I don’t know if you donated at church, or at Social services, or through work. I can’t tell you directly because I don’t know how your generosity found its way to my living room. But maybe someone will share this, and you’ll see it, and you’ll know:
Thank you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness more than you can comprehend.
I can’t tell you directly that when I put on the jammies you bought, he smiled a little – something I rarely see- as he looked at himself in the mirror. I can’t send you a photo of how proud he looked and tell you how he said, “Momma, I look kinda cute!”
I wish I could post the shot I just took when I went in to pull that fleece blanket up around his shoulders. You would see that he is still clutching the stuffed dinosaur you wrapped, and that he made sure your handmade blanket covered both of them.
I wish you could know that your gift of suitcases has already imparted a dignity to my son that many foster children do not have. You can’t know that none of my fostered children ever leave my home with their possessions in trash bags because I buy suitcases at every yard sale and Goodwill store I see. But you thought of that indignity nevertheless, and you provided brand new bags for his precious belongings.
I’d love for you to know how I teared up as my new son let me hold him on my lap to read the book you sent. It was about trucks- his favorite. Was that a lucky guess, or did his caseworker tell you? Either way, it was the Best Book Ever and he let me read it, holding him and restoring neural pathways all the while, three whole times. And because of your book, he can now recognize the letter T for truck. So the teacher in me thanks you as well as the mom in me.
You also can’t know that my first reaction when the worker brought your gifts was to feel a bit offended- that I resented the implication that I needed help to provide this precious child with all he deserved- and I’m glad for that lack of your knowledge. See, you most likely aren’t a foster parent, and you don’t know the number of times I have actually had near strangers ask me – In. Front. Of. My. Children. – how much I “get paid for them.” You don’t know how it rankles to smile and say that I am paid immeasurably in kisses and blessings when I want to say “Ninety seven CENTS an hour, and daycare costs come out of that. Now tell me again how foster parents are in it for the money.”
You can’t know that I have learned to document every time my three year old barks his shin (because that is what healthy, running-and-jumping preschoolers do) for fear that someone who would never call to report a bruise on a biological child will feel it’s her civic duty to tattle about mine. You don’t understand that when I do not react to his sixteenth meltdown of the morning it is not because I am an inattentive and uncaring person, but that I am using a carefully constructed behavior plan that will help my son in the long run, despite hurting your ears in the grocery store. You don’t understand that his cruddy shirt, worn twice in a row, reminds him of the “real” Momma who hurt him badly, but he still misses desperately, and that it helps him feel some control to be able to choose his clothes- not that I don’t adequately clothe my kid. You don’t grasp that bath time terrifies him because of what was done to him there, so that tattoo is still on his arm for a darned good reason and not because I am lazy.
So you don’t understand that I questioned even your pure and anonymous generosity, because so many people question my motivations and actions as well.
I’m glad you won’t know that ugly side of this life. I’m glad that, for whatever reason, you gave… not because my children would not have enough to meet their needs without you, but because you met MY need- the need to know that I am not in this alone. Your gift reminded me that not everyone is called to adoption, but that everyone is called to care for widows and orphans, and that you took time and money in this insane pressure we call “the holidays” and you did exactly that. And in doing that, you cared for me, and that little bit of care gives me just enough oil to keep my lamp burning one more day.
Which will be enough to keep my child warm.
Thank you for being part of his flame.