Monday, January 30, 2012

Little Moments

Little Man has started dancing.  It’s the funniest thing.  He just bops his little butt along to any beat he finds, especially that new Pizza Hut commercial with the guitar.  I know it isn’t a major skill like walking but it’s one of those parenting moments where they make you stop and smile and forget about the fact that you survived from Sunday till Friday on 14 hours of sleep.  To me, those little mile stones are bittersweet.  They are a part of what makes being a foster parent so rewarding.  I experience the joy of watching this little person develop right before my eyes but that means that someone else isn’t seeing what I see.   In a few weeks, he’ll go live with his dad and start this whole new relationship with a year’s worth of missed little moments.
   When I think back on all the moments that have made being Captain’s (my 5 year old bio son) mom the best thing to ever happen to me, it isn’t the baby book milestones.  It’s the time that he asked me to get him a ladder so he could climb up on the roof and practice flying with his Buzz Lightyear wings.  It’s the way he looked when he and his daddy took a nap together in the recliner.  It’s the way his tiny fingers used to wrap around mine.  All those little details are what make being a parent such an amazing thing. 

   I’m glad that Little Man was somewhere safe while his dad worked everything out.  I’m also glad that there were some serious consequences to his actions that will hopefully serve as a reminder to put being a dad before the urge to give in to addiction.  At the same, I empathize for him as a parent.  I can’t imagine all the little moments that he’s missed with this baby.  It must be horrible to know that your actions caused you to miss his first Christmas, first words, first steps and even his first birthday.  For the moment though, I think I’m going to ignore all of that, rewind the TV and dance to a Pizza Hut commercial with my temporary baby boy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Will the real mom please stand up?

   There’s a story in the Bible where King Solomon has to decide who the real mother is of an infant that two women claim.  There were no DNA test back then.  They had both recently given birth.  I’m guessing the baby didn’t obviously look more like one than the other.  There was no real way to know for sure so the whole court stopped to see what the wisest man to ever live would decide.  His answer… cut the baby in half and let each woman have part of him.  Sounds crazy right? But just like he thought, one woman began screaming and immediately tried to relinquish all rights to the baby in order to spare his life.  That one, according to Solomon, was the real mom.  More on this in a minute.

   When Little Miss came to us in September, I gave her a choice to either call me Mommy or by my name.  Within a few days she was calling me mommy and has ever since.  In fact, its something that she’s really proud of.  She doesn’t always talk much but she’s constantly telling people, even strangers, that I’m her mama.  That hadn’t caused any problems until a few weeks before Christmas.  That day, she forgot her birth mom’s name.  I should note that I have never told Little Miss anything bad about BM or asked her to call her anything different.  Anyway, the mom went nuts and yelled at me in front of everyone.  She told me that I needed to start correcting Little Miss whenever she calls me that because SHE is her “real mom”.  (I’m trying to keep this blog family friendly so I’ll spare you what I thought about that.)  I kept my mouth shut and after a few minutes the caseworker finally noticed.  She said I can have Little Miss call me whatever I want.

   Yesterday, when I picked Little Miss up from an especially long and hard visit, she announced to her family that she was “going to go ride in Mommy’s car”.  Birthmom freaked out again and yelled at her.  When she realized that everyone was watching she suggested that Little Miss start calling me Stepmom instead, a suggestion I have no intention of implementing.  So, after that I put my 3 year old in the car and spent the hour long drive home trying to get her to stop crying.  Today’s been even worse.  She’s screamed, kicked, hit, cried and got so overwhelmed she had a seizure because as little sense as this makes to a grown up, it’s even harder for a toddler to understand. 

   Back to Solomon.  He knew who the real mom was because she was willing to be completely devastated for the good of her child.  If a woman is so selfish that she can’t see the pain it would cause Little Miss if I suddenly said she can’t call me mom, than she’s not a real mom.  If she can’t accept that it is not her toddler’s fault she doesn’t know to call her mom, than she’s not a real mom.  If she can’t understand that at some point she should stop dragging her children through the courts when she really has no intention of reform, she’s not a real mom.  I’m sure it completely sucks to hear your baby calling someone else mommy but until she’s willing to suffer because she knows that it means Little Miss is in a family that adores her, she doesn’t deserve the title.  I understand that I’m a foster mom and I have no real hold on my little girl but right at the moment I’m especially frustrated with a system that places the wishes of selfish adults above the rights of an innocent child.  So for now I just rock my temporary baby and assure her that she can always call me mommy, even if it is mommy with an asterisk.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Not Average... Just Normal

I was joking with another foster mom the other day about how much more work our kids are than bio kids.  Our kids are not average.   They have issues and baggage.  They demand more than others their age and have quirks that don’t make sense until you get eye level with them to see how it helped them survive. When it comes to what they require, what it takes to earn their trust and how they process things, foster kids are anything but average.   I remember right after Little Miss came to live with us.  I bought her a high chair for her dolls and was all excited because I was sure she’d love it.  Instead she cried.  My little 2 year old cried because she didn’t have any food to give her baby doll.  Average kids, who have never been hungry, don’t think about things like that. 

                But here’s the thing… my kids are normal.  Little Miss begs tries to negotiate for more stories at bedtime every night just like every other 2 year old.  She is convinced that she is a real princess and twirls around the dining room in her sparkly dresses.  Little Man gets into everything he can just like every other 11 month old.  He wiggles during diaper changes and lays his head on my chest when he’s sleepy.  I kiss their boo boos and pull stickers off the walls.  They run away in WalMart but come running up with sweet hugs and kisses.  We play hours of peek-a-boo with Little Man and cheered when Little Miss overcame her fear of bounce houses.

                Out of everything that I’ve learned during this journey it has been how absolutely normal foster kids are.  They are regular kids with scars from selfish adults who didn’t treat them right.  Like many other people, I was scared of foster kids.  Especially the older ones just seemed too dangerous to have around my family.  True, some of them have worse issues than others but really these are just regular kids that got a rough start.  Not average…  just normal kids.