A little bit of brutal honesty here – this parenting stuff is not easy. Sometimes I don’t know how I got here or why I’m doing it.
Here’s what happens. You spend your life putting one foot in front of the other, taking it one day at a time, when suddenly you’re driving down the road with a carful of chatter and realize you’re mindlessly agreeing with the 6-year-old that yep, it is a “green light day” (for the traffic lights), praising the 3-year-old for his song (which was lousy but you just said “good job singing” anyway without thinking), and wishing the 8-year-old would stop screeching randomly.
You realize you’re in a whole new universe that you never imagined. Somehow you’re parenting three little kids who have no biological tie to you and who arrived suddenly in your house with no more than 2 hours to prepare. And somehow you’ve missed a lot of those stages of planning – like the wedding bells, the “what do you think, honey, should we start a family?,” the baby shower, the maternity leave….oh, how I missed out on the maternity leave!
There’s no planning here. There’s a “hello….yes….I’ll come pick him up” and you walk through the hospital doors, up the stairs, turn left to find the nursery, wash your hands and sit down beside the bassinet of your new son. Hello. Click. You’re parenting.
And now you’re spending two hours a night trying to cajole obstinate little ones to close their eyes and sleep, wiping poop off walls, scheduling repair men to replace glass windows, and orchestrating more social events for the kids than for yourself.
It’s not like this was all a big decision or a well-thought-out plan.
It was a moment. The moment when you signed up as “foster parent.” The first step. One foot in front of the other. But there was no understanding of the delirium that comes from sleepless nights. No knowing the pain of watching your boy wheeled off to the operating room. No way to comprehend the depths to which you become depleted and exhausted and stand in the shower and say, “Lord, I just can’t keep doing this” and yet you do.
You keep doing it.
Because you are their mother. Their only mother. The one they call mother. The one they know as mother. And they torture you and tell you how they hate you. And spit in your face. And defy you almost every single chance they can.
And yet, you keep doing it.
For they did not choose this life either. They arrived one day into a whole new universe and bounced around from arm to arm until they landed in yours.
So you keep doing it. Each and every day, you choose to love and you choose to be there and you choose to sacrifice what might have been, what could have been, for what is.
Three beautiful boys, sleeping soundly, because they have a mother.
One foot in front of the other.