Because…one more Mother’s Day post can’t hurt.
It’s a messy day for lots of reasons. It’s a painful day for some, a celebration for many-and awkward for most. Do you talk about it from the pulpit? Do you ignore it’s existence? What the heck do we do with this day.
I’ve written and read my fair share of opinions, but there’s this overlooked population of people, caretakers, that tends to get forgotten in general, but especially on this day: The Misters.
Now, let me explain what a Mister is. A Mister is a term of endearment given to me by Young Buck, my oldest of three little brothers. my brothers (Young Bug, Cub, Tiny Cub) were put into my care four years ago, after being removed from our bio mom by CPS. It was a necessary removal for their safety and well being. One day, my Young Buck looked at me and said, You’re my Mister-my mom and my sister.
I’ve lived and loved this title everyday since.
Foster parenting is complicated in general. You’re caretaker, you’re mom, but sometimes you’re viewed (or told by Social Services like me) as a glorified babysitter. You fall in love, but are living in fear of your heart being ripped from your chest because one court date and it could all be over. All the hours of rides and therapy and cuddles and kisses could be taken in a snap…But reunification, if done truly truly truly in the benefit of the child (which, in my opinion, is a rare find) can be a beautiful and good and holy thing.
Now, add another layer to it.
Imagine with me, that the person who has caused the baby or child you took home from the hospital, or had dropped off at your doorstep with one shoe and clothes on his back, or that was so severely underweight he looked like he hadn’t eaten in weeks when placed in your home, was abused and/or neglected by the same person who abused or neglected you.
You know their patterns. You can hear the stories from your fostered babes and see the drunken slurs and angry rants and feel the slap. The sting is one you actually know, you can’t even imagine because you just know.
And, for the sake of the child, you separate yourself and your experience because it’s not about you. This time, it’s about them, and their healing and their growing up to be strong, capable people. And oh you get the joy to do that because, hopefully, someone did that for you too.
As a Mister, you get pegged in court as an angry orphan, trying to get back at your bio mom for all the pain she’s caused by taking her kids. You’re voiceless and tied down from all but screaming, YOU DON’T GET IT. I have nothing but compassion for my abuser. Nothing but compassion and sadness. But I cannot and will not stopped fighting for these kids to have the best life because that’s what I promised to do. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
Yep, as a foster parent, you promise to do everything you can to fight for the wellbeing of the child. “It’s your job to fight,” they’ll tell you. Unless you’re a Mister. If you speak up and fight, oh it could shed you in a poor poor light.
Because the history there is ugly. Even if you’ve been redeemed and rescued. You have a Mom, a new Mom who’s taught you and gave you away at your wedding day and you’ve been a mom to a precious precious babe and you’re healthy and thriving and all that goes in between, as a Mister, your voice is a hard one to hear, because courts don’t like complicated, Darling. And bio-mom’s patterns are the same as ten years ago, and if you bring this to light, well, girl, you’re just a little too “attached” they think.
As a Mister, on Mother’s Day, people sheepishly smile and say “Happy Mother’s Day?” and some respond great by saying you do good and I see you with a card and a cupcake at your door. Some people ignore it, or ask you how your “first” mother’s day is after you have a bio-babe, forgetting the fact that you have a 17 year old who you buy milk for and go to every game is with you, too. Or, some, just say nothing. And honestly…there’s no right answer. Because this day is messy and hard. Because, all the while, as a Mister, you’re grieving that fact that your mom, the one your heart aches to call “mommy” and hug, is incapable of loving you, of seeing you, of saying, Girl, you do good, because she’s accepted a toxin’s temptation over ever loving you.
So, do me a favor this Mother’s Day-not for me, but for all the Mister’s and Survivors and sisters out there, will you? Remember that this day is complicated. And it deserves to be treated with care and delicate hands. There’s no right way, there’s no easy prayer, but there is God-given qualities like empathy and a simple touch that can make all the difference. Everyone has a story with Motherhood-whether with their own mom or in growing into becoming a mom, and those fragile hearts have to be handled with care. It’s not a perfectly kept and wrapped day or phrase that can heal all-but I think with the wisdom God promises, and a pause before speaking, and the recognition that yes, even your story has broken and shattered pieces (so don’t try to fix others’ pain…embrace it) and grace, abundant grace, we can start the healing process together in recognizing that we are all walking this journey with a sacred limp.
Mother’s Day for a Mister is messy, as it is for many other women and mommies and sisters and friends-it deserves to be carried with delicate hands and careful phrases. It’s a day to remember and grieve the loss of a childhood you never had, or the loss of a child. It’s a day to grieve the loss of the mom you loved, or who just could never love you for whatever reason. It’s a day to grieve the waiting, the loss, and the surrender you are continually called to give.
And it’s a day to celebrate the Mom who stepped in and said, “I’ll be that for you,” and the Cubs brought to your doorstep. And the little blessings in between to remind you that you’re still breathing and thriving in the midst of the grieving. That’s you’re fully alive and you’re going to make it, because there’s beauty and strength and courage in the dust and grit. And this is just the beginning.