Mother’s Day as a foster mama gets complicated
By Brittany Keeperman,
today at 9:45 pm
today at 9:45 pm
What is motherhood when the children you are mothering aren’t your own, yours to keep?
It’s been a few months since our youngest two left and while 99% of the time I feel 99% at peace with the fact that they have moved on, there are moments when it hits me all over again. I went to Target yesterday to pick up some groceries. My heart dropped and feet stopped when I passed the toddlers clothing section.
I remembered being here in December, a toddler still at home, happily browsing Christmas dresses and footie pajamas. That was the day actually when the Medicare people called to take inventory on the children in my home and as I looked at tiny clothes I detailed medical concerns, developmental delays, behavioral issues, past traumas to the impassive worker on the other end of the phone.
I left Target yesterday and tried to shake the gloom, unsuccessfully, Mother’s Day approaching.
I was doing some housework with my remaining daughter and came across a folder and several preschool art projects completed by my former foster son. We talked a little bit, about missing them, about the projects left behind. I stored the folder in the cabinet where the mountain of paperwork that’s related to these children that pass through our home lives.
Mother’s Day in recent years has been painful for me. Last year around this time we were coming down from yet another failed IVF cycle and gearing up to become licensed foster parents. My step kids are a constant, yes, but we don’t see them enough and I am certainly not their mother.
This year, I still feel like, “not a mother” and the imposter syndrome is wearing on me. Yes, the two kids who called me “Mama” for nine months are gone but one remains, after all and there will likely be more to come in the future.
Our daughter is excited to celebrate Mother’s Day with us. There are cards, and planned baking projects, a nice dinner ahead. She is also sad, crying at bedtime over not getting to see her biological mother on Mother’s Day. A phone call is all they get with each other and it takes a toll.
She has been acting out all week and we have to deal with the fallout, because that’s what mothers do.
I share the title with a woman I have only met briefly, talk to every so often. A woman who has made choices I try not to judge too harshly, but at the same time cannot fathom. A woman who brought this energetic, loving, outgoing little girl into the world and inevitably into our lives.
Mother for a time, but not forever, not the only.
I know this is what foster parenting is. We signed up for it. But it doesn’t make it any easier to make sense of in my heart, particularly when I know this is likely the closest I will get to motherhood given my defective uterus and unpredictable hormones, not to mention limited financial and emotional resources to pay for more rounds of IVF or surrogates.
I feel privileged and burdened at the same time. All I want is a normal, light, happy Mother’s Day uncomplicated by trauma and mixed emotions, longing and grief, missing family members.
I’m sure my daughter wishes for the same thing, with her biological family. But that isn’t what foster care is, now is it?