Written by Esperanza DeLaLuz
As the oldest daughter in a large family, with a mother that was absolutely devoted to her calling as a mother, I was blessed to feel fairly comfortable when I began to have children of my own. I’d had many opportunities to practice nurturing skills at home with my younger siblings, and my mother often talked to me about her philosophy of mothering and her great joy in it. I wanted nothing so much as to be a mother myself.
As an adult, I continued my education in the social work field, and raised my own family. Eventually, I also became a foster parent. This awesome opportunity is not for the faint-hearted. It can be very demanding and very frustrating. It is your “job” to mother the foster child in a way they likely have never actually experienced, and yet do nothing to interfere with the ability of the child to bond with the natural parents should they become able to once again take up the role of full-time parent. It is a fine line to walk and too many foster parents resign themselves to the role of caretaker and do not try to assume the role of a parent, because it is just too difficult to truly mother a child that you may lose at any time. I do understand this, but for me it was never possible to do it that way.
It is easier to do if one recognizes that “mother” need not be an exclusive role in a child’s life. In fact, studies have shown that the more positive and loving adult influences in a child’s life, the higher the likelihood of their own happiness and success in life. Therefore, a foster mother is a “second” mother, not the primary mother, but can have an effect that may be far ranging later in life. One foster mother told me, “You have to consider that if they graduate from high school, and they are not in jail, or on drugs . . you won!" The foster mother may never actually know the positive influence, but once in a great while one hears of child who remembered something of what they experienced in your home and it helped them.
Awhile back, a former foster child called and told me that she had gotten caught up in drugs and that when she hit rock bottom and wanted a lifeline to change she went to a local church (not my particular church) to find a God-fearing family that would help her straighten out. She stuck to it with them, and their pastor, and ended up off drugs, happily married, with two children. That was when she called to tell me that it was because she had lived with us (for only six months) that she knew the kind of place to go to get help to straighten out her life. It felt really good.
The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.
-- James E. Faust
Written by Esperanza DeLaLuz
Your greatest contribution to the world may not be in what you do, but someone you raise.
-- Andy Stanley
Sometimes the things about being a mother that are the most meaningful to you are not the things you would expect. Cards, gifts, and messages of appreciation, are wonderful and meaningful, no question. But some of the things that have meant the most to me are the late-night calls where a child calls to tell you something….
They have lost their job; the market has gone soft; and they are at risk of losing their home. Your heart breaks because you aren’t in a position to offer much financial help, and then your child says, “But we’ll get through it, Mom. We bought a giant bag of beans, and another bag of rice. We had some food set aside. Thank you for teaching me how to live poor.” Who knew that all those years we struggled to get by would be a blessing to our child?
A child called to tell me of her struggles with a child with behavioral issues, as a result of special needs, who is doing so poorly that the school is wanting to do something to make life easier for themselves, a thing which is not in the best interest of her child. Again, my heart ached, because there was not a lot I could do for her, besides listen and be supportive. They live very far away and its such a complicated process to resolve this kind of thing. Then she says, “But I knew what to do, Mom; I took him to be assessed, and then I told them they need to get him an IEP, and I told them I know they have to do something better.” I said, “Wow, how did you know how to do those things?” She told me she had watched and listened as we worked with her foster brother, and so she remembered what to do.
A child who had been struggling to find a good way to live, decided to go into the military to help build a better life. The call in the late night told of the challenges of boot camp, the demanding discipline, the hard work and myriad mundane tasks. BUT, assigned to clean bathrooms with another recruit, who was clueless and lazy, our child shone, having been taught to do chores (however reluctantly those lessons were endured.) The child who, as a child, threw tantrums over having to do the dishes said to me, “Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to work.” I was thrilled (and floored!)
Who would have thought?
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