FOR THE MUDROOM
I cradle her on my chest, her little hand resting on my neck. She’s so little for her age but she fits perfectly against me. I know my days with her are numbered as we have been told she will be going to live with her father— father she has never known and who has only met her a couple of times. I keep kissing her and taking deep breaths of her curly hair thinking I can memorize her smell yet I know as soon as she’s gone it will all start to fade.
Less than a week into her placement with us my husband told me, “You are getting too attached to her!” I laughed, as if it was something that I had control over.
Our other little one is asleep in her big girl bed. She sleeps so peacefully right now though her body looks like a broken rag doll tossed onto the bed. I always cover her back up before I stop for the night and she always wakes up tangled in the sheets or half out of the bed. As peaceful as she is now, it doesn’t last. I may never know what horrors her four-year-old mind replays in her sleep but I do hear her whimpers during the night.
She is fast to correct anyone when they call me Amanda. She makes sure they know I’m really momma, because that’s what she calls me. She’s been with us long enough that we have made traditions and we look forward to celebrating yet another birthday with her.
These are my babies. My little loves I like to call them. When someone tells me they are beautiful, I say thank you. When someone compliments her manners, I say thank you. When someone calls me their momma, I nod and smile. You see, I am their momma. Right now, in this moment, I am both these girl’s mommas.
I didn’t give birth to them, no. Yet like any other new mom – from the moment they were placed in my arms I have loved them. Deeply, painfully, joyously loved them. I’m not their foster mom; I am just mom. I wipe their tears away and kiss them to sleep each night. I scold them when they act up and reassure them that none of this is their fault. I cheer one on as she spells another word for me and repeats the life cycle of a frog proudly. I hold the others fingers as she tries to pull herself up and wave to her for the hundredth time in an hour because that’s her new-found talent.
“You must be a saint! I could never do that.”
“Doesn’t your heart get broken over and over?”