood. And at the beginning of April that year I remember telling my husband how cool it would be if we got our first foster care placement before Mother’s Day!
I was so excited about it and sure enough, we got the call in May. I was beyond joyful and walking on cloud 9! Here it was, the beginning of May, and I had a little 4-year-old boy. CYFD told us that the placement was likely leaning towards adoption and told us to prepare ourselves for that route. I marveled at God’s timing. How had He known? Like I said, I was naive. I don’t doubt God’s timing. But we’ve since learned how fickle CYFD is. We’ve learned to take every timeline and every promise with a grain of salt.
We knew the risks of foster care, but we weren’t prepared when the caseworker called a week later to tell us to pack up our foster son’s things so the social worker could pick him up in an hour. He was going home. We were heartbroken. I can’t get into the details of the case. But he was leaving and we had the task of telling our friends and family that we wouldn’t be adopting him. They wouldn’t even get the chance to meet him.
Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it was brutal. I didn’t know if I was a mom. I felt like I was. I was grieving a child that wasn’t mine. But I had bathed and fed him and read him bedtime stories and I had loved him like a mom, if only for a week.
But this was a holiday meant for women who had children, and I had none.
So my first Mother’s Day came and went, and I sat in church and tried my best to smile and to rejoice with those around me. Then I tried my best to put it out of my mind, and I managed.
On my second Mother’s Day, we had a foster teenager on the autism spectrum and we were actively working towards his reunification. I loved this boy with my whole heart and I still do. Our home was a temporary placement for him as well. I was a little bit more prepared for this day, but it still wasn’t enough. While my biggest priority was making sure that my foster son got something for his biological mom, I wasn’t sure what to expect for myself. My husband put together a meal for me with our foster son, and my parents got me a small gift. It was quiet and lovely and a little sad.
I knew that this boy wasn’t going to be mine forever. But I sure wasn’t expecting the ugly comments that come with fostering, as if it isn’t hard enough in the first place. Most people forgot that I was a mom at all, though a few wished me a “happy foster mom’s day.” What is a foster mom’s day? Why is there a need to specify?
This was the first day and the first time I heard “but you’re just the foster mom.”
It came from a coworker after I mentioned the dinner my husband put together. For the second time, I second guessed the title “mom.” I fed this boy. I took him to every doctor’s appointment and therapy session. I made sure we kept up family routines like hiking and pizza on Fridays and pancakes on Saturdays. I knew his favorite foods. I grounded him when he got referrals and showed up to every parent teacher conference. I held him when he cried from being homesick for his bio mom. Still there was that label. “Just” a foster mom.
I wonder if I’ll struggle every Mother’s Day. Or every time I say I have kids at home or that I’m a mom, I wonder if I’ll want to specify and explain and justify so no one finds out that I’m not a “real mom,” whatever that means.
My third Mother’s Day approaches and here’s where I’m at. We are currently fostering a 2-year-old baby girl and we are once again working towards reunification with her family. I love this girl with my whole heart. And in our every day coming and goings I don’t doubt for a moment that I’m a mom. I change her diapers and calm her tantrums and sometimes I sit in her room until I’m falling asleep myself just to make sure that I’m there to pray peace over her in case her nightmares decide to drop in for the night. And I think that in the end, these moments are the ones that matter the most. These are the moments that God uses to calm my own storms when I can’t stop the discouraging and ignorant words from rolling through my mind and heart again.
Really, the gain is far greater than any grief I can endure from the reunification process, and it’s a blessing and honor to be a mom in any form, no matter how you get there.
Thanks to our guest writer, Nicole.
Hi! My name is Nicole and me and my husband are foster parents in rural NM. When we aren’t calming tantrums, handing out snacks, or driving to visits or appointments, we are busy renovating our fixer upper and vloggin on our Youtube channel, Prefab Fam. Above all, we just want to love the Lord and love our neighbors as best we can with the time we’re given.