What is it really like?

I was at the Foster Parent Appreciation dinner last night. They were doing awards and going on about this parent who is getting a 10 year award. Bunch nice complements but then they said “And 30 out of 40 just know her as the MAPP/GPS trainer” I literally looked at my table mates and said out loud “Crap they are talking about me” The whole room burst out .laughing. The home finders said “Well who did you think we meant?”

I was embarrassed but mostly thought “You know all those wonderful things are not me. I mean they are I did them but that is not me, not really.” I could not put it to words, my friends tell me it is humility but whatever it was 10 years and 27 kids later I did know for sure I was not all that. I returned to the table and one of the newest foster parents said to me “What is it like to be you for real though. I mean when you are not standing in front of the class. What is it really like?”

I thought a moment:

Some days it is dark. I doubt myself, my abilities and capabilities. I hate myself for being who I am and for not being able to do this parenting thing right even though I have no idea what right looks like. I hate my life for taking me into being “sterile” as my mother says. I hate that I loathe the thought of a partnership even though logically I know it could be easier. I hate myself because I am me. I hate that my kids have diagnoses that can’t be fixed, outgrown and will require lifelong support. I hate the choice I made to foster, to adopt.

Some days it is sad. I grieve the loss of my own fertility ability. I grieve the loss of friends who could not deal with the challenges of having a child with needs that REQUIRE my attention. I grieve the losses that come with having special needs children. I grieve my life before children, the freedom and the monetary excess. I grieve the loss of my dreams of what I thought being a parent would be. I grieve the loss of my children’s innocence and wonder. I grieve the loss of their first love. I grieve for parents who struggle so hard as I care for their children.

Some days are angry. I am angry at myself, my children, my family of origin my life. I am angry at my children’s abusers and the loss of their innocence. I am angry that you make assumptions about me because I am the parent of “that child” or “those children” I am angry because I am angry

Some days it hurts. I hurt for my kids, their lives before me, their lives with me and  the bullies they face each day. I hurt for my kids victims and their parents who don’t understand “why this happened.” I hurt from the glances I get from strangers and people I know when my child is not being a model citizen. I hurt from having to keep my mouth shut and not say what I feel when a birthparent or another parent does something stupid. I hurt when I lie  to a child to protect them from the truth that they are too young to understand. I hurt when they hit, kick, scratch, punch and bite me. I hurt when they scream, swear and remind me how “not real” I really am.

Some days are happy. I can remember the little things. I manage my expectations. I keep my temper. I nail that parent thing. I “get” my kid. I make a good decision. I see the happiness in their eyes. I delight in their laughter. I don’t regret my choices. I get a long “nuggle” on the couch.

Some days are amazing. My kids master a task. My kids achieve a goal. My kids experience success. My kids experience usual.

Yeah that is what it is like. It is a big and glorious mess that is all mine.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

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