Thursday, January 16, 2014

On becoming plain old parents

In a few days my family will become a forever, legal family. A judge will bang her gavel (well, maybe not actually bang her gavel, but she will wield her pen) and declare that my husband and I are the legal parents of my youngest child. I’ve done this two other times now in the last three years, but this time is a little different because it will be the last time my husband and I do this – so it officially changes our title from foster parents to just plain old parents. That seems weird to me. I never wanted children when I was younger. I would declare vehemently and often that I would never have children, and I was completely serious about those statements. I think I felt this way partially because I was terrified that I would be a horrible parent like my parents were – or maybe because I was afraid to even consider the possibility that I could love or be loved by another human. I had no idea the depth and richness of love that I was capable of feeling towards someone other than myself – and to be honest – I didn’t know I could really love myself either. This journey into family-ness has been one of discovery for me. Hell, the whole meeting Evan and falling in love with him was an ordeal in and of itself, let alone him actually wanting to marry me (he asked me four separate times so I know it wasn’t an accident), and have babies with me, and living with my special version of crazy (which, by the way, we should nominate him for sainthood for navigating for the last seven years). The journey has not been easy. Evan and I have fought and argued and fussed and whined at and to each other. We’ve had financial pain as we’ve discovered the costs of raising children are quite significant. We’ve had sleepless nights as one or more of the kids have been sick, or teething, or experiencing night terrors for the first time. Our marriage has had to grow with our growing family – and sometimes that has meant we’ve had to seek counseling to help us navigate each other’s meanings and fears and challenges and strengths. And we’ve had days where we’ve gone to bed angry with each other (even though they say don’t do that). But through this all, we’ve also grown fonder of each other and learned to appreciate the nuances of each other’s parenting skills. It’s been interesting for me to observe Evan growing as a parent – watching him make decisions he’s never had to make before and learning how to debate an incredibly intelligent three year old who sometimes uses fuzzy logic. It’s been downright funny to watch him learn how to change a dirty diaper with a squirmy baby who decides to add to the diaper mid-change. And it’s been heartwarming to watch him teach my children how to put puzzles together or learn how to catch and throw a ball. In a few days the title we share will change – because once the judge announces Elizabeth Grace for the first time to the world and makes us a legal forever family of five, she will also be announcing the closure of our home to more foster children because we will be full. So we’ll have to learn how to navigate the world simply as parents. And that is going to take some getting used to… for me at least. I think Evan will be excited about our new chapter – and I will too – just for different reasons!

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