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.
There is nothing more awesome to me than watching my beautiful Callie get excited about our weekly “chalkboard update”. Every Thursday for the past month I have been documenting the stages of fetal development via a $5.99 chalkboard I bought at the Home Depot. I then add everyone to a MASSIVE mass text (about 20 of our closest friends and both of our families which include my 5 brothers and sister, mom, dad, Callie’s parents, brother, and her 2 aunts) and watch the craziness ensue. Our phones go off about 100 times in 10 minutes with a ton of “awww’s”, “how cute!”, “she’s glowing!” and “love the weekly lessons”. It’s nice to have everyone in on our joy, being that they have all been on this long, trying, and exhausting journey with us and are just as invested in these kiddos as we are. They’ve helped us through the really dark times when we thought there would never be any light to alleviate the sadness. They’ve been amazing and we’re extremely lucky. Everyone calls them “our babies”. One of my best friends Nikki texts us all the time, “How are our babies doing?” It’s actually really cute, comforting, and nice to know that we have such an amazing support system and so many people on our side.
This week was no different. Callie got home from work, kicked off her shoes, pet the kitty, gave hugs and kisses to Mary and asked about her day at summer camp, and was ready for her weekly snapshot. Let me not forget to mention that she peed about 3 times while all of this was happening. We set up the board and took our picture. The whole time, as usual, I’m thinking to myself, “Look at her smiling! She’s so happy! She is so damn beautiful! How did I get so lucky?” My best girl, in all her pregnant, baby carrying splendor. All mine! I hope our twinfants look like her. Freckles, beautiful green eyes, red hair (this week they are actually developing peach-fuzz on their bodies). I hope they are musically inclined like I am (thanks to our months of pouring over Latino donor profiles and waiting for the perfect one with a musical background, and not having webbed fingers anymore this week helps that too!). 2 healthy babies is all we can ask for. Until they’re here, I’ll keep marveling at what Callie is doing to her body for us. I’ll continue to assure her that as her belly grows and grows so does my heart and love for her, and that I have never been happier in my life. 10 weeks of babies, but a lifetime of love already…