“That’s NOT My Mom.”

This past Sunday, TD told me her eye was hurting.  She tends to have sensitive eyes that have a reaction to makeup a few times a year.  Sometimes, she will get a small bump on her eyelid that causes pain.  It is not a big deal at all, but we go to the doctor to have it looked at – especially when it hurts her badly.

Every time she goes to the doctor, they weigh her, ask what her allergies are, if she has had surgery, etc….  Just like they do for any other kid.  The difference with us is that we have not always been together.  The nurse asks me questions, obviously assuming I gave birth to her, and TD is often helping answer the questions.  I often see a glimmer of confusion on the nurse’s face – wondering why I am referring back to my daughter for information I should know as a mom.  In those moments, and only in those moments, I will inform the nurse I am her foster mother.  It helps make it less awkward for both TD and the nurse.

After speaking with the nurse, we were ushered to a room and waited a little bit for her doctor to arrive.  Upon entering the room, he sat down across from TD and crossed his legs.  He was wearing khaki pants, brown shoes – and maroon socks…  I remember thinking ….hmmmmm…..what an odd choice to wear maroon socks.

He asked what brought her in to the office and upon hearing her answer – if this has happened before.  She informed him that her eye reactions have been going on for about five years off and on.  The doctor looked at me and said, “And she’s never seen an eye doctor for this?”  Once again, I had to explain that I am her foster parent and the flare ups she used to have did not happen while in my care.  At this statement, I could see understanding flood his mind and relief that I had not neglected any needs she might have.

I don’t like to call myself her “foster mom” at all and was marinating in my disdain to have to use that phrase for the third time that day as he continued to examine her eyes.  I feel it puts a different light on the relationship than what we exemplify in our home.  It feels formal.  It lacks the sound of meaningful relationship.

The doctor asked TD to move her eyes from side to side.  As he shined the light in her eyes, he then instructed her to look at “Mom”.

Then it happened.

She said very bluntly, “That is NOT my Mom.”

Ouch.

Now, if there is anyone who knows I should not be hurt by this statement – it is me.  I understand with my brain that she will never look at me as a mom of any sort to her – other than the title of foster mom.  She does not address us as Dad and Mom and it has taken several reminders to teach her that she needs to address us as Dad and Mom when directing the kids.  Such as, “Go ask Mom about that.”  She used to say, “Go ask Dana about that” – which is confusing for the little kids.

Anyways, back to subject matter.

I heard the words and felt the sting enter and remain.  Immediately my mind rushed into thoughts, such as: “You could have at least played along” OR “You know what he MEANS, you didn’t have to say that.”

The truth is she will never know how much it hurts to love her so much and not be even given a title such as “Momma Dana” or SOMETHING (as corny as Momma Dana sounds).  Or at least decline using the words, “That’s NOT my Mom.” .

I know it is crazy for me to expect more than where it is now.  Her perspective is what REALLY matters at this point in her journey.  She lost her birth Mom and I can totally understand that no one can come near the place of her birth Mom.  I mean, I can understand that with my mind.  Sometimes, my emotions play tricks on me and make me wish I could be called her Mom – because I love her that much.  But, I am completely aware that she has a REAL Mom.  She has someone with whom she is bonded by nature and significant relationship.  She has a family line that she will be forever drawn to.  AND WE DON’T WANT TO TAKE THAT AWAY.  It is so precious to have family and we always want to support and honor the love she has for her birth family.

I just had to suck it up and remind myself, “Well…you are her foster mom.  It is just a fact.  Now, move on and cheer up.”

But, I still find myself thinking about it…

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6 Responses to “That’s NOT My Mom.”

  1. Jesica Huber says:

    Maybe down the road as she gets older things might change a bit. Hugs as always.

    Jesica

  2. Jocelyn says:

    I don’t know TD or what her intent was with that comment. I do think that there can be a different perspective on it. Even though you are not mom to her, when you say to others you are her foster mom it is kind of like saying, “I’m not her mom, I’m her foster mom.” (And I know that is not terminology you like so at that moment she was more painfully aware of it. She rarely hears it but because of the situation you had to say it three times.) Perhaps at that moment she was agitated that you were mistaken for mom again and she made her statement. Maybe in these situations you could say, “She is not my birth daughter.” You do not have to use the word foster or guardian and it is implied that she is your daughter of some sort (whether or not she wants you to be mom!). Also, when talking to the kids maybe you could give her the option to say “your mom” instead of “mom”. (as in “Go give this to your mom.”) Maybe sometimes she feels like you want her to call her mom and is rebelling against that a little.
    I don’t really know what her intent was but I just wanted to share a little bit of a different perspective on this. I hope you don’t take it the wrong way! You are doing a great job Dana.

  3. Thanks ladies. Great suggestions, Jocelyn. Yes, those are much better ways to approach the situation.

  4. AC says:

    This really makes me think…I have a step-mom and a step-dad and I often wonder if they feel the way that you have. I often have made that statement thats not my mom or that is not my dad. I usually say its my mom’s husband or dad’s wife.

    Not sure this will reassure but with my step-moms continued support and not pushing anything- my dad and her have been married for 10 yrs. This year I finally sent her a mothers day card and have allowed her to be called my mom like when we were introduced at my dad’s church. I realize today that I will be her only child and she has a lot of love for me and would never want to take my mom’s place. I finally this year have accepted her as my “second mom”…..

    In all these years 10 to be exact I never considered that by saying she is not my mom that it would have hurt her. I said it because I felt like I was betraying my mom if I gave someone else her title. I wouldn’t even say anything with the word mom in it, It was my dad’s wife. So know it probably is not meant to hurt you- I usually said it in trying to be loyal to my mom and not understanding that I could have 2 mom’s without giving up one or the other. I hope this helps and someday I am sure to TD you will be “Mom” keep on loving and supporting like I know you do!!! She will come around in her time….

    You’re an awesome foster mom!! Keep up the great work!!

  5. ritacline says:

    I learn so much from your blog Dana….our road is just beginning…..you are doing a wonderful job. We will continue reading and learning….thank you for sharing.

  6. Wow, what wonderful responses you all have sent me. I often don’t blog about TD because I always want to be careful that SHE has the opportunity to show off all the things that make her great. I never want to embarrass her or make her feel any certain way. I want her to have the fair opportunity to be known from her perspective and initiative.

    I don’t know why, but this particular subject was burning in my mind so much that I just HAD to write about it.

    In some ways, I feel your responses have been an answer to prayer. Thank you Rita and Jesica for your encouragement to me. Jocelyn, thank you for your constructive ideas in how to eliminate the conflict from the picture. I am already looking for ways to incorporate your ideas into our lives.

    And Acacia…..I almost cried when I read your comment. Your insight into TD’s response was right on. I think it is a loyalty toward her mom that drives her responses. And I totally want to honor that loyalty and never want to take that from her at all. She probably doesn’t mean to hurt me at all. Thank you for your insight and I am pretty sure your step-mom had the best Mother’s Day ever to be called a second mom. I know that if I ever get called that by TD, she will probably never get in trouble for anything ever again as she would have me wrapped around her finger – JUST KIDDING.

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