One of the things I hear most when people learn we are foster parents is “Oh, wow. I could never do that!” as if we’re some kind of super parents. There’s even a photo floating around the Internet with the caption, “I’m a foster parent. What’s your superpower?”
While I’ll admit foster parenting does require a lot of extra time and commitment, I don’t think it’s much different from parenting in general. And there’s definitely nothing about me that makes me more equipped to handle it.
I make mistakes. I get mad at my kids. I forget things on a regular basis. Like any mom, I feel like I fail them all the time. But, as Adopt US Kids points out in their marketing campaigns, you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. You just have to be there.
I might screw up in a lot of ways, but my kids are safe, healthy, and loved.
Here are a few of my not-so-superhero moments from the recent past, along with all the “good enough” moments my kids live with every day:
1. I was late to pick-up after cross-country practice, but my kids are active, love their sports, and I know they’re in a safe place while they wait.
2. I forgot to pack my daughter’s lunch, but there’s back-up money in her school account, she gets healthy meals and snacks all day, and this time I actually managed to pack and deliver a replacement before lunch.
3. I completely missed a Girl Scout field trip, but we spent a lot of time relaxing as a family that day, and later we visited the museum exhibit she missed.
4. The Tooth Fairy forgets our house on occasion, but I’m pretty sure they buy my story that she was overloaded that night or couldn’t quite get through their mess to the bed.
5. I may have missed a school pickup or two, but now I have a series of daily alarms for every occasion.
6. We overslept and missed the bus on the second day of school, but I went to every Meet the Teacher Night and every activity meeting of the new school year.
7. I forget to sign permission slips and assignment notebooks, but I read all 124 Friday emails from the kids’ schools and teachers.
8. Our house is a mess and the car is a disaster, but I supervise homework every day, cook dinner every night, and make sure all four kids shower daily.
9. I forget wash the uniform before the big game, but I’m in the stands every night and weekend cheering for all five teams.
10. I forgot to call our caseworker back this week and haven’t managed to schedule a CASA meeting in months, but they know he’s safe, loved, and well-cared for in between visits.
11. I sometimes struggle with the heavy emotions of foster care and adoption, but I don’t let the kids see how much it hurts me, and I will always love them through all of it.
Sure, foster parenting is a little more involved with weekly home visits, case conferences, and training requirements, but it’s not much more challenging than the usual doctor’s appointments, school conferences, and other meetings for our kids. Don’t get me wrong – foster parenting is hard. It just doesn’t require any super powers or special talents. Besides, isn’t parenting already tough?
I’m in this, full time, for all of my kids — without a cape and everything. (Although, if anyone has an invisible jet, I’d really like to hide out from all these kids every now and then.)