Dear Mama of the sweet little girls in my care,
I love your children. I didn’t know I would so soon. I worried about your kids and my kids, tangled together in daily activities. Could I treat them fairly? How would I react when your youngest pushed my youngest? Or when my son wouldn’t share with your daughter?
I didn’t know how long I would have these children when I picked them up in the middle of the night, my hair and clothes in disarray. They reached for me so eagerly, and I was afraid. I’m not your mother, I thought to myself, and in the back of my mind lingered the word, yet. How long does it take to feel like a mother? How long will they be mine?
We slipped into life together. By increments—a wrinkled nose here, a bellowing laugh there—I fell in love with them. When they reached for me with scraped knees or tired eyes, I felt like their mother. I rocked your baby to sleep while her sisters prayed the nighttime prayers you taught them. I fought to untangle their long curly hair, knowing you must know the secrets to tame it.
I helped them in their frantic search for treasures to bring to you on their weekly visits. My heart ached as you kissed and hugged them and handed them back to me afterward. I saw how your arms moved slowly as you released them, reluctant to let them go. I saw the ways their eyes followed after you, as we went our separate ways. And I sat with them in disappointed quiet as we drove home, wishing the visit could have lasted longer. Wishing it could have lasted forever.
I also thought of you on the day the social workers came and loaded up their big white van with boxes I had spent all night packing. I told my heart to be still and my voice steady as the girls asked me where they were going and why, and for how long and if they would ever see us again. “I don’t know,” I said. I don’t know. I don’t know.
“They found a good family for you to stay with” I said, and I smiled, hoping my words were true. I hugged and kissed them, and said, “I love you,” and when they were gone, I went inside and cried.
I don’t know where they went, or for how long, or if I’ll ever see them again. I don’t know if I can trust someone else to properly care for children that I mothered—that I love. I want them with me.
And I think how you must feel this too.
Dear Mama of the children that we shared, your children are so precious to me. And my deepest desire and hope for those little girls is that they can soon come home to you.