We are sisters, you and I.
You know who you are. We have a bond even closer than blood. And even if I don't know you well, even if I don't know you at all, if I knew you in the past, or will meet you sometime in the future...even if I will never again lay eyes on you this side of heaven, our lives are intertwined. We are sisters.
We are mommies. We are foster moms, biological moms, adoptive moms; but we are bound together by more than that. We are bound together by a common thread. A broken child, or broken children, that we have been called to mother.
We are heart healers, which is so hard to be when we ourselves are broken. Our hearts are broken, too...often by the same children we are trying to heal.
We've been the recipients of abuse, emotional and verbal and physical. We've had to turn the other cheek, put up a brave front, treat others the way they would want to be treated even though they refuse to do the same for us. We have had to show love- real love, yes, but mostly fake love and somewhere-in-between love- to some of the most unlovable people imaginable, all in the name of healing.
We have the same secrets, sister. We've lost our tempers. We've parented in anger. We've said and done things we regret. We've tried, at our most broken, to make our children understand just how unlovable they are. We've hated a child.
We have the same fears and the same questions, too. Will I ever love my child for real? Will I ever look at her without seeing a monster? What kind of a person will he grow up to be? Am I making a difference at all?
We are tired. We are weary. Some days, we want to give up altogether, beat ourselves into the ground. And yet we persevere, sometimes because we want to, sometimes because we've been asked to, sometimes because there is simply no other choice.
We have good days and bad days. Days that we feel like we can change the world, make a difference, and days when we wish the world would swallow us up. End the turmoil of our lives. We are filled with guilt for the damage we've sometimes allowed to fester by not being perfect moms. By being selfish. By being human.
Once upon a time, my sister, you were a girl with a beautiful dream, and so was I. We were going to be mommies. We were going to share a lifetime of love and laughter with bright-eyed, dimpled children that would thrive under our care. We were going to foster or adopt and give a future to a child who had no future. Our hearts were loving, our motives were pure, we just didn't know then what we know now. We didn't know that damaged children take more than love and security and structure to heal. More than food on the table and a roof over their heads and clean clothes and new toys and a good education and piano lessons and band aids on skinned knees.
Our damaged children need to be loved perfectly, unconditionally, and completely. No matter what.
And herein lies the problem. We can't do it, can we? We've tried and we've failed time and again. Our kids need the love that only Jesus can give, and we must wake up each day and surrender our mothering to Him. Or fail.
I used to feel entirely alone as a mom. Mothers of normal children simply cannot understand the depths of pain and shame and heartache and anger I have felt. The utter hopelessness. I still feel alone sometimes, but I've begun to hear whispers from other places...other mommies that are destitute in their despair, too. I know you are out there, sisters, somewhere under the veil of secrecy and guilt. And I need you to know something.
You are not alone. I understand exactly how you feel. You don't even have to tell me, but I will listen if you need me to. I won't judge you. I won't hate you for how you feel. I won't even be surprised. You are not a horrible mother for how a damaged child has changed you. Good days and bad days aside, you are and always have been one of the special, the few. The mommies that haven't given up on beautiful even though it's covered in ugliness, even though you sometimes wish you could run the other way. You have allowed yourself to be put into a place where God can use you to do miracles. And He will, if you let Him.
Your dreams are still beautiful. You are beautiful, my sister.
Once upon a time, I had a beautiful dream. I wanted to rescue children that had no hope and no dreams of their own. Be their mommy. It hasn't worked out exactly as I'd planned or expected, but it has brought me here, to the point of surrender. And I'm discovering that this, in and of itself, is far more beautiful than anything I ever dreamed up on my own.
If you know a mother struggling with an unattached child...a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, or with special needs, or with no official diagnoses at all...a foster mom, an adoptive mom, or any mom that you know feels totally alone and misunderstood....please share this. She needs to know she's not alone.