I owe the mom I am today to my own mother. This time every year I reflect on what kind of mom I am and what kind of mother gave birth to me.
Because of her absence, I am present, every day, every second. Because of her recklessness, I am responsible. Because of her abuse, I am patient. Because of her addiction, I pick my babies before anything and anyone.
My mother never witnessed my prom, or saw me in my wedding dress. She wasn’t by my side through my first heartbreak =. She won’t cheer for me as I walk across the stage with my bachelors degree. She will never meet my husband or her beautiful grandchildren. She’ll never be able to encourage me as a mother. Some days I’m bitter but most days it drives me to be the mother I am today.
Everyday I look at my babies and I know that I will be there to witness everything from their first tee ball game to their their last high school football game. I get to watch them give me the cutest grin when they make a race track out of a whole roll of toilet paper. I get to hear ” Mommy play baby shark” or “Mommy I wuv you”. I get to be the safe place for my newborn when he’s inconsolable and only wants to be held by me. I get to be my two year olds best friend. I get to make their unforgettable and memorable.
As I raise my two boys, its not me I feel sorry for. Its my own mother for missing out on the most unconditional and pure love there is.
We get 18 years with our babies. 18 years to show them how much they mean to us. I think that makes us the lucky ones.
Orphan. Your mom didn’t love you. Child of the system. Just another statistic. These are not only things that have been said to me but that I’ve thought of myself. At the age of 7, 5, 3, and 2 years old, my younger siblings and I were put into foster care. It was by far the most traumatic situation I’ve ever had to endure. I was ripped away from everything I’ve ever known and thrown into a world of bouncing from school to school, home to home, etc. Half of my siblings and I managed to stay together for a while and if you know anything about the foster care system then you know this is rare, but our situation was far from perfect.
My post isn’t about my backstory. It’s about the problem with our system. Too often we have men/ women in suits making decisions about children lives. We have kids left to live on the streets when they turn 18. Lost in a world that they have no chance of succeeding in. We want to preach “pro-life” but we fight against the vary system that would help a single poor mothers/fathers raise a child. If a child is lucky enough to be adopted past the age of five they are ripped from any family they have ever known, they are put in therapy and they may or may not be able to handle the sheer trauma of it all. Many kids are taken from their homes in nothing but what they are wearing, others get their things thrown in a trash bag. Kids in the system are less likely to go to college or even graduate from high school.
Too often I see post about how “expensive” adoption is but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t if you become a foster parent or adopt through the states foster care program. Not only is it the least expensive option the state often gives the families a stipend to care for the child and you have access to training and support. Heres a link to the states foster care requirements: https://www.tn.gov/dcs/program-areas/foster-care-and-adoption.html. As sad as it is there is an entire website of profiles of children looking for a forever home: https://adoptuskids.org/. Understandably though, adoption isnt for everyone so here’s a link to help: https://www.togetherwerise.org/donate/.
Theres a certain stigma that surround kids in the foster care system. I am here to fight that stigma show everyone that with the right help and love anyone can succeed. I was placed for adoption in 2004 and I wasn’t adopted until 2008. For four years I searched for a place to call home. It is too eay to turn a blind eye but we have a responsibility to be better and do better. I hope that my husband and I can be in a place to adopt one day, but until then I will try and shed some light on our current system.
To the girls who date my boys remember they were once little boys. They giggled at puppies and found joy in hot wheels. They played outside barefoot with popsicle grins and farmers tans. They always came to mommy for kisses. They went to daddy to fix things and to be thrown in the air. They are sensitive and loving and stubborn. They were raised to be respectful and express their emotions. They were raised to love and love big. They were raised to fight for what they believe in and never expect anything less than they deserve.
My boys will act tough. They’ll fight the other guys that flirt with you. They’ll fall hard and you’ll be perfect in his eyes. So, I ask the girls who date my boys protect their heart. They aren’t like every other boy and they never will be. They are trophies, they aren’t the tough guy or the bad boy. They’re my little boys and they always will be. I tickled them until they peed their pants, danced around the house and sang every nursery rhythm possible. I held them when they were sick, and I corrected them when they were wrong. I always folded their clothes and cleaned up their toys. Their dad showed them how to mow the lawn and most importantly how to respect women and work hard.
My one request of you is be worthy. Be the girl that is loyal and loving and respectful. Let him tell you his dreams. Be the person he isn’t afraid to be vulnerable with. Respect and love yourself and demand that same love and respect from my boys. They aren’t perfect so I’m sure you’ll fight but, in those fights, don’t degrade him and make him feel stupid. Encourage his growth. He’s capable of amazing things, so be the girl that he grows with not the girl whose jealousy gets in the way. Most of all, bear with me. If I seem distant at first, it’s because when I look at him, I still see my tiny swaddled newborn. Their dad will welcome you and make you feel right at home because that’s who he is but me, I’ll hang back for a little bit to make sure I see someone who can help my son become the man he was always meant to be. He’ll make a loving husband, a goofy man, and an amazing daddy. He grew up with the best example. But watching him grow into his own person will break my heart so bear with me as I watch my boy become a man. Watching you love my baby is hard, but I will always wish the best for his relationships. I will eventually welcome you with loving arms into our families and accept you as my own. I will never compare you to past girlfriends. If my son found special enough about you to bring you home and build a life with you, then that is something I will treasure forever.
Being a girl is hard. Am I pretty enough? Am I skinny enough? Do I care too much about my looks? Am I smart enough? I hope I don’t start my period in this class. I hope they aren’t staring at my butt.
You’ll go through more changes then you’ll care to. You’ll deal with things you don’t want to. You’ll make terrible decisions trying to fit in. You’ll be too afraid to tell your parents and fight with them.
But I’m here to tell you that your worth will never be defined by others, especially some boy. I’m here to tell you that you’ll always be the prettiest girl in the room as long as your daddy is there. I’m here to tell you that the day you were born your parents world stopped. I’ll never forget the excitement on your dads face when he came out to tell us that he cut the cord and you were here, blood on his hands and shirt and all. Your mom labored all day and was so tough. But I watched them become the most amazing parents. Scared of every little thing. Cautious of every little noise you made. Obsessed. I watched your uncle fall in love. The man who said he never wanted a little girl. Your pictures filled his phone. He bragged about how pretty you were to anyone who would listen. I FELL IN LOVE. The families first little princess. I think about all of our girl shopping days and all the spoiling we have left to do. You’ll be your cousins’ best friend and they’ll be your protectors.
So, baby girl I’m here to tell you you’ll doubt your worth, you’ll question if your pretty enough, if you’re loved enough but when you do, you have me. I will be here to tell you just how much we all love you. I’ll be here to tell you how your mom always makes sure you are perfectly taken care of and how your daddy lit up talking about what a daddy’s girl you are. I’ll be here to tell you about the first time we all held you and how in love we fell. When that isn’t enough, I’ll be there with ice cream, rom coms, and lots and lots of shopping.
In this day and age honesty isn’t something you come by often. We spend so much time taking pictures that show “our best side”, our perfectly matching mommy and me outfits, and the newest and best clothes and technology. We show off a “carefree” lifestyle. But how often are we actually carefree? How many of us are guilty of yelling at your kids to smile perfectly for the Facebook picture? How often do we force them to wear their brand-new clothes that they aren’t allowed to get dirty? If you say you’ve never done this sorry but you’re lying to yourself. We all do it. We want everyone to see how perfectly cute our boys are matching in their little Nike outfits or their matching bows that take up too much of their foreheads etc. How many times do we get so upset and miss out on the fun of the moment because we are so focused on getting the perfect “candid”?
In the spirit of being honest I will share a story about how easy it is to get caught up in the social media façade. Stefan and I took Noah to the aquarium for the first time. We were having the best time until I realized that Stefan hadn’t taken any pictures of me and Noah. I was taking pictures of him all day. How rude was he, right? So? I got angry. I demanded the perfect picture in front of the huge tank with all the fish, but nothing was good enough because I was so caught up in the idea of getting the perfect picture. My legs were too big, you could see my mommy tummy sticking to my shirt, Noah wasn’t smiling (who cared that he was a six-month-old, smile damnit!) I finally settled for a picture because I was frustrated, and Noah was over it. And do you know what I captioned the picture? “My cute little aquarium date today” How annoying for Stefan. I just spent thirty minutes lecturing him and nagging him to death about not getting the perfect picture and completely distracted us from really enjoying the rest of the aquarium. Looking back, I’m not proud of this moment. Not because I was mad at Stefan for not taking any pictures of me and Noah but because of how I demanded a level of perfection from Stefan that wasn’t possible. It wasn’t possible because no matter what picture he took I would’ve judged my body, the lighting, the way it was edited, and I would compare to another mom who seemed to post the most perfectly perfect picture of her perfectly perfect smiling family.
I tell this story not so you can judge how crazy I am (you can if you want) but so you can understand that sometimes it’s not worth it. And I truly believe that it comes from a good place. We just want our Instagram and Facebook friends to see how happy our babies are and how happy they make us. We want to show off Gods little blessings. But look how an amazing day at the aquarium turned into a fight between me and my husband. So, I’ll end with this. Mamas don’t be afraid to post those pictures that you think you look awful in, the ones where dads’ fingers block half the camera, the one with spit up on your shirt, and the one where your double chin is showing because you’re laughing too hard. Those are the pictures that you’re going to look back on and remember the good times. You’re going to remember the amazement in your kids’ eyes in those. Not in the perfectly posed and edited one.