Published by PaintingChef on 04 Sep 2013 at 02:21 pm
A more dependable blogger would start this with something like “What a difference a day makes” but alas my sweet chickens, you have me and I will simply say… oh holy balls. I have a three year old. She is funny and sweet and silly and adorable. She has the most beautiful crystal clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen.
And she is kicking my ass.
In foster parenting class, they cover a lot of ground. We learned about discipline, effects of abuse, education, working with schools, navigating the DCS system. We covered first aid and CPR, giving children medication and how to take clues from the child about working with them to settle into a new situation. Good stuff.
But I now realize there was a HUGE component missing.
For the better part of eight years, Patrick and I have been trying to figure out how to become parents. We have built this goal up in our minds to astral heights. Through infertility treatments, I dreamed in pink and blue. I would find myself spending hours looking at nursery bedding and little clothes. I would envision doing things as a family of three (or four or five… fertility drugs man… you never know…) and imagine how great it would be to see Patrick as a dad.
Somehow, through all that, what I managed to forget was that for the first 26 years of my life, I had ZERO interest in being a mother. I crossed the street when I saw the stroller Mafia in my path and as my friends became parents, I mentally crossed them off the list of “people I day drink with on a regular basis”. (PS… that list currently consists of me, Patrick and my mother and I’m pretty sure I have to cross Patrick off. It seems the responsible thing to do. I mean… what if we run out of milk? Kids? They like milk? And it is bad form to send them to the store with five bucks taped to their shirt as that is the type of parenting that landed her in her current situation?)
But in conveniently forgetting that, it allowed me to assume that I would see this small little girl and immediately feel maternal love towards her. I expected to know what to do. I expected… Hello Kitty riding a unicorn and shitting rainbow glitter to magically inhabit my body while I slept? I saw myself scooping her up and slipping into the kind of effortless parenting ballet that I recall absolutely defining my mother. The natural caretaking that I see so many of my friends perform every single day. I don’t know what I expected. But I know what I did NOT expect and that was the… lack of emotion. The fear that Patrick and I had made a horrible, terrible mistake. And that this desire to be foster parents was nothing more than a lark as we flitted from distraction to distraction trying desperately to avoid being actual adults who don’t eat ice cream for dinner or store some of their clean clothes in the dryer.
Of course, I have since learned that I am completely delusional. My friends all struggle. They wonder every day if they are doing enough. Loving enough. Playing enough. There are days that they would all just rather stay in bed with coffee and Veronica Mars. And that paragon of motherhood that I imagine, my own mother? Well apparently, it wasn’t just once I hit 15 and became an epic asshole that she would have paid the gypsies to take me off her hands. Mothers doubt themselves, their abilities and maybe even their decisions to become mothers in the first place every single day. (Says the 35 year old woman who has been a foster mother to a fully potty trained 3 year old for all of 4 days.)
And in those moments when we are filled with resentment and longing for a past life that seems to be slipping further away with every damn second of My Little Pony (My SKANKY Little Pony, by the way), we aren’t, as I cried to my mother on a very difficult morning this weekend, broken. I am not defective. What I am, is human. Normal. And in the middle of some crazy shit. On Friday afternoon, I opened my front door and there was a toddler there. She walked into my door and puked in my hallway. And boom. I was someone’s mother.
I’m just still waiting for the rest of me to catch up. I know we’ll get there. Progress is being made and I feel it a little every day. Do I love her yet? No. I don’t. That’s blunt but it is the truth. I adore her, I want her to be safe and happy and healthy and I want so desperately to keep anything else bad from happening to her. When she is happy and excited telling me about her day, it overwhelms me to hear that little voice and see that big grin. But as I tuck her into bed each night do I say “I love you”? No. I don’t. I’m not there yet and I don’t think she is either.
What I’m learning is that that’s okay. We have to make our own path on this one and we will get to wherever it is that we are supposed to end up. Maybe she is meant to be with us forever and maybe we are just a place for her to hang out while her parents work on their issues so that they can be the parents that she deserves. Because she deserves the world, that little one. And eventually, for however long it is meant to be, maybe I will become the kind of parent that she deserves too.