I'm not like the biggest Oprah fan in the world, but I do like her phrase "Aha moment." I had one not too long ago.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That is my harp playing, wavy screen inducing flashback symbol......
I've always said I wanted to write a memoir. I love to write, but don't have the patience to write a "real" book, though I've started many. But I'd have to call my memoir "Spins and Giggles" because the older I get the easier I see my life was as a child. My mom stayed at home raising all of us, I was the SURPRISE baby that the Doctors said she'd never have. My memories of my childhood literally consist of making cookies with my mom, and my dad pushing me on the tire swing in the back yard. We weren't rich, but we didn't go without. Because I am 10 and 12 years younger than my 3 older siblings I was spoiled rotten by all of them as well. I went to a tiny private school, have never ridden a school bus to school in my life, and took piano, ice skating, trumpet (yes trumpet) lessons. Life was easy peasy.
But there was one aspect in which my life was very different than others'. My parents did foster care. From the time I was old enough to remember, I remember a revolving door of siblings - coming and going. Social workers and policemen were just part of my upbringing. One day my parents would sit us down and tell us we were going to have a new brother/sister and within a few days - there they were. Usually a girl, and usually around my age. I loved having a playmate and was mostly ok with change, though I'm sure I vied pretty hard for my parents' attention. But, usually, just as quickly... my sister would go. We'd have maybe a week's notice, and the sister I had for the past 2 weeks/8 months/3 years would be gone.....and that was it.
Anyone who knows me at all knows I am HORRIBLY over-sensitive. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I've made significant strides since I was younger. So to me - the emotive, left brained, heart on her sleeve, make best friends in a day, deathly loyal person - would "lose" a sister in a week and it was so heartbreaking. I would see my parents trying to be strong, but I could tell that there were tears shed by them as well. I couldn't understand why on earth, someone would put themselves through that more than once. It was awful. What I did learn early on, despite my white-bread world, was that life was rough. That not everyone had parents who had been married for 25 years, who ate dinner together every single night, or shlepped to their child's volleyball game even though she had no hope of doing anything else besides heating up the bench. I saw children come into our home with a vast array and rainbow of hurt. I learned at six that I was one. lucky. stiff.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I still railed against my parents' rules and couldn't beLIEVE I had to be home at ten o clock and some such... but I always knew that deep down inside - I was living a dream.
When I reached High School age, my parents decided, for a vast array of reasons, to discontinue being foster care parents. I won't lie and say that I wasn't glad to once again have my parents' exclusive attention. (Can you plough the depths of my shallowness?) The older I got, the more hazy my memories became of my "different" childhood, and when I shared it with people I was always surprised at their near-obsessive interest. To me it was just the "norm." The one question I always got, was if I was going to follow in my parents' footsteps. I think my hysterical laughter answered that one straightway. Who would knowingly welcome extra tears, pain, and goodbyes into their life? Not I!
I wasn't expecting to become a parent. I was NOT one of those people who worked in the nursery at church, and babysat all the time... I didn't really like kids. Teenagers - oh I'll take them by the dozen! But little kids gave me the heebs. I was that lady in the restaurant giving your child the evil eye when they wouldn't stop screaming. But - I did become a parent - twice over even!
I remember about a year after Madeline was born, Steve and I were finishing our evening ritual of watching the ten o' clock news before going to sleep. There was a story about a baby almost exactly Madeline's age who had been left in her crib, in her carseat for 3 days. By the time the police were contacted the baby was barely alive. (I am being extremely kind in not going into graphic detail.) I listened in horror as they described how long the baby must have cried, how desperately hungry she was - how loudly she must have screamed to finally get the neighbors' attention.
I was beside myself in tears. I remember turning to my husband and saying, "Don't you just want to go get that baby, and just hold her for hours straight? To give her a nice warm bath and soft clothes - to snuggle her and sing to her and give her all the love that she was denied? Just tell her that for as long as she's in your house she will never want for anything?"