I’ll never forget the moment I found out I would finally become a mum – a moment of excitement mixed with joy mixed with anticipation.
I’ll never forget the individual moments in time when I first held each of my sons. When I looked into their eyes and connected to them in what can only be described as a mother-child spiritual bond.
And, most important to me, I’ll never forget the feeling of pride and love when they, each in their own time, called me mummy.
However, my journey to becoming a mum has been a little different to most.
I didn’t find out I was to become a mum through a pregnancy test, I found out through a phone call. I didn’t hold either of my sons as newborns; they were 17 months and 12 months respectively when I held them for the first time. Neither of my kids was born from my body, and they are not biologically related to each other or to me, but as is often the case with mums in my position, they were definitely “born into my heart”.
You see, I am a mum (and a very proud one!) because I am a CatholicCare Sydney foster carer.
At about the age of nine or ten, I discovered there were kids in the world who didn’t have the kind of family I had. I discovered there are situations in life when kids need a family (who may not be realted to them biologically) to raise and love them. And I instinctively knew, as I watched Romanian and Ethiopian orphans on the evening news, that I would somehow, someday, provide that love and care to kids who needed a family to call their own.
Fast forward to my late twenties and my husband and I had been unable to have any biological children. Drawing from my instinct, our experiences and our desire to share all that we had, we learned there are many ways to create a family. I believe that the idea of family created by love, rather than just through birth, has been a strong message. It’s a message I feel we promote not only to our kids but to our friends and family who have walked alongside us on our journey.
We are a normal family. We have trials and tantrums, fun and family time. I’m a normal mum who suffers from bouts of mother’s guilt, who beams with mother’s pride and can be a feisty mother bear when protecting my cubs. My boys may not look like me, but they don’t need to; I love them unconditionally. My boys may both have a birth mother, or “Tummy Mum”, who should be openly talked about on Mother’s Day and that’s OK because it’s part of their life and their story.
Our life may appear unusual to some and may have a few extra layers to consider, but it’s normal to us and it’s normal for my boys. I may not have the memories and joy of pregnancy or my name listed on a birth certificate, but I have the special joy of cuddles, kisses and “I love yous” from my kids.
As their mum I get to enjoy different special moments. Moments like when two boys with no biological connection call each other brother, play, argue and laugh, or protect each other as brothers do – those moments remind me that family is family no matter how it’s created.
So, just like many other mums around Australia, Sunday will bring Mother’s Day stall gifts, beautiful craft made with love or maybe some flowers to say “I love you”. I will cherish it all and know in my heart of hearts that if not for foster care I would not have any of it. Being a mum through the foster care system may seem unconventional but if not for being a carer I would not have two cherubs in my life, or the blessings that come with the name “mum”.
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