“If today was your last day.”
I remember hearing those lines a decade ago before everyone was hating on Nickelback. And they ring true tonight.
I don't know if this is my last night, but it is the last night that we get to have this little one in our house. At least for the foreseeable future. He might come back or this could be goodbye forever. How do you say goodbye then?
You pay more attention to his sweet smile than to your phone. You focus on making him laugh more than you get frustrated over every little toddler meltdown or act of disobedience. You cuddle a little longer, read one more bedtime story, pray a little harder, and watch him sleep peacefully when he finally drifts off.
You cherish the moments that you may never get again.
Being a foster parent makes you more aware of a truth that all parents need to remember. You're not guaranteed tomorrow. Your precious child could not wake up, could be involved in an accident, could suffer a personality-altering seizure, could get a life-changing diagnosis. You just don't know.
I know this makes me sound really morbid, but foster parenting makes you come face to face with the reality of goodbyes and uncertain futures. And it makes the moments that you DO get that much sweeter.
So foster parents, cherish them in the unknown. And if you're a parent of your own flesh and blood, hold them tight, kiss their little head, squish their baby cheeks, and write down every cute mispronounced word they say so you can remember it all. Because babies don't keep and all that jazz. These moments are precious and few.
You think now that 18 years will be a lifetime, but I thought 13 days would feel like a long time and he's already leaving. Someone somewhere said, "The days are long but the years are short." And you won't get this day back again.
Make the most of the time you DO have instead of puzzling over and worrying about an unknown future.
God knows the end of the story and I continually leave that in His hands instead of clutching the small piece I can see in my own hands. You can do that too. Free yourself from worrying about how it will all work out and focus instead on making the most of today. This hour, this minute, this moment. Because really it's all you've got. Let it be emblazoned on your heart.
I'm the mom I want to be when I know I only have one more night. We play longer at bathtime, letting the squeals get even more high pitched with every splash, we cuddle longer before bed, we teach him as many words as we can think of to help him develop, we throw all of our best parenting at this last night. I'm more patient, more loving, more aware that these sweet moments are coming to an end. Until the next child, and the cycle of attachment and goodbyes will start again. But the love will never go away for this sweet one.