At 12:19 pm this afternoon, I drove away from baby D. And I ugly cried.
For 15 minutes straight.
I sobbed and out loud prayed that he would be safe and not traumatized. And I said that I didn’t like saying goodbye and that if he should need to stay – I don’t know, forever? – I could be on board with that.
Then I went home and stole a few minutes with Leo before hitting the road so that I could cry some more. I unloaded my foster mama guilt. Then I admitted that the goodbyes (even the brief ones) are really, really hard.
Epiphany: Next time someone tells us that they could never foster because saying goodbye would break their hearts, we’ll say “You’re probably right. It is really hard. I don’t think you could do it.”
Right, I probably won’t. I’ll probably continue a tight-lipped, weak response like “We wouldn’t be doing a good job if it didn’t hurt when we say goodbye.”
Anyway, none of this is the point.
Wait, did I have a point? Yes. Ugly cry.
So, I’m all mascara running down my face, hair frizzied from the sudden humidity crying and I’m coaching myself. What would I say to another foster mother ugly crying on my figurative internet doorstep?
I’d say that it’s OK to take a break from parenting other people’s kids. Yes, you want these children to be 100% a part of your family, but in reality, they’re not. And, sometimes your immediate family needs a break (especially if that immediate family also happens to have special needs met emotionally). And, if you had known D would be here this long, you would have planned this trip differently. And, of course you’re not going to break him by leaving! And, you’re teaching him that people come back. And, it is incredibly hard. And, you are going to feel sad and miss him, but you’re going to be just fine and so will he. And no, you are not going to turn this car around right now and drag him on this trip no matter how impractical it is…. And so on…
I know all of that. Still, it’s tough. So, I allowed myself an ugly cry. And, I allowed myself to check my heart again and make sure I was doing the right thing. Then I continued driving toward home so I could pick up the fellas and hit the road.
Then about 50 miles before crossing the first island bridge, we began to see spanish moss on the trees and I actually sung out! Oh, how it moves my soul to be knee deep in the low country. I began telling stories about our childhood trips down to this area. I figured out that from birth to about 15 years old, we came down this way (actually one state south of here) an average of 10 times a year. Maybe more.
And I have missed it. But I LOVE being able to share some of this area with Simeon and Leo. I love the smell of the ocean. So when we got to the Island, we checked into our room and then pulled right back out to play on the beach in the few remaining moments of sunlight. We stripped Simeon down to his underwear and let him dash in and out of the warm ocean water. I watched my husband laughing at my son while the sun set around us, and the ocean lapped at my toes. And allowed myself a few tears of a happy cry. As the water washed over my feet, up past my knees, to the hem of my dress, I let my guilt wash away.
As I watched the sun set, I drank in deeply the place I feel most rooted. At the water’s edge.
I guess you could say it’s been the best of days and the worst of days. Regardless, I’m here to embrace every second I have on the island, inhale as much salty air as my lungs will hold and carry home as much sand as my underwear will contain. And one week from today, you bet your bottom dollar, I will be rearin’ and ready to get back and smoosh my Baby D’s sweet cheeks! Amen.