I have had many moments in the past 9 months, that I frantically thought, “I need to talk to Priscilla about this!” It’s been 9 months since we met, but I feel like I’ve known her for years. She has been such a priceless treasure in my life, whether she knew it or not, and I wanted her to share her story of motherhood here for you all. Priscilla, I’m so glad to call you a friend and so thankful for you in my life! Happy Mother’s Day from one sorta-mother to another.
“Happy Mother’s Day!”………….How odd still to be wished those words! You see, I am technically NOT a mother. Never have been pregnant. Never have given birth to anything breathing or anything living that could remotely be defined as coming from me. I am technically not a mother. And never will be one. It is honestly probably the greatest regret of my life that God didn’t ordain this for me. And yet people wish me Happy Mother’s Day.
You see, I’ve been a youth leader for years. I’ve been privileged to be present at the spiritual birth of many kids. And moreover to be able to nurture and foster the spiritual walks of many, many teens over the years. So, I’m kind of a spiritual mother to many kids.
Also, I’m a foster mother and have been for two years. Part of me wants to say “Just a foster mother.” Like I need to qualify and define it for everyone. “No, I’m not a mother. I’m a sort-of, occasional, not really mother. I take in other people’s children, but they’re not mine. I’m just doing this for a moment, for a time, for a bit. But I’m not really a mother. Not really.” And I know people don’t need things qualified like this; it’s just my pathological need for truth that makes me feel the need to overshare.
I have had three kiddos who have lived with me. The first girl, A, was a pretty 16 year old who had more issues than a newspaper article. We got along well and she was pretty go-with-the-flow, but she had so many damaged places that she wouldn’t let anyone else get to. She moved on after a few very hard months.
The second girl, K, was a 15 year old who truly captured my heart. We got along so well and everything was so good for so long. If it was up to me, she could have stayed with me forever. But she had learned early in life that instead of following rules, manipulation will get you want you want. Rules are there to be gotten around, not to follow to get what you want. Manipulate and take a shortcut to what you want. She came by it honestly. Her parents only showed her this way and no other. So after almost 11 months of pouring into this kiddo, she was moved to a place of greater supervision and structure. I still have contact with her and can see her often. But the day-to-day has been sacrificed. In fact, she is going to Prom tonight and I can’t be there for that and that really hurts something fierce! But I can’t control her choices. So these are the consequences we live with.
Kiddo Number Three, A, a bubbly 11 year old, was with me for three weeks, shortly after K left, and was another heart-capture-er. These were three weeks of complete joy! She was a blessing to me and drank in all the love I had to give her. She was so great and time with her was a blessing. I was even given the gift of being with her as she asked Jesus into her heart!! After a few weeks and paperwork, I handed her off to a God-loving couple who will be her forever home! What a blessing!
So what have I gained from all this besides more gray hairs and wrinkles?? Oh so very much!! A greater understanding of God’s unconditional love for us that gives and gives and gives whether there are results or not. Before I started doing foster care, I was told by a foster mom that she told herself every day, “These are not my children. I am just holding them in trust for someone else.” My job is to love them. With my whole heart. Holding nothing back. Flooding them with the love God has poured into me. BUT (and this is a HUGE but), I have to love them with a open hand. Because they could leave at any time. This is the nature of foster care. You are choosing to love a transitory being. Someone who will be gone at some point in time. Maybe to a loving forever family. Maybe to a group home where structure is key. Maybe to their own family who have gotten things together. I am really good at loving with my whole heart. I kind of rock that part. But, I SUCK at the “open hand” part! It is the hardest thing I have ever done. Ever. Even saying goodbye to my own mother as she neared the end of her life was nowhere close to this hard. Nowhere close. It is not for wimps, that is for sure!
But I am called to love. That is my only job. All that love entails. All that love demands. All the joys and the hurts. My performance of this job is not in the results. I will never, in the eyes of God, be judged on the results of my loving. I just have to love well. My job is to plant the seeds. What grows from them is not my concern. That is in the hands of God. HE gets to be the one to determine that. Not me. No matter how hard I want it to be my determination. It is not my job. It is God’s job to decide of these seeds will grow to incredible heights or shrivel or die completely. When I judge my job on performance or results, I have left the path He laid out for me and things go horribly wrong.
But maybe…….that is the calling of all parents. To love a transitory being. To not focus on the results. To only plant the seeds and take your hands off and stop digging up what you have planted to analyze it and see if it is growing right. To only want to hear from God: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” at the end of each day.
So, maybe I will let someone wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. Because maybe I have more in common with those ladies who have given birth than I realized before. Maybe I am learning to love as a parent loves, expecting nothing in return except God’s approval and empowering to do it again tomorrow.
If loving those God brings into your life makes you a mother, then I guess I will wear that badge proudly and stop qualifying how I don’t really fit that term in the traditional sense. I love. I do it well (some days). I can trust God to love through me, if I will let him.
So………Happy Mother’s Day, All Ladies Who Love!!!