“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 113:9
I’ll admit it. I was once scared to be a parent. I believe this fear may have started after my hysterectomy at age eleven. I suppose that a part of me wondered if I would know how to care of babies and little ones since I did not have the capability to carry a baby in my body. That seems sort of ridiculous, but it truly was a concern of mine.
The notion that my natural maternal instincts exited my body when the organs did is something that was never too far from my thoughts. I’m not really sure why and perhaps it was because of my young age, but I just assumed that the female organs went hand in hand with the ability to be a good mother. These thoughts stayed with me throughout my growing years and even right up to the moment when I became responsible for caring for a child.
I was not quite sure if I really knew how to mother a child. Babies always made me a little nervous, and I never really volunteered to babysit or care for children. It could be that most women feel this way before becoming a parent. I don’t know for sure. The sense of my own ability to instinctually be a mommy had been damaged somehow. I believed that I did not have what it took to be a mother and for some reason, I was not meant to be one. I feared that I would have to work harder at it and it would not come as natural.
Reality hit me the moment I became responsible for a life other than my own. My first care of a child came when we accepted temporary guardianship of my nine year old second cousin. Immediately I just knew I was meant to be a parent despite my medical history and the insecurities that followed. Something awoke in me. The inner momma that had been suppressed by life experiences began to speak, and I liked the sound of her voice.
I went from being aloof about trusting my parenting abilities to craving becoming a parent. Parenting became this complex, tiring, and joyful yet completely fulfilling experience. During this time, I started picturing myself as a mom. Growing up, this is something I never was able to do following my hysterectomy. I barely allowed myself to visualize being a mommy. I had moments when I would dream up my fantasy child, but truthfully, I never saw those dreams coming to fruition.
My husband and I knew that if we did not at least try to become parents, we would risk regretting it much later in life. I needed to parent. While raising my cousin, I felt more alive than I ever had before. The experience of caring for him lit the fire in us to become foster and adoptive parents.
Once we started fostering, it seemed that the most natural part of foster parenting our children was actually parenting them. I know that sounds so strange. The legal system does not lend itself to feeling natural. The placement of our kids was not normal in that we went from being childless to instant parents with just a few phone calls. Driving our son to visit his biological parent, handing him over, and then walking away always felt so surreal. Visits by case workers to our home every few weeks to make sure we were safely taking care of the kids felt invasive even though we appreciated them for doing so. Compared to all of the other experiences foster care provided us with, parenting them was definitely more organic.
I never knew really how easy mothering would come for me. My instinct to nurture never really left. It was not damaged from the surgery. It was not taken away with the organs. It just needed time to blossom. The inner momma in me found her voice, grew her wings, and took flight on the most amazing journey available to us on Earth….the blessed journey of selflessly putting ourselves second in order to care for and love on children.