It is a strange thing for me to witness. This toddler child who follows my daughter around the house, reaching for her so longingly, and calling after her so tenderly. This small child, whose mother is too busy partying to care for him and whose father has just been released from his most recent stint in jail and whose grandparents are so tired and sick that they have asked my daughter to care for him temporarily, has christened my daughter "Mama."
His eyes fill with tears when she leaves the room. "Mama," he cries.
His eyes light upon her return. "Mama," he giggles.
He is afraid. "Mama!" he screams.
The bond is there. I can see it.
I watch him snuggle into her arms and find the comfort and peace his little mind so desperately needs. I see the joy on her face when he reaches for her.
And my heart is conflicted. I remember...
Nineteen short years ago, when I was a young 25 and a newly certified foster parent, a two-year-old girl was placed in my home. Only recently graduated and not yet married, I was finally realizing my dream. I poured everything I had into that little girl. She called me "Mama."
She grew up. She loved me. She hated me. She rebelled and said I wasn't her "real" mother.
I hurt. I broke. I cried. She cried. She came back and is here now. We are mother and daughter again.
And now I watch a scene so familiar and simultaneously strange unfold before me.
This little one is calling her "Mama" and she is considering becoming a foster parent.
My heart is conflicted.
I know what this road looks like. I have walked it. I have rejoiced on it. I have wept buckets of tears on it. The highs and lows are so intensely polar. I know this road with its twists and turns. I live it daily.
And because I know it so well, I wonder, do I want her to walk the same road I have walked?
And then I hear him call her "Mama."