Leaving the park today, William randomly says, ” I’m lucky to have a family. I would have had a bad life if you and Daddy hadn’t found us.” It’s random statements like this that stop me in my tracks, in one way, and then at the same time, I take them in stride because it’s stuff that I think about a lot.
I don’t know how it is for other parents. But, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my kids came to be mine. Sometimes, it’s because it boggles my mind that this is our life. Sometimes, it’s because I’m thinking about their previous reality or what their future reality would have been without us in it. Sometimes, it’s because I feel pressured to give them a good life since we chose it for them, but other times I am comfortable in the understanding that life is not always parks and fun. Sometimes, it’s cleaning your room, doing your homework, and being dragged around to stores. Most often. though, it’s because I want to make sure that I don’t lose sight of how much we wanted them. And, we did.
So, when William brought this up, I wasn’t expecting it, but didn’t mind talking about it. I told him that I didn’t know what his life would’ve been like, but I was glad we found him. I pointed out that it’s possible that he would’ve continued to grow up in foster care like so many other kids do. (I said this to increase his awareness of how lucky we all were, not just to toot our proverbial horns.)
Then he started talking about his foster home. He said that the other kids got all the special stuff and he didn’t get anything. After some dissecting of “William-talk,” I figured out that he was referring to the biological children of the foster parents. In all the training classes, they tell you that they want you to treat the kids like family. But, unfortunately, William didn’t feel that way. That’s another blog, though. One that I can’t write. And, suddenly, it made sense why William gets jealous so quickly when anyone else gets something. He doesn’t make a fuss, but we can tell it bothers him and sometimes he acts out in subtle ways. All kids get jealous and all parents should try to keep it as even as possible, including us. But, with William, I now think it also feels like potential proof of his fear that he’s not as important.
I really didn’t know what to say. I was standing outside the van, sweating, leaning in to talk to him about a really serious topic. And, I had nothing. I wanted to say something to wipe away all of his doubts, fears, and bad memories. But, that wasn’t going to happen. So, I just told him that we were a family now and that he, Antwan, and Lizzie all deserved the special things and that we would do the best we could to give them the best life possible.
He seemed satisfied with that. He talked a little more about one of his foster sisters and how she had the same past as him. But, by the time I got in and turned on the air, he had moved on to Spongebob on the dvd player.
When we got home, there was a package for him. I had ordered him a wolverine costume (his pick) and he had been anxiously waiting for it. When he opened it, he discovered that the costume included the claws (I had made sure of this.)
“You got me the claws?!”
“Of course, you gotta have claws.”
With an extremely grateful and surprised tone. “Wow, Mom, you are really nice to me.”
This was so sweet and so sad, all at the same time. After three years, he was still a little surprised that I would make the extra effort for him. It felt good to be appreciated and I want him to be grateful. I just don’t want him to be surprised.
He spent the rest of the afternoon in the costume. At one point, he came over, unexpectedly, and hugged me. “Thank you for buying this for me.”
Like I’ve said before, he does a really good job of pretending that nothing bothers him. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be uncared for by a biological parent, in almost every possible way and then put in a foster home where he felt second best (regardless of their presumed good intentions). Then we show up. I have to remember that he has spent less time with us than he has in all of his previous realities, so I suppose it’s hard to trust it or to break the mental cycle of before.
But, I do love that boy. I love the fact that he is currently sitting in a spongebob chair watching tv while wearing a wolverine costume. I don’t really love the fact that he’s messing with the mask so much that it will probably rip. But, I guess I can live with that. Cause, he’s all mine now. 🙂
I love those children more than I can ever say. At the very real risk of sounding melodramatic, I think my official purpose in life is to be their mother and to do the best job I can. Some days, I do a pretty good job (yesterday we had a tea party). Some days, I grumble non-stop about the toys all over the living room (actually, that was yesterday, too…). But, they do know I love them and hopefully, that will be enough.