Should I let them call me mommy?
I’ll start with a story.
We got the call for Cadence, 8 years and 5 months ago to be exact, on a Wednesday evening on the way to a prayer service. We had been praying about starting our family and recently began a series of doctors visits to begin our infertility treatment journey. We weren’t even licensed foster parents or anything like that when we got the “call” that changed our lives that Wednesday evening. And to make things even funnier, the call came in the exact week we were supposed to find out if the infertility treatments were working. As the person waited on the other end of the line for a response, we looked at each other in pleasant disbelief. I will never forget that 10 second we-know-what-to-do stare down moment we shared in the car that day. We knew. This was her. This was the child we just started praying for.
Soon after, we went to pick up a tiny, two-year old, bright blue-eyed beauty wearing a pink ruffled lace dress at a daycare where she was waiting for us. We strapped her in her new car seat, with just a baby doll in tow, and little did we know, we were headed to forever with her. What confirmed what my heart already knew was a moment I can still vividly picture. Me, sitting on the closed toilet seat cover, knees touching the outside of the ivory tub. I was hunched over lathering her for the first time when it happened. She looked up at me wide-eyed, “Mommy?” I caught my breath, feeling every hair straighten, and answered, “Yes. That’s me.”
Foster care comes with many questions that no one has a simple quick answer to. You cannot predict the future or how and when things will play out. But the one certain thing is, they need a mommy and a daddy more than you will ever understand. They need someone to hold them at night right before bed time to mend the gaping holes in their heart that they don't quite have words for yet. They need someone to say “it’s going to be okay” when the tears come, or “good job buddy” when they start pedaling their tricycle on their own for the first time. If you have children of your own, think of all the reassurance they need every day for all the things, big and small. Now multiply that by ten for these children that have been through some earthly hell a lot of us know nothing of.
This question has bugged me in the past— Should I let them call me mommy? I mean, I am not technically their “real mommy” I have told myself. But then I read something somewhere not too long ago (I can’t quite remember where) that helped me answer this recurring question in my heart. Let them call you what they need to call you. Let them decide what they need. They know, even at their young age that they need a mommy. They need a daddy. It’s how we are created as humans. And even if it is short-lived and do not stay, you were still that to them in a moment they needed it. After all, a mother/father is a parent who is caring for and raising a child. So am I their real mommy or their in-the-meantime mommy? Yes.
We have had some children come through in the past year, some for a couple of months and one in particular for just a long weekend. Each of them, on their own, have referred to us as mommy and daddy. They honestly could have called us anything. But no matter what they labeled us, I knew what our role was for the time they had with us. And so this question does not bug me like it used to. I do still often wonder about their first mommy and how they are doing and all the what if’s attached to foster care. But I know my role for this time. I have embraced it and fully know, I am their real mommy.
The picture above was our Cadence girl almost a year after she flooded our lives with all her goodness.