Universal Language

I hold my daughter close, carrying her on my hip. She is chattering away as we walk down the sidewalk to her classroom. Another parent exits, and holds the door open for us to walk into the classroom. Most of the students are playing on a carpeted section of the room with a variety of toys. I walk toward the breakfast table to put Cornelia down to eat, and my eyes meet two dark brown familiar eyes. Our eyes lock, her face begins to light up, a smile takes over her whole face and she says a word that makes my heart pound. Her eyes are still locked on mine as she yells, “Mommy!!” She leaves her breakfast at the table and races into my arms, buries her face into my shoulder and just lets her whole body relax and rest in me. I am still holding my daughter on my left hip, and now she resides on my right one. The girls look at each other and giggle and smile. A sweet reunion. The two girls share the same class, the same teacher, and for a very short time, they shared me as, “Momma.” How can this be? This is the reality of foster care.

My baby girl that I am holding on my right hip has already called several women, “Momma.” during her short time in foster care. And I happen to be one of them. I cared for her and her sisters over the summer for a little less than 2 weeks and again for 1 week just recently. We knew it was temporary. We knew that it was respite care to provide a break for their current foster mommy. But knowing the time is short doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. Every bedtime routine mattered, every time I braided her hair mattered, every story, every meal, every hug and kiss, and even the correction and timeouts, they all mattered. Our relationship was that of mommy and daughter. That is what happens when a child depends solely upon you for their care, and when that child is a toddler, they don’t understand the full picture. And thank goodness they don’t, but what every child and every human speaks is the same language. The language of love.

When this precious baby girl came to my home for the first time, she was mostly nonverbal and when she did speak it was in Spanish. Yet, she knew and felt love. She knew that when she cried, I would be there. She knew that food was being prepared and served to her with love and kindness. She knew that she was being changed, and dressed, and fed, and cared for all with love. I stayed there in the classroom for longer than usual, probably close to 20 minutes. I snuggled my daughter and my foster daughter and told them that I loved them and that they would have a great day. As I left, I hugged and kissed each on the top of their head.

I walked out of the classroom feeling a swirl of emotions. I was breathing in the cool morning air, and heading for the school office to leave when I heard a squeal, “Mooooommmmmyyyy!” I turned to see her big sister who is just a preschooler, barely a year older, standing in the hallway smiling and looking at me. She didn’t move from her place. She was just standing there, in the hall, smiling, and yelling, “Mommy!” I waved for her to come, and that was all she needed, she flew into my arms. I scooped her up and the same scene from the classroom repeated all over again. She laid her head on my chest and held me tight. I walked over and said hello to her teacher while she just hugged me. Her eyes were closed tight and her hug was not releasing. She was relaxed in my arms, and her little heart was safe in that moment. I talked to her, and told her how much I loved her. We talked for a few moments and then I set her down to go play. She stood at the fence yelling, “ Byyyyy Moooommmmmyyy!” I blew her kisses until I was around the corner. The tears sprang forth from my eyes. The emotions were all over the place.

I got into my car and just sat in silence for a bit. Breathing in the feelings. The girls are safe. They are in a good foster home. I will see them again soon because they attend the same daycare as my daughter, so this was not a one time only chance to see them. But it was the very first time I’ve seen them since they stayed with us last. This was the first time I have seen them since they went back to their other foster momma. And of all the women that they call momma, I am the one that they have spent the least amount of time with, but even if for a short time, the moments counted.

The hugs and the smiles and intense yells of, “Mommy!” remind me that each moment counts.

If only a few weeks of hugs and caring for a child as if she were my own can develop that type of bond, how deep and how profound is the impact that we make on our children that we raise up through adulthood? Every moment matters my friends! And we all speak the same language, love.

#thisisfostercare #thisislove #everymomentcounts

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