Sometimes we question ourselves as a parent, that’s ok. Why we do this could be for a number of reasons, each just as important as the other. Every one of us has a story, has an experience, has a tale to tell. Here is one part of one story. One snippet in a big world. The moral of the story? Have a read and see if you can find it. It may well be different for everyone.
You are an amazing little human being. Lifting the mood in any room you bound into, with that smile, big brown eyes and long eyelashes that every female is instantly jealous of from the moment they meet you.
However, I’m your mummy and I’m finding it the hardest job of all. I shouldn’t do, it should be easy, it should all come so naturally, so where is it? Where is this mother’s instinct?
Was it ever there? From the moment you were born and whisked away to the intensive care unit the dread set it. Was I ever going to actually be your mummy? That whole week of doubt followed, the guilt of visiting you, of holding you, of leaving you, that when the day came that I was able to bring you home the joy was overtaken by every other emotion possible.
Fear that I couldn’t love you, worry that you’d get sick, guilt that you’d feel left out, and panic that I just wasn’t going to be good enough. All of them stacking themselves on top of each other like a huge game of Jenga, as soon as one hurdle was beaten it just jumped to the top making the stack even higher.
You were and still are my rainbow, I was never going to let that stack of negativity win though. You started to grow, you became so infectious with love and laughter that despite that stack of blocks your smile and giggles were breaking through it. Against all the odds, a season ticket in a hospital bed, and teaching me what worry really felt like you continued to not only grow, but you thrived. You loved, you shared love and you cared.
Then just like you were whisked away at the very beginning, you were gone again. Only this time I didn’t know where you were. Not to begin with. I knew you were sad, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I had to learn to trust the people who were looking after you to do it ‘right’ because after all you were still mine. It hurt, so much more than the first time.
I had spent the first two years of your life fighting to be your mum, begging to look after you, to read to you, to play games with you, and every fight I had lost. You were this small baby who never spoke, but always smiled for me. Who wouldn’t walk but always hugged. Who loved a bottle and dummy, despite my best efforts to get you off them. In the space on one day, you were gone.
The silence was deafening, the endless echoes and emptiness around me resonated through every night. It never got easier, over time the tears stopped, but the pain remained. Can you imagine hurting every night and not being able to stop it? This did come to an end, sort of. After 444 nights the time came when I was allowed to be that mum again, and read that story, tuck the blankets in and give that kiss goodnight.
Happily ever after right?
The baby that was whisked away all those days ago was no more. I now had a child, who looked completely different. Who spoke all of a sudden. Who walked around, who asked questions, who had an opinion, who had likes and dislikes. This child didn’t have the bottles and dummies that they left with, there was no more rocking them to sleep. There weren’t even anymore nappies! How was it possible for someone to change so much in 444 days?
How can I be a mum to a stranger? How do I do this? Can I do this? Should I be doing this? What if I can’t do this?
These were only a few of the questions that swamped my head and still do. You see I got this little human being back after so long it was like being handed a rather large new baby. Only without the sleepless nights and 2 hourly feeds. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t know how to start a conversation with you, to spark laughter, to brighten that smile with you. I knew I had to learn, and I had to learn fast.
Learning all about you from strangers is one the weirdest things ever. To admit I didn’t know what time you go to bed, or wake up is enough to torment me emotionally, when the truth is I hadn’t been there to learn them so of course I wouldn’t know these things. To admit I needed to be taught all the ‘mum’ information just so I could meet your basics needs is embarrassing. To admit defeat when I just can’t calm you down, when I can’t stop your tears from falling, when the only thing I can do is cry with you, hold you and hope someone tells me what to do.
Yet there are times when I see you for the amazing child you now are. Seeing all the new things you’ve learnt, and I now get to enjoy for the first time. Watching you ride your trike, seeing your confidence grow as you learn to jump and climb. Enjoying your smiles and laughter as we make a mess trying to bake cookies and cupcakes. For the first time I’ve been able to read you stories, play games with you, and enjoy your company. There have been so many happy moments with you, proud moments, not to mention surprising moments. These moments will stay with me, these moments are what will make me your mummy.
One day I won’t have to try quite so hard, plan for so long, or ask for quite so much help. I’m not sure when that day will be. In the meantime, we continue to take each little thing together. Sometimes it ends in hugs and tears, sometimes it ends in laughter and smiles. There may be more times I need to ask for help, but that mother’s love is there, it always has been. In amongst the chaos every mum has that mother’s instinct, with some hope and some belief it shows through. The more you feed it the more it’ll grow, the key is to feed it with the right things. What do you feed your Hope with?
Getting your child back from foster care is just as traumatic (in my opinion) as losing them into the system. Listening to them asking to go ‘home’ when they are already home is heart-breaking, only you can’t show that. You need to keep that strong face, that calm exterior which accepts that is ok. You cover it all up by giving another big hug and kiss and simply saying ‘I love you so much’ in the hope that one day it’ll be believed. The day will come, the days do get better and brighter. The day will come when you can hear the word ‘mummy’ and you can respond without second guessing yourself, without stopping before you respond because you forget that it is you who mummy is. Hold on to every little piece of hope and watch it grow along with your little ones.