I didn’t envision my motherhood journey starting out this way. Although, I suspect, you didn’t envision motherhood this way either. Despite our plans, of the nearly 19,000 children in foster care in our state, your baby came to me and in that instant our motherhood journeys collided.
Your baby taught me about all those sleepless nights everyone talks about. I learned that it didn’t matter if coffee was hot, as long as it was caffeinated.
Your baby tested my patience and filled my days with joy. I learned a new level of grace when I was woken up at 3am, for the fourth time, only to find your baby’s eyes light up when I entered the room and felt their head settle onto my shoulder when I picked them up.
Your baby taught me to be less judgmental and more supportive of other parents. It was because of your baby that I was able to support you and pull for you.
Your baby taught me what it’s like to worry about someone every second of the day. I obsessively checked to make sure your baby was still breathing in the middle of the night, even though I could hear them moving around on the monitor.
Your baby dominated my conversations. Suddenly bowel moments, bodily fluids, and tiny developmental milestones were the topics of discussion over dinner.
Your baby called me mom and in that moment, I realized that “mom” is so much more than a name. It’s a role, it’s comfort, it’s unconditional love, it’s not being perfect but being exactly what a child needs, and it’s an honor that I was able to be that person, when you couldn’t be, and an honor I will forever be grateful for.
Your baby amazed me and I told everyone how smart they were. Their resilience and trust in a difficult situation inspired me.
Your baby changed my life and how I lived it. Life no longer revolved around my schedule or my needs. Even when they weren’t with me, I was thinking about them and trying to plan my day so that when I was with them, I could dedicate all of my time to them.
Your baby taught me that parenting isn’t easy, despite how simple it seemed when I had no children. It turns out babies really will refuse naps, scream over sippy cups, avoid foods they loved only the day before, and screen time really will save your sanity, even if it is supposedly destroying their little brain.
Your baby made me realize what is truly important. Babies don’t care about cute clothes, handmade moccasins, high-end nursery décor, or piles of toys. Babies need love, comfort, and security. The rest doesn’t matter.
Your baby taught me all the things a child teaches their mom — empathy, selflessness, and an all encompassing love that can’t be put into words. I wanted to do more, help more, care more, because of your baby.
Your baby is the first thing I think of when people ask me how I do this, don’t I get attached, isn’t it so hard. Because I know if I didn’t do this, I’d never would have had the opportunity to see them smile, to rock them to sleep, to hear them giggle, or to have them tell me they love me. Your baby is worth all the heartache.
Your baby made me a better person. They taught me lessons that no amount of higher education could teach me. Thanks to your baby, I will be a better mother to all the children that will follow.
Your baby taught me how fast time goes and how precious each day really is. This lesson became even more apparent on the day I had to say goodbye.
For a month, for a week, for a moment, your baby made me a mom. I never expected I would get to parent your child. I never thought that the first baby I’d rock to sleep would be yours. People tell me it’s different when you have your own child. But I’m not so sure. Because your baby loved me like I was their mama and I had no choice but to love them as if I was. And I was, for all 9 of them.
Although we never planned on this, you and I, I’ll always owe a piece of my heart to you for creating the child that made me a mama, even if for only a moment.
May is National Foster Care Month. To find out how you can become a foster parent or help those in need, visit www.childwelfare.gov.