I have always been a very hands-on mom. My kids were held. A lot. As much as possible for as long as they would let me. When we got home from the hospital with our firstborn, we stopped in the doorway of the room we’d prepared for him, and I knew I could not put him down so far away from my heart. So I followed my instincts, regardless of what any parenting expert of the day might say. My children were all totally present with me as much as possible, waking and sleeping, breastfeeding for years, no rigid schedules, no idea how much they were eating, just the evidence of happy babies and children. Secure, needs met, loved.
As my older children became adults, my thoughts would go to someday when they were married and had kids, what would my role be, how much involvement would they allow in caring for their babies? Other than my husband and our mothers, very few people ever had access to ours. Only time would tell how my kids would feel about me caring for their little ones.
I don’t remember talking with my older daughter much about how she saw my role, my duties, how much involvement she had in mind. Honestly, I don’t think she realized how extensive it would end up being, caring for her foster baby while she worked those first few weeks. And being a single, working woman, we’d never had reasons to “what if” about someday babies.
So that first day, meeting her first foster newborn, I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. What I wanted was to hold that baby girl! My husband and younger daughter got her first, taking their time learning her face, hoping for a glimpse into her eyes, into her. It was so exciting! We’d really had no idea that when they said our daughter would be certified by Thanksgiving, she would actually have her first placement on December 10: this three day old girl she had picked up from the hospital, and to protect her privacy had decided to call her Baby A to the general public.
My daughter loves schedules and plans and routines, and because of her nature and her schooling and her jobs working with little ones and their parents, she was eager to get this baby on a schedule, detailing when she’d had her last bottle at the hospital and what time it would be before she got hungry for the next one. And I just had to keep quiet.
Because babies can’t tell time.
But before I had to worry about whether I was getting everything done according to the plan that would be detailed to me over the next few weeks, I most wanted to just hold this baby.
Finally my chance.
Jesus says in Mark 9:37:
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
I knew this child was not bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh in any material sense. Nor was she born of my daughter. But my arms knew how to cradle her, steadfast heartbeat how to pick up the faster rhythm of a tiny one and sense when it is restless or calm and slow the breathing and hold against warm skin, and feel the syncopation of two hearts taking each other in.
Welcome, welcome sweet girl. How could I not know I’d been waiting for this very child? Thank you, Jesus, for this gift.
There are no guarantees with fostering. My daughter had no way of knowing how long this child would be in her home, in our lives. But from that first day, there was something I knew for sure.
My heart was irrevocably, intimately connected with Baby A.