Happy weekend! I woke up this morning and realized that it was just about a year ago that we welcomed to our home a young three month old little girl, who needed a foster home for a short time. We put last year’s holiday season on hold and took care of her for a month…and it was awesome. When we said goodbye to her, and she went home to her parents, I was struggling to make sense of my feelings, and I decided to write them down.
Looking back on it, I’m not sure who I was writing to, but I clearly needed to put my feelings in words so that I could organize the heartbroken chaos in my head, and take a few steps toward sanity after the whirlwind of welcoming a baby into our home, falling completely in love with her, and then saying goodbye.
Last year on Thanksgiving we wound up with a little girl…so, naturally, our proverbial fingers are crossed for next week. In the meantime, here’s what I wrote down on December 26, 2017. It’s really a love letter to Laura, who spent every day taking care of the little girl who changed us, permanently.
December 26, 2017
I finish the year covering a broad spectrum of human emotions. I’m sure this is true for everyone, but bare with me as I explain.
For the past 30 days, Laura and I have fostered a 3 month old, who needed us, and taught us a kind of love we would have otherwise never known. I learned that the person I married, in all I knew about her, is more amazing than I could have ever known when we married. Her heart shines the love of a thousand suns, and I adore both the light and the shadow cast by each ray. She sacrifices herself for those in need. She gives of herself, too much sometimes, and makes other people feel comfortable and welcome, even when they do not always deserve it. She can’t exist another way, and I love that about her. We knew at the beginning this was a temporary situation, and we fell in love the way any normal, giving hearts would have fallen. We woke up mid-night, giving all that we had for a smile…a smile we would have done anything to see. We ended tired days with more energy than we imagined we could muster. We learned the sacrifice of parenting, and we learned it together. And it was worth it.
For two days now we are home alone, without the sweet little soul who filled our holiday cup with overflowing sunshine wine. We learned that we have more to give than we ever imagined. We learned that when you choose a spouse, the exposed parts you can see easily on the white part of the moon are easy to love, and you also step out in faith in the parts that remain in darkness. And as the parts cast in shadows reveal themselves in daylight, you hope you chose well. In our case, we made perfect choices – the parts in the shadows held an overflowing basket of capabilities, warmth and love that we had not yet seen in one another. Each of us, on our own, flexed a set of muscles that were easily admired and adored by the other. Baby-whisperers, each…and that’s easy to fall further in love with. Lucky us.
But here’s where we’ve landed. Two days have passed and it’s been extremely difficult. It’s hard not to know how she’s doing, after spending a month ensuring every bottle, hug, and smile. We gave our love, home, hearts and time out of basic human decency – and that’s the only reason anyone should give. We did it because the young bundle of joy and love who found our home had needs, and we, through a twist of fate and opportune timing, had the ability to satisfy those needs 24 hours a day for 30 days. We were rare breeds this back-half of 2017, who actually could put everything on hold to open our home, and care for the daily and nightly needs of a baby girl who deserves all the things that create those middle-of-the-night smiles and early morning stretches after good, confident rest. We did it because it was the right thing to do. And even now, when we hurt so much without her, we know we did the right thing – for her and for us. And we know she, and we, are better for it. We also, by the way, know the merits of vodka and the sanity it restores at 8:45 PM, when a day spent asking “why” is coming to a close.
We learned some stuff along the way. We learned prioritization. Our careers are important to us, and we now have them in perspective. We want success, and we will sacrifice for those successes. And we know balance. We know that professional success is a measure, and it’s not the only measure. We learned to find humor in hilarious parenting moments…like singing songs about washing our hands “when I pee and poop”. Find a professional comedian who can give you that kind of belly laugh…I dare you.
We know the next 20 years are on us, and we don’t know what they hold. We know they hold whatever we want, and we don’t know what that means yet. Other than this – and this is the one certainty I’ve found over the past 48 hours without that darling soul in my arms…I want those years to be with Laura. She completes me, and my family…whatever it looks like…and whatever and whomever it entails.