For so many years, I have been saying that I am a boy mom. I've uttered the phrase, "We have 5 sons" more times than I can shake a stick at. I am extremely proud of our boys and I am not afraid to say so...all the time...to ad-nausea. Those who've known me for 5 minutes will testify to that.
I am a boy mom. Did I mention that? I've parented boys for 18 years and frankly, I LOVE it. I *think* I've actually got a handle on it too. I love our boys and flat-out own the fact that I'm a Boy Mom, because it makes me so extremely happy.
On September 30th, however, the court set a tide in motion that redefines my title. I am now a soon-to-be adoptive mom to our DAUGHTER! A Girl! A Beautiful, Strong, Amazing Young Woman who has Brian's skin-tone and toes and my ears and quirky personality. She's strong and takes charge. She calls the shots and the boys tow the line. She also happens to love Barbies, Pink and Purple, Cheer-leading and painted fingernails. In that way she is nothing like me...at all. She's a Real Girl and she's ours...our daughter. We love her very much.
I am a Girl Mom. That's new.
I am a homeschooling mom. I started this path WAY back in the 90's when Kazz was in 2nd grade, in Kentucky. His tutor, in Ohio, thought it would be a GREAT idea. After doing some research, Brian and I took her advice and jumped in full force...ignoring all the eye rolls and reactions from our friends and family. I've never been much of a social conformist so it didn't bother me that NOBODY in our town homeschooled. We just did it. That's all she wrote.
However, as of 8 weeks ago, I became a homeschooling mom to only 1 child. The rest of the kids are either graduated or in a Charter School for 7 1/2 hours a day. Yes, I'm allowing a school system to raise my children for more of their waking hours that I do at this point. Yes. I know. Shocked me too.
I am a Foster Parent, and have been for quite a few years. I have also spent a short stint as a foster parent mentor. I have had kids roaming around the house, day and night for a long, long time. I just can't get enough, I suppose. The sound of arguing, whining, pattering feet, laughter, walls being pounded on, dishes hitting the floor, coughing, tattling, doors opening and closing....all of those things make our house come alive and make me quite content.
However, even though we do still have our foster parenting license, we're toying with the idea of being "done" with fostering. That's a hard one. This last case did us all in, I do believe. I got especially, emotionally attached to the family and had a hard time watching the chips fall. Because of this, we currently have our license on hold until our foster daughter is adopted and our eldest son is married on February 5th.
I'm a college graduate...sort of. I have an Associate of Arts degree that took me 17 years to get! I've attended Maysville Community College, Shawnee State University, Baker College, and Macomb Community College. I've taken enough classes to be well on my way to a Bachelors Degree, but not the "right" classes to earn a title. So, I've got that dog-gone Associates Degree and I'M PROUD OF THAT THING! lol
I did try to go back to school last year. I am...really...for real...one of these days...I AM going to be a counselor for families. I'm going to help parents and children get strong enough to stay united if they can...and/or...I'm going to help foster parents deal with their emotions before/during/after children come into their home, leave their home and/or are adopted. It's all hard. It's not pretty.
Where was I? Oh yes, I tried to go back to college last year...but...Brian and I were in the parking lot of our 4 year university getting ready to hop out of our vehicle and head to the first day of classes when we got a cell phone call. We were asked to take in a 2 year old boy as an emergency placement. Brian and I promptly went home and waited for his arrival. We dropped the classes and parented him for a week. He went to another home with his siblings and we were back to waiting for another call for more kids...which we got...in spades...but that's another story for another day.
So, I've said all that to say that I'm not quite sure who I am anymore. I am still, kind-of, a homeschooling mother. I'm a foster parent, but not really. I'm a boy mom, but really I'm just a mom now. I'm a college graduate, sort-of.
Who am I...Now? How do I define myself today?
I'm down to 1 homeschooling child who can read and do his work alone for the most part, so that's not "me." I'm not a practicing foster parent anymore, so that's out. I'm not in school and I "only" have an Associate Degree, so that's just sad. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that I'm no longer an Evangelical Protestant. Nope. I'll soon be a Roman Catholic. And, I can't even say I'm Catholic because I haven't learned all the teachings or been accepted yet! *sigh*
Who am I? I've asked myself that question over and over these past few weeks.
Am I mom? Yes. I'm a mom but that isn't "who" I am. It dawned on me that even without the children I still "am"...and "who" is that?!
Am I a Support Group Founder? Sure, but without my groups and my friends...I still am.
Am I a foster parent? No, that's not "who" I am, it's what I do. When that's finished, I will still be.
Am I a Protestant? No. I'm without that...and I am still me.
Am I a Catholic? Sort of, but even without that, I am still me...and Who Is That?
I know that I am the same person as when I was conceived. I feel like me. I feel like a strong me, but most of my definitions are floating away and the new definitions are vague. So, who shall I say that I am? Who am I without all of these things impressed upon my life? I am surely not to be simmered down to 'what I once was?!' Am I?
I suppose the answer lies in my worth when all is stripped away. So, I start from the beginning to try to make sense of this non-sense. This is who I feel...No...This is who I Know That I Am.
I began from nothing.
I am nothing; yet I receive blessings.
I am nothing; yet I am the taker of gifts.
All that defines me on earth are but the blessings God has given.
My life is the first of those.
Without Him, I am not.
He defined me.
I am enough.
Shelly Bannister-Mabe 2010