To the woman who thinks she’s “just a foster mom”

It was a particularly busy work day. Still, I took the morning off. I quietly removed from my calendar a meeting I didn’t want to miss, and a training I had looked forward to for weeks. I drove across town, juggled the baby and all of his things, and signed in at the doctor’s office.

The young woman behind the desk handed me a clipboard with a novella’s worth of documents attached.

“I need you to fill out this paperwork, Mom.”

I took the clipboard and, shifting the baby carrier from one tired arm to the other, replied. “Oh, I’m just the foster mom.”

She smiled and, with a gentleness I didn’t expect at 7:50 in the morning, advised:

“Don’t sell yourself short.”

At the time, I didn’t put much thought into her comment. There was too much to do—complete the paperwork, calm the baby, day care drop off, work, day care pick up, dinner.

It wasn’t until later that night.

I was casually scrolling through Facebook. My feed was filled with proud moms gushing about their children’s good grades, kindness, and funny quirks. There were pictures of kids holding awards and blowing out birthday candles.

But, one of those statuses stood out from the rest. It was another update from another proud mom. But, it started like this:

“I know I’m just a foster mom, but I’m so proud of…”

I stared at those words:

Just a foster mom?

Immediately, I jumped to her defense. “You’re not JUST a foster mom,” I typed. “You’re a MOM.”

And suddenly, the words from earlier that morning hit me like a ton of bricks:

“Don’t sell yourself short.”

Darn it.

Who am I to judge this woman’s need to qualify her motherhood?

I’m guilty of this, too. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?!)

But, no longer. “Just a foster mom” is now a banished phrase.

Because, every foster parent who has ever seen themselves as less than, this one’s for you:

You’re not just a foster mom.

You’re a mother who has voluntarily chosen to exchange sleep for the cries of a baby suffering from painful withdrawals.

You’re someone who puts food on the table, reads stories, attends practices, and washes heaps of laundry.

You tuck tired children into bed, scare away monsters, kiss foreheads, fetch water in the middle of the night, and share your bed after nightmares.

You get up at the crack of dawn to prepare lunches, stuff backpacks, pick out clothes, and shuttle fragile lives to school.

You sacrifice your time day in and day out. You take off work to make sure no doctor’s appointment, therapy session, or visitation is missed. You plan your day around the lives of children who used to be strangers.

You dry tears, kiss boo-boos, change diapers, make bottles, pick up prescriptions, help with homework, draw baths, comb hair, give advice, and fight hard for every single child in your home.

You’re a mom who is proud of your children—biological, foster, or otherwise. And, you should be.

Often, their accomplishments are a direct reflection of your hard work and sacrifice.

You can’t share pictures of their first day at school. There are no Instagram videos of your trip to the zoo. All of the family photos you post on Facebook feel incomplete.

But you have a right to be proud.

You’re a mom.

Don’t ever sell yourself short.

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