I had another in an unfortunate trend of life-threatening emergencies the other day. Thankfully, once again, everything worked out fine. I had a few days quiet in the hospital to think about what my life stood for. What had I offered the world? Had my living made a difference? Such emergencies tend to leave one waxing poetic about the meaning of life.
I keep asking myself, if I died tomorrow, what difference would it make? I have to tell you honestly that my first answer was, “I matter to my kids” and my second was that “I have been an advocate for children through foster care,” and that matters.
People often say, “Was it worth it? Isn’t it a lot of hard work for a child you aren’t keeping?” The answer is YES. Unabashedly, yes. Our first sweet baby W who got adopted and has a younger sibling now, our second darling toddler who went back to his mommy, little baby J whose mommy decided to parent and is now so glad she did, and the others, including darling Puddin’ whose family is healing from her pre-foster-care traumas. Would someone have cared for them if I hadn’t? Undoubtedly. But I believe that it mattered that it was me, that I had something unique to give these precious ones. It matters not that they will not remember me or know my name.
I think it matters most to the 3 Littles who stayed. I am not now (nor ever will be) the perfect parent, but love is perfect and can make up for what I lack. They know, absolutely, that I love them, and that matters to them. They know they have talents and skills and value; they know they are beautiful. Even if they lost me tomorrow, they cannot un-know that. And there is no question that my older girls get it. They are wonderful and they are treasured. It’s locked in there. They will do or be something wonderful, too, both of them; they are old enough that I can see it now. It matters to them that I walked this earth.
I have had more valued jobs in my life than “Mom,” but I’ve never had a harder job. I’ve never had a job I did worse or a job that could be so utterly frustrating. And I’ve never loved a job more. It’s the most important role of my life and I hope and pray that when the scales are balanced, the “better” will outweigh the “worse” and my kids will be fine. If no line I ever penned outlasts me, if no song is sung in my honor, if no one stands beside my casket, I can go knowing I gave the best I had to the children in my little corner – and go happy. Cheers.