Skip to main content

My Greatest Achievement

Last week in a team building exercise at work I was asked to share my greatest achievement. Many shared an educational one, many shared that their kids were their achievement.

I was the first woman in my family to graduate from college. I have backpacked through the New Mexico mountains. I got into grad school. I have not 1, but 2, 1/2 marathons under my belt. I'm Mom to 8 kids in total. And my husband I have grown and changed together for 13 years. But what I feel is my greatest achievement and what I shared with my team was:

My relationship with Maria. 

Similar to Cherub Mama's comment on my last post, I've had to forgive people I didn't want to for things that were unspeakable. For things I couldn't even fathom. I had to go completely out of my comfort zone to understand their circumstances, their motivations, and their point of view. 

I wasted a lot of precious energy on being angry. On hatred. Stressed out about little things not understanding those things were little. 

I didn't want to work with Maria. I wanted her to fail so the kids would be mine forever. I wanted to judge. She was an undocumented mother to 4 kids with 4 different dads who committed a serious crime. She knew nothing about how to care for kids as evidenced by the fact they were living with me.

That's how I felt then, 4 years ago. Before she looked into my eyes and told me she wanted me to be important to her kids. Before I could see the ways she did care for her children. Before I understood the many,many obstacles this woman had overcome. The lady with little more than a 3rd grade education from a foreign country was supporting her 4 kids the best way she knew how. Because she had to. Because she was their Mom.

Somehow out of all of those negative thoughts and across the language barrier we forged a friendship. I listened as she shared her story of how she came to the US. How she was abused and stuck in dysfunctional family relationships. I helped when she needed coaching on parenting. And when she needed a letter of recommendation for immigration court, I lovingly wrote about why she should be a permanent resident of our country.

What changed? Me. I learned that there is a lot I don't know and had no frame of reference for. It's amazing how interesting our lives can be when we allow ourselves to have open minds. My greatest achievement is that I let go of all the things "I should think and feel" and embraced the idea of knowing very little about the ways of the world. To be able to bridge the many gaps we had and truly come to love this woman is an achievement of the highest kind. 

I got an excited call from Maria today. She got her drivers license and wanted to drive the Fab Four to our new house as a surprise. 

She can now drive anywhere and where does she want to go? My house! Amazing! And so proud of her for sticking with her goal. What an example to her kids. I tell them all the time- "your Mom is amazing". 

It's scary to step out of your comfort zone but sometimes it is so worth allowing your heart that room to grow. I'm a better person for having met Maria. And I'm so glad she gave me the chance to be her friend.


Comments

  1. beautiful. I have forged a friendship with the mom of my (past) foster kids as well. Unfortunately, she only calls me when she wants something. She's in and out of jail... and she is usually asking me to post bail, or pay to get her dog out of the pound, etc.. which I cannot do, but I keep holding out hope for her. The kids, though, they are a real joy and I have them here every Saturday. It's been a good thing to forge a friendship with the kids dad and grandparents and to keep on loving the kids.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"No."
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…

FAQs

I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …