Recently, on the eve of Grammy’s death, I watched my son, G, playing with his cars. G is named after her. We can’t officially call him by his name full time, because the adoption isn’t final. But soon, it will be, and G will be ours, and our prayers will be answered in full. G is blonde, with thick wavy hair and eyes as blue as my own father’s. He loves music, and things with wheels. I love him, his pudgy knees and the gap between his teeth. I love him with a ferocious pride that keeps me in daily prayers of gratitude. My throat tightens when I hold him to me and whisper my thanks for this child, for the completion he brought to our family.
I knew I had to be a foster mom. I’ve known this for a long time. I tried to avoid it, but at 35, the call was too strong. My husband and I signed up, and joined the ranks of people who choose to care for children whose own families are struggling and bruised. We took in our first placement on Valentine’s Day, 2011. We planned only to foster. This makes us laugh now.
G was mine the second I first laid eyes on him. I was his. At that moment I heard clear as day, a voice say to me, “This is your son.”. I tried to run, tried to avoid this truth for months. Loving him as much as I loved my other children made foster care too scary, the reality that he might leave too painful. At some point, my husband and I just admitted it. He was our son, and somehow, we knew he would never leave us. We sat in faith with this, while others rolled their eyes behind our backs. We were told in foster training that sometimes you just know which children are meant to be yours. I didn’t believe this, but it’s the truth. Sometimes, you are placed with children that are simply meant to be yours, even if they did not come through your body. It is part of some sort of Divine law that perhaps we are not meant to understand, but simply accept. Whatever it is, it means I now have four children.
There were terrible moments as we waited out G’s case. The times he was sent to live with a relative, and then returned. This happened twice in a span of four months. Both times he came back to us, back home. There was dysfunction and drama and lies by his birth mother. There were false promises. There were moments of grace and miracles. Best of all, there was an opportunity to learn how to embrace every second of every day. There was a trial that was so ugly and vicious it took us months to recover from it. We are still emerging from this battle, hollow eyed and bruised, dirty gauze wrapped around our wounds. However, there was an ending, wrapped in a beginning. He became ours, as we had always known he would.
Somehow, we found it in us to keep fighting. This is what we do for our children. We fight, we beg, we barter and plead to keep them safe and healthy at all costs. And there were many costs. Throughout the year and half of being a licensed foster home, our oldest daughter became sullen and surly, feeling she had been left behind. Finally, she left home when she was of age. We are still working to repair that relationship now, knitting it back together with the fragments of blessings we’ve deposited into each others lives along the way. We will get there, we’ve gotten this far. This family knows what wholeness feels like, and we aren’t ones to accept substitutions.
After so many months of fighting, of wrestling with demons, now is our time to rest. It is time to put down our shields, and time to reap. Knowing this, I still find it hard to sit quietly. I find myself spending hours praying and asking for The Next Big Thing. I know the Universe will provide me a task, that nature abhors a vacuum. I know that what is needed is to sit still and breathe, enjoy my new son, and patch things up with my eldest. I am almost embarrassed by my need to find the next thing that will fill my time, my inability to take a break. I need to put myself in a good, long Time Out. I’ve found that when you’ve had fire and fight in you for so long, the embers take time to cool.
Grammy would always laugh at me for being so industrious. She did it in a way that made me know how proud she was of me. She was proud of my children, and of me as a mother. I am glad she got to know her namesake was safe before she died. Grammy often forgot that I got my busy-ness from her. She was a woman who in one day could cook three meals, wash and hang two loads of diapers, rearrange a bedroom with no help just to get a new look, and still had time to wash her childrens shoe laces to keep them white. She herself felt most useful in the role of mother, and she raised four boys who were imprinted by her faith and willingness to get cracking on whatever needed doing, whether it was her own work, or being in service to others.
For now, I am determined to rest and enjoy this this season of calm. G and I will fingerpaint, read books, feed the ducks. The other children and I will make popcorn balls in celebration of Fall. I’ll sit down and sew again, finally finish the pajama pants I’ve been intending to make for my previous foster placements who are now in an adoptive home. Using what I’ve learned over the past two years, I will notice all the small things. The way my oldest boy is starting to fill out his football uniform, the way the girls look at him. The way my youngest daughter is starting to wear her makeup just like mine. The way the kitchen feels at five o’clock when my handsome prince walks in the door and the whole house lights up. I am going to stop, and feel every second of every day.
I’m sure God has something else up His sleeve for me. There is more work to be done, and other ways for me to stay in service. When called, I will do it willingly, even when it’s hard. I know now that He does equip the ones He calls. So, I’m ready when it is my time again. Because my Grammy taught me what to do when the Heavens put something on your To Do list. We put our boots on, touch up our lipstick, and we get to work.