What does it mean to be a single foster parent?
It means a lot of people in your life saying, "Are you crazy?" (and even you secretly think you must be).
It means your house might be a little less tidy for a few days after the children leave because you're tired and you're triumphant and you just took care of a little one on your own and you both survived.
It means braving a lot of "bless your heart"s and "aren't you just the sweetest thing for doing something like this"s and "why don't their parents want them?"s and "I would do what you're doing, but I wouldn't want to get attached, because that would just be too sad, you know?"s.
It means calling your mom and asking, "What do two-year-olds eat?"
It means making your best friends get background checks so they can help babysit or come over and keep you company... and when you get a boyfriend, it means asking, "I know this is weird, but will you fill out this FBI background check, please?"
It means when a little one's voice says, "Mama!" you say, "Yes?" and pretend like it's not a strange feeling at all to answer to that name.
It means your weekends are a whole lot less boring and your house is not so quiet any more.
It means having the advantage of learning parenting tricks that you will most definitely put to use when you have a permanent family.
It means morning snuggles and middle-of-the-night baby feeding smiles and before bedtime songs.
It means you get a reason to re-watch kids movies and read beloved children's books.
It means going to the kids clothes section of Target and actually having a reason to buy something adorable there.
It means people stepping up and saying, "I can't do what
you're doing, but let me help you with a need" and blessing you more
than they can ever know.
It means fighting tears
after the kids left because their stories weigh heavily and you can't
share them; all you can do is pray and love and sometimes cry too.
It means learning how to live less selfishly.
It means finding a perfect hand print on a window pane a month after a little one left and wondering when it was put there.
It means sometimes wondering, "What was I thinking when I signed up for this madness?" and other times thinking, "This was the best idea ever!"
It means learning your limits, because you can't do everything by
yourself - and so you cannot always answer "yes" when a call comes in.
It means learning more about yourself and who you are in crises and stresses and happinesses and responsibility than you ever knew before.
It means being who you were before, with a little more spontaneity, a little more responsibility, a little more accountability, and a whole lot more adventure.