I don’t begrudge their mother their title. She is their mother. She should be called Mom. But they live with us and they hear our girls call me Mom and so I also get called Mommy. Craig gets called Daddy. And slowly, over time, the names start to lose their true meaning. The names have less to do with the people who will love them unconditionally and care for them for the whole of their lives and more about the people who are taking care of their basic immediate needs at this moment in time and likely will change a few times. Titles transfer. Attachments weaken.
When we began this foster care journey and had children in our home for 2 weeks or 10 days or 1 month, we loved and we lost, but we always knew it was coming and that knowledge built in a guard that made the leaving just a teensy bit easier than one would otherwise imagine it could have been.
But your heart can only do that so many times before it either grows too soft or too hard. And as hard as I tried to hold off, I gave in and I parented. I didn’t simply take care of them; I parented them. And I got burned and never wanted to do that again.
But then August came and we got two babies. And I’m not going to lie – they are sweet babies, but the sentinel keeping watch over my heart is very committed to the process of my protection. I’ve been caring for these boys, but not really parenting.
To parent is to risk. And it’s a risk I’ve not been willing to take with these little ones. Not yet. And here I stand, on the cusp between too soft and too hard and I’m feeling myself making a choice, one I am reluctant to make, but love calls for it. I must parent until their parents are better able to. I must provide love in addition to theirs. We must move forward in this hard life in a way that others do not, cannot, and will not understand.
As author and musician Michael Card says, “Jesus doesn’t accept volunteers; he calls disciples. Following is a command, not an invitation.”
And so we follow, even though we know what it eventually means for us. Again.