I Don’t Have Kids – But I’m NOT a First Time Mom!

One of my biggest pet peeves throughout this pregnancy has been when people refer to me as a “first-time mom.” I don’t feel like mom labels should be so cookie cutter. I was a foster mother for many years (pre-marriage) and have had dozens of kids through my home over the years. While I haven’t physically birthed a child (yet), I’ve already got my “mom card”.  Some may disagree, but those people have clearly never been foster parents. That would be like an orange telling a tomato it isn’t a fruit!

meringue-888338_640

I saw a posting on a foster parent support page the other day in which the woman was inquiring if she is still a mom even though she is just a foster mom. It really got my blood boiling!

It’s bad enough that there is mom shaming for having a non-natural childbirth or for not breastfeeding or even for not cloth diapering, but now there is mom shaming towards foster parents who selflessly raise children who aren’t biologically theirs at a time when the birth family is unable to do so? So much mom shaming, in fact, that this woman felt it was necessary to ask other foster parents if she was a mom?  Are you kidding me?

No, I haven’t earned my “mom stripes” from pregnancy (yet), or experienced the blessing of childbirth (yet), or finally seen my newborn baby for the first time after hours of labor and burst into tears from exhaustion and pure joy (yet), and I haven’t nursed a baby (yet), but I have had a lot of mom moments!

I have brought a premature baby home from the hospital, I have had sleepless nights worrying that the baby isn’t breathing, I have had to wake up every 2 hours to wake a baby and feed her (doctors’ orders), I have cried crocodile tears when I watched my babies get shots (usually I cried more than they did), I have had trouble dropping them off at daycare when they are clinging to my leg and crying, I have read the same book 5 times in a row because that’s what they wanted, I have given hundreds of breathing treatments, I have changed thousands of diapers, I have wiped countless noses, I have been called “mom,” I have kissed lots of boo boo’s, I have had three under the age of 3, I have potty trained many children, I am a swaddle pro, I have age appropriate toys (and clothes) available for various ages, I have done more research on SIDS/carseat safety than I care to admit, and I still cringe every time I hear the theme songs to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Bubble Guppies, and Yo Gabba Gabba!

Most importantly, I have experienced the unconditional love that a parent has for their child; and with that, I have experienced a truly broken heart. No matter how happy the homecoming is for that child when they are returned to their biological parents after jumping through so many hoops and turning their lives upside down to get the child back, the foster parents are always left with holes in their hearts.

I used to always joke that our job, as foster parents, was to “love the children while we have them and then let them go when the time comes.” But that implies that you stop loving the child when they leave your home and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I have been blessed by the biological families of a handful of my old kids to remain in contact with them, but there are so many others that I constantly worry about. I fear that the “mom worry” will never go away, especially when it comes to the babies who the system failed. It breaks my heart all over again to think about what that child might be going through right now.

So yes, this is my first pregnancy but I am definitely not a first-time mom!

 

*This same logic can also be applied to Step Parents*

 

, , , , , , ,

18 Responses to I Don’t Have Kids – But I’m NOT a First Time Mom!

  1. Christy V. February 12, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    I so agree and I so love this post!

  2. Courtney Schmidt February 12, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    From one foster mom to another, thank you for this post! I haven’t ever been pregnant or had a bio baby, but we fostered and adopted a sibling set of 3, the youngest was 10 days old when we got her. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, still do! But I’m still a mom all the same!!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 12, 2016 at 9:02 am #

      Thank you, Courtney! I must say, though, I should be thanking you for adopting 3 precious kiddos from the foster care system–that is so wonderful! You definitely earned that “mom card!”

  3. GT February 12, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    Excellent article! No, you are definitely not a first time mom. Thank you for fostering.

    PS “Crocodile tears” means fake crying, fake tears. I’m sure you were genuinely crying when your babies got shots.

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 12, 2016 at 9:03 am #

      Thank you, GT!
      PS You are absolutely correct–oversight on my part! Those tears were definitely real!

  4. Jacquelyn @ The Lowcountry Mama February 12, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    Wow I knew about you being a foster mom but never really had an idea about what that entailed until reading this. I wish I could do it.. but not sure if I could handle it emotionally. You’re such a strong woman and I know you’re going to be such an amazing mama to your baby girl!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 12, 2016 at 9:06 am #

      Thank you, Jacquelyn! I’m sure you could handle being a foster parent–they need people with big hearts who have lots of love to share and that definitely describes you!

  5. Heather Askew February 12, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you for using your beautiful words to raise awareness on this. Loved reading this and thinking of so many mamas who I love and respect.

  6. Tracy Walton
    Tracy Walton February 12, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    I just wrote a post on my respect for step parents and I kept thinking through your whole post that the only parents who humble me more than step parents are foster parents! I can’t imagine anyone finding a reason to denigrate anyone who voluntarily takes on, not only the caregiving duties required by children, but to do so knowing the goal is for the child to eventually go back to its biological family. There are really people who do that?!

    Regarding the list of experiences that earn one a “mom card”, not every mom who has given birth can check all of these off either. And sadly, as you know acutely, there are many women who have given birth to children who don’t go on to earn their mom card.

    Also, this was just beautifully written. 🙂

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 12, 2016 at 10:31 am #

      Thank you, Tracy! As I was writing the post, I kept thinking how a lot of what I was saying could be applied to step parents, but since I have never been in those shoes I couldn’t speak on that topic, but did want to draw the connection! You are absolutely correct in your statement about the “mom card,” I really feel it is something that is earned (through many different ways) not handed out upon the birth of your child.

  7. Patty
    Patty February 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    Such a great post. So true and bravo! I am a step mom and haven’t birthed kids but I’ve been mom for 15 years and I for sure feel I have the mom cape and card just like others mom. It breaks my heart when other moms say “yeah, but it’s different when you birth them. They are more your own.” Ugh! Great post and yay!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 12, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      Thank you, Patty! You are exactly right–you have certainly earned that mom cape and card! It annoys me so much when people make comments like that and there really isn’t a good way to to prove your point because it’s like arguing with a brick wall. I just have to walk away from the situation (and make a mental note to remember their rude comment haha).

  8. Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections February 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Wow, this is such a great post! I love that you foster! That’s something I am considering doing now that I have my own little one and realize just how much I love kids and want other kids to have a good home. I think the biggest take away is that people shouldn’t ever describe someone as a first time mom unless they KNOW for a fact that they are one. I know some people have raised step children or had siblings so far apart in age that it was like they raised them too. There are many different ways people raise kids that are not just their own.

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

      Thank you, Melissa! You should definitely consider fostering if it’s something that you feel a calling for–there is always a need for good foster homes! And you are so right–it’s never safe to assume that anyone is a “first-time mom” because so often, like you said, there is a unique situation in their life that already helped them earn their “mom card!”

  9. Kelli {A Deeper Joy} February 18, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    Alana, this is beautiful! I know I’m not very far into the process and have just fostered one child at this point, but I feel this already. Someone just told me, “I can’t wait to hear when you actually become parents,” inferring that she wants me to get pregnant. It hurt, but I’m trying to have grace for those people. You have been an amazing mom. You are such a blessing and really have a heart that I admire!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston February 18, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

      Thank you so much Kelli! Comments like that are so frustrating, but you handled it the right way–with grace! It’s sometimes hard for outsiders to understand the foster care system and just how much you love each and every child. I’m so excited to follow along on your journey!

Leave a Reply