Today, our little Mary turned 7!!! Our little CooCoo is a whole year older. When you’re a foster parent (or really, just a parent) these milestones get you
thinking about “day one”.
It was early afternoon on a Wednesday morning in late March. I got a phone call from our resource worker to let us know that they had an emergency placement and she needed a home right away. Usually when they call, they give you a brief description of the child, a snippet of their history both medical and family, and an estimated date for their placement. Callie and I never really care too much about any of that stuff. When we get called to foster, we always say yes without listening to any of those things. They’re irrelevant, but Mary was a little different. She was 6 (we are signed up for 0-5), which meant school-aged, and that was a lot more complicated for us (scheduling and child care wise) than we were really ready/willing to deal with, but we took a leap of faith, crossed our fingers, opened our hearts, and hoped for the best. And we’re so glad that we did!
I will admit, on some days, it has been a struggle. There are days when we’re exhausted, but there’s homework to be done. There are days when Mary is rebellious and sassy and tries our patience like no other, but on those same days, she throws her head on my shoulder and holds my hand while I read her a bedtime story. Sometimes I feel like she’ll eat us out of our apartment, but she always saves the last piece/sip for us.
There have been huge accomplishments. When Mary first came here, she barely knew any of her letters. 10 1/2 months later, she reads the boys bedtime stories and is obsessed with “The Magic Treehouse” series. She knew 0/33 sight words and now she gets a perfect score and 100’s on her spelling tests every week. She refused to do chores when she first came to us, and now the first thing she does every morning is make her bed, and she’s proud of herself. And last night, for the first time since she’s been with us, Mary called me Máma and Callie mommy!!! “Mama, thank you for my special day. Mommy, I really love you.” Last night, Callie and I couldn’t stop smiling. Last night, we felt love from Mary in a way that we hadn’t experienced before. It was incredible!
We wanted to make sure that we gave Mary as special a birthday as we could. Last night we blew up about 2 dozen balloons and threw them on the floor of her bedroom. She loves my chalkboard announcements so I wrote a special birthday message for her and set it on her art desk so it was the first thing she saw when she got up. At 7:25am, a tiny knock on the door. I told her to come in, ” MOMMY! MAMÁ!!! OH MY GOSH!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!” Thats just the reaction we were hoping to get.
Then it was time to get ready and head to her Ice Skating Party! For a kid that’s never been skating before, I was blown away by how quickly she picked it up. She never slowed down, she fell maybe 3 times, and that fantastic gap toothed smile was permanently plastered to her face for the 4 hours we were there (and a few more when we got home). She got a ton of really cool gifts ( a Lite Brite!!!!) from friends and family, and we gave her an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven where she made pretzels for everyone (which were actually pretty good!), and I made one of her favorite meals for dinner. While she was helping me cook dinner, we sang every song from Frozen at the top of our lungs and danced together as we waited for our pork chops to cook.
I’m glad we were able to give Mary a great birthday that she won’t forget any time soon. It makes me sad to realize that next year we won’t be sharing her birthday with her (that’s for another post). But for today and while she’s with us, we’ll love her, grow with her, encourage her, teach her, and pray that she continues on the positive path that we have begun to help her pave.