During the week, I'm a working mom with four kids. Our house is full of energy and, albeit exhausting, the reward is in every snuggle and slobbery kiss. My highlight each day is staring into the eyeballs of the five people I love most on this planet, while we all rate my food and stuff our faces (More to come on this tradition soon - watch for "Food Friday").
Friday mornings are different. While the rest of the family plays their usual role, I am called to action for a part I didn't request for a movie I don't like. I am just the foster mom to someone else's daughter on the other side of a partition.
As the weeks go on, the visits get harder.
Maybe if I left, I wouldn't be so emotional, but I can't bring myself to do it. I always want to be on the other side of the door, the minute it opens.
On his side, it's the easiest part of the week. They laugh and wrestle and play silly games that never wear out.
My side requires personal restraint and a committed exercise in humility.
A few weeks ago, mom tried buzzing into the agency lobby, but was denied entrance. I could see her tears through the glass door and she looked the most vulnerable I've ever seen her. Big eyes. Huge belly (due any day) and desperate for hope. I can hate the system, the ease in which the enemy devours his prey, and even the fact that we're in a predicament we didn't sign-up for, but I can't hate them.
Even though sometimes I want to.
It would be easier.
It's not possible. I, slowly, walked toward the door, let myself out and hugged Sweet Boy's and Little Missy's mom until she collapsed in my arms. She cried for a long time without saying anything.
In those moments, love is easy.
I guided her to a small bench, as she looked around, nervously, afraid the police would be there to escort her off the premises. I told her I wouldn't let that happen and that we could go sit in my car if we had to, in order to catch up. She let out a deep sigh and asked me every question a mother who's been separated from her kids would ask.
We never did our goodbye visit due to jail time and then a re-scheduled no-show. As I listened to her sob about why she couldn't make it, I decided I was a "giver" at heart. It's not a word that stands out if I were to describe my attributes, but when her piled up excuses didn't stand in the way of my desire to give, I knew the label fit.
We talked for a solid thirty minutes. Her words gave me a guided tour of the Alps. One minute she was grabbing my leg, begging me to adopt Sweet Boy - afraid her father would get custody and give him the same destructive foundation she got - the next she was, openly, telling me all of the plans she and birth dad have to raise Little Miss alongside her soon-to-be baby boy. Her cavalier responses point to self-service and make it clear she will never understand what I've done for her.
Even in those moments, love is easy.
I buzzed back into the agency and asked to speak to a supervisor. I pleaded mom's case and asked that they allow us to do an impromptu goodbye visit when dad was done. They wouldn't bend. I asked about a bag I had left for mom, should she come by. All of Missy's firsts and many mementos for Sweet Boy from my personal collection of treasures. Once the bag was found, I was able to get the agency to agree to allow us to stand outside the agency for a few minutes, so that mom could soak in the daughter she hadn't seen in, nearly, 12 months.
For a minute, I stood on the other side of both doors, wondering how on earth I ever came to be there.
When we walked outside, mom was a frenzy of activity, laughing - crying - hugging - questioning. Cramming a year's worth of wonder into fifteen minutes. As I stood to leave, Little Miss reached for me and said, "Momm-e!" Before I could pick her up, dad scooped her in his arms and placed her chubby hands on mom and said, "No, baby, THIS is your mommy."
I clenched my fist, bit my tongue, and begged God to take over.
I never want to walk away from love...even if it feels impossible.
What are we if we can't give love?