I read a post by the fabulous Redneck Mommy yesterday and it struck a chord with me. I encourage you to go and read it here. In fact, while you’re on her page, read her story. This is a woman and a family that have endured some unthinkable things and still continue to press on.
Tanis said things that I think about all the time. She’s adopted her child, so her story is different from mine. But I too struggle with the other Mom’s in my life.
I’m a foster parent. I have the honor of raising children that have been pushed aside or had to take a backseat to addictions and abuse. They quite often are a product of tragedy or terrible circumstances. They don’t have other family able to care for them anymore or their “issues” are too scary for people to take on. Whatever the reasons are, I’ve come into their lives because there’s no other options available. I am their 2nd or 3rd or 15th chance at a normal life. But, I am not their Mom.
We’ve had dozens of children live with us, and every single one of them still had involvement with their real Mom’s. On one hand I’m happy that they have contact with their bio-parent because that’s important, but it also makes it a lot tougher for me. I’m the one that “goes against” their real Mom … not because of what I do, but because of the place I’ve taken in their life. I am always the other parent, even though they’re in my care 99% of the time. I am everything they wish their real Mom would’ve been. They want their Mom holding them and loving them, they don’t want me.
I’m the one that parents them, sets rules and gives them expectations, all things that they know nothing about. I’m the voice that tells them things that they’ve never even heard before. “You are only a child, you don’t have to take care of yourself. You may not go for a walk at midnight, you can’t spend the night at your girlfriends house because you’re 11, drinking and smoking do not make you cool, and neither do drugs. Yes, you need to wear socks and underwear and no you can’t just steal something because you like it. I’m sorry that’s how you used to do things, but we’re going to try something new now”.
I’m the one that wakes them from their screaming nightmares. I’m the one driving them to counselling appointments in hopes of repairing some of the damage that’s been caused by others. I’m the one fighting for justice for them. It’s me listening to their stories of abuse, horror and betrayal. You’ll find me sitting at doctors appointments, or waiting in the lobby at the dentist or optometrist. It’s me begging teachers for a second chance or going to court to learn the terms of probation. But still, I’m not their Mom.
Some of my days are so incredibly difficult and trying that I can’t even put them into words. My heart breaks for them and what they’ve been through, but somehow I still have to reach them. I spend hours and hours trying to piece together their past and figure out the reasons for what they do and how to help them work through it all. I fight everyday to teach them a new way of thinking and to show them a better way of living. I struggle with making them feel safe enough that they’ll let their past experiences go.
Then there’s the weekly visits with “Mom”, and everything that I’ve worked so hard for is questioned. My parenting style, my rules, my choices for them are judged and quite often ridiculed. They end up being showered with candy, and treats and zero expectations. I quickly become the bad guy again, and again, and again.
But I know that this is all that they have with her and that’s all she has to give them. I know that her heart breaks for all that she’s lost with them, and I hope that if she could go back and choose differently, that she would. I also know that it’s easier to make me out to be the bad guy instead of taking all the blame for herself. And well, I guess I’ll take that.
While you live with your regrets, bad choices and the ability to bash me, I’m raising your babies. I’m watching them grow and change. I’m seeing breakthroughs and changes that I once never dreamed were possible. I’m watching the child that didn’t hardly speak for 6 months now sing and talk so much that we have to bribe her to just shush for a minute. I’m at their award ceremonies and cheering them on at sporting events. I’m telling them that they don’t have to love me, because it makes them feel unloyal to you. I’m encouraging them to forgive you and all your mistakes. I’m giving them permission to not call me Mom because they already have one.
So, I give you that. You can be their Mom. Please know that I will never disrespect you to them. I will love them like my own and I will raise them to the best of my ability. I promise you that they will leave me better than they came.
I will honor you as their Mother. But while they are with me, they are MINE.
*I must say that not all of my experiences with Bio-parents have been bad, and I’ve also had kids that have amazing extended families. This was just me clearing my head of 13 years of being Mom Number Two.
This post is Day 15 of the Summer Blog Challenge – 31 posts in 31 Days
Please visit my fellow challenge bloggers and read their stories.