Talk about a knife to the heart; that little girl? The one about which I wrote on Monday? We’ll call her A. Now when I drop Owen off at daycare, she comes running up to me to be picked up. Also, this morning when I was kissing Owen goodbye, she cried out, “Me, too! Hug!’ and I had to go back in and give her a kiss and a hug. Her sister, whom I will call B, has the most beautiful brown, nappy hair I have ever seen in my life, and gorgeous brown eyes, and the sweetest, most delicate pierced earlobes you can imagine, finally smiled at me today, and told me that she snapped her pants up all by herself.
Yesterday, Jacquie was making some toast and I was wiping Owen’s disgusting nose and B, who is, I think, 4, was kind of wistfully looking at us and said, “My mom never feeds me.” And I did not stop to think that she was talking about her mom, not her foster mom, so I was kind of teasing her saying, “Oh, she never feeds you? Never, ever? I don’t believe that for a minute!” She looked hurt, and only later did it occur to me that maybe her mom really DIDN’T feed her. She certainly doesn’t look undernourished now, but they have been with their foster mom for about 6 months, so the most obvious affects would have been alleviated with good care.
I have found out a little bit more, too, not about the circumstances of them being taken away but what has happened in the ensuing months. Parental rights are in the process of being terminated, which has to be done before the children can be adopted. Mom is fighting the termination-but for only one child. She only wants B; she has said, “I won’t fight the termination for A if you will let me keep B,” as if A is some sort of bargaining tool. T, the foster mom, said that the fact that she actually suggested such a thing is simply more proof that she is unfit, and helps the termination proceedings greatly.
I keep thinking about this, in fact am obsessing about it a little bit. I cannot imagine how a parent can choose one child over another. I cannot imagine looking at my four children and saying, “Okay, I want you and you, but you other two have to go.” The damage that would do to ALL of the children would be lifelong and devastating. In trying in vain to understand this, I thought back to my very, very worst moments of hating my ex-husband SO much that if I saw him on the street I probably would have run him over without a second thought. I thought of my sweet Sam, who looks EXACTLY like his dad save hair and eye color, and cannot imagine taking out my hatred of his father on him. It just-I don’t get it. How can anyone, no matter what water is under the bridge, no matter what heinous things have occurred at the hands of the father, hate the child (I am not talking about the products of rape or incest, as that is a different situation and one in which I think abortion makes complete sense)? God, I am not naive; I know that things like this happen all too regularly. Mom makes poor decisions and sometimes doesn’t even know who the father is, then chooses to continue the pregnancy for whatever reasons, and then? Abandonment and heartbreak for the kids follow. I don’t get it, I really don’t.
And I don’t WANT to get it. I want exactly what I have: four kids from three different fathers (which isn’t as careless as it sounds, believe me!), four kids whom I adore and cherish in their own right. Regardless of who donated the sperm, they all share a common thread and that is ME. How can I love one more? I abhor Sam’s dad and I love Owen’s-but I could no more pick one of them than I could cut off one of my arms.
Either Dingo or JT commented on my earlier post (sorry, too lazy to go back and check the comments to see which one, plus hey, who couldn’t use a little shout-out?) about how maybe it is time for a career change, and mentioned something about Social Work and advocacy, and yes, I have thought about it. I went back to college at age 30 and Social Work was my ultimate goal. However, I found that going to school full-time (which I HAD to do in order to qualify for financial aid) and working full-time and being the single mom of three was too much for me, and I made the choice to stop going after three semesters. I know, I know, lots of other single moms go on to get their degree, my dear April being one of them, but at that time in my life, it just wasn’t something that I felt like I could do. And now, with a toddler at home again, I know that until he starts school I can’t even think about it. Not if I want to be the kind of a mom I AM.
However, it isn’t just about the whole getting a degree thing-it’s about knowing that right now, my focus has GOT to be on my own kids. I can feel for and want to help and get angry on behalf of the millions of neglected and unwanted kids in the world. I can (and often do, until I have to force myself to go on a media hiatus or plug my ears and sing Jesus Loves Me if someone starts talking about it) cry over the terrible things that happen on a daily basis, I can rant and rave about how we are a nation who does not give a fuck about our kids but would much rather fund a war to help a country who doesn’t want help anyway. I can expend a ton of emotional and physical energy on trying to fix this problem, but at this point in time, I can’t do anything tangible to help. I cannot sacrifice my children to attain some lofty goal of curing society’s ills. Because if all of my focus is on saving the world, who will save my children?
I leave you with this poem. A poem that in the dead of night has given me the strength to go on when I have questioned and wondered what happened to all of my dreams and ambitions. When I have been crying and heartbroken because this is not what I imagined my life to be, this poem has reminded me that having children is only temporary, and there is time. Time to enjoy and love and cherish and raise kids who will have an impact on the world, and time, later to make my own.
There Will Be Time
There is time still
for sitting in cafes in Paris
for going to meet
There is time still.
Now I am caring for eternity.
Carrying bodies soft with sleep
to beds of flowered
quilts and pillows.
Answering cries deep out of
My soul now is dwelling in
the house of tomorrow.
Tomorrow there will be time
for long leisurely conversations,
for poems to write,
and dances to perform.
So I surrender now
to them and this,
knowing it is they
who will teach me
how to do it all.