foster care

Expect the Unexpected

The title may not be the best, but it’s true. I had been very ill for the two weeks before our road trip and had missed a lot of work. I took two weeks off for our vacation, was home three days and then got the call. My mom had collapsed, they’ll know more in the morning. What I wasn’t told during that Thursday evening phone call was that she was on life support, not just merely “in the hospital.”

We had our two boys at home and had been expected to take Fiona, their sister, for a few days the next week while her foster mom was out of town. It was going to be a tough job for both of us as Fiona does not stray easily from her routine. My mother wasn’t married and I was her only child. I asked Joe to care for the kids and I was on a plane by Friday night. I think about it over and over. I wish I had booked that plane ticket the second he told me.

I’m sitting on the plane, on the run way, waiting. I remember holding my breath. Then they announced they were deplaning and would everyone calmly collect their baggage and exit the plane. People were yelling and screaming that they needed to get XYZ. Some had already had one flight cancelled. I just started moaning, howling. “My mom is dying and I have to get home.”

A few hours later and a cancelled rental car reservation and my aunt picked me up from the airport. We picked up my grandmother and went to the hospital. It took a few days and a few arguments with family members before it was decided to pull the plug. Mom was dead set against doctors. Without going into detail, she died the second she had collapsed. She had been very sick, and hid it from me and her family.

I had gotten into a loud emotional argument, in her room, when I ran out of the hospital. I called Joe. I’m crying, and making no sense when I hear Fiona in the background – crying. It was official. Joe had the harder job. He kept up with three kids, one of whom had never slept over, and did amazing.

I made it through the funeral, the family, and packing to go home. I knew that I couldn’t collapse because I had two kids at home to take care of. I thought when I got back, I’d get right back into the routine. Boy was I wrong.

The thing that kept going through my head most in those first few months was, how can I be a mom when I don’t have my mom. It seemed so cruel to be that early in the process of fostering/parenting and I couldn’t talk to my own mother. I couldn’t keep up with the kids and I couldn’t keep up at work. Joe wound up picking up a lot of the slack. He also realized how much I was doing around the house and with the kids. It took quite a while to get into the routine again, especially to connect with the kids again, but it happened. Watching the baby develop into a toddler really helped. I took joy in him smiling, eating, cooing and saying mama.

I’m not the same person I was before my Mom died. I’m not the same person I was before I became a parent. There are so many events happening that are firsts. First Halloween as a parent without my mother. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas when she would have showered them with gifts. . . It’ll never be the same.