So let me start with a strange feeling that came over me. Then I might go back and explain where I think it came from...although I'm not sure it matters. In the middle of the night Friday night (or rather very early Saturday morning), I woke up and began planning how I could help children this Halloween who would not have the kind of special experience that I would make sure (have already made sure) my kids would have. I had a dream about a shelter for foster children, orphans who had no place to go. Jason (my husband) and I were there and we took home 2 children, a teenage boy and an elementary aged girl, just to take care of until they found homes. I had such an intense need to help in my dream. As I laid in bed after I awoke from this dream, I felt shame because one of my big worries going into the weekend was how I would get to the mall to get the boots I had been eye-ing. I knew I had to do something. And my half-asleep brain could only think about Halloween, about so many children who would not get to decorate pumpkins. So I hatched a plan at 2:30 in the morning to bring pumpkins and decorating accessories to either the children's shelter outside of town or the domestic violence shelter in town. After an hour of planning in my head of where I would buy things, where I would go, what I would say...I finally fell back to sleep.
I woke up Saturday morning to a busy morning. Jackson had a soccer game, and his birth-grandparents were coming to see him play. We also had park time planned and lunch after that. Surprisingly, my mid-night planning did not leave me. It kept rising to the surface. So, while the kids played with grandparents at the park, I got on the phone and called the shelter. They had 5 children there, and I was assured they would love to decorate pumpkins. When our lunch was over and the kids were (finally) down for naps, I left on my mission. I was compelled. I had to do it this weekend, I just had to. So I did. I shopped, I dropped the stuff off, was thanked by the staff, and I drove away.
Here's the thing, as I drove away, my mind went to what these poor children in transition would do with these pumpkins? Who would take cutesy pictures of them with their pumpkins, post those pictures for friends and family to adore, and store them in multiple places to make sure the memories were kept forever? No one would. No one held them in mind...no one held their stories. This is the tragedy, the heart ache that kept me up in the middle of the night. These children have no one to hold their experiences, their joys, their firsts, their lives. No one.
My children will have costumes and parties and pumpkins and crafts and pictures and we will talk about it for weeks. And when they are 10, we'll talk about when they were 3 and were so cute saying trick or treat. And when they are 20, we'll talk about how mom was a goof and dressed up as Eeyore and they laughed at me. And when they are 30 and have their own children to take trick or treating, we will reminisce together about our Halloween adventures and about what beautiful children they were, and how blessed I am to be their mother. I hold their stories. They hold mine. No child should be left with no one to hold their stories.
So, daily, I cry. My heart aches. As I write, tears stream down my face. I know I have to do more. I don't know what more is yet. But I will be in touch with the shelter, and I will find out what they need. Surprisingly, I work with foster children stories every day in my line of work, and I don't often feel this overwhelmed with sadness...or actually, I do. I just don't feel so compelled to do something like this. I think this all began with the story of the teenage boy who so publicly begged, he begged, for a family. Then I read the stories of the other children, some who were so close to 18 and aging out of "the system" but still desperately wanted a family to come home to, a place to belong, a family to hold them in mind as they moved out into this big world. No child should have to do that alone. But so many are. We can't adopt one now. Maybe not ever. Who knows what life has in store for our family. I can assure you, though, I am going to do more for these kids than I am doing now. I live such a selfish life where boots and pedicures and headbands for Addy and soccer practice for Jackson often dominate my mind. It's not ok. Not for me. I will do more.
So, I will post cutesy pictures of my kids in costumes with adorable pumpkins in the background. I will go on and on about the amazing energy and joy they bring to my life. I'll even complain about how freakin' hard it is to parent these little human beings. That's what I do, that's what they deserve - a mom to love them. But today, this story, this post is for them...those children who may not even take the pumpkin with them to their next stops, who won't have anyone to enjoy this Halloween with them and who won't have anyone next year who will remember what this Halloween was like for them. They deserve to have their stories told too.
So, I've been thinking....what else could we all do for them?
When Panic Attacks
3 hours ago