I should be filled with joy about the last piece of news.
Instead, I actually broke down in tears... for a good 20 minutes. Maybe it is what I needed after a long week. But I realized that my crying had a bigger meaning.
First, these are the most adorable children ever, Lucy* and Lauren* -six and seven years old, respectively, have the biggest brown eyes and the most charming, toothless little smiles. "UP, MISS!" is what Lucy would say whenever she saw me. I actually ripped one of my blazers appeasing her need to fly the skies. She loved being swung around and doted upon. Such energy, always climbing and running around. "I need a gum, Miss. I want a candy." AH! how cute! Lauren was more calm, very well-mannered, and a true modern-day princess. I say that because she is beautiful and smart, charming, loving, and motivated. Both girls captured my heart. I thought they would be with us for a long, long time.
However, a family has decided to foster them. A family who I (and others) happen to think is doing it for the monthly stipend and who cannot possibly take care of these high-energy children. It all happened so quickly and the children don't want to go. They want to stay, with us, in the group home. Now, that friends, is meaningful. Lauren said, "it's not like they are... bad, but I want to stay with you, miss."
BAHHHH!!! ME TOO!!! I want you to stay forever and wear adorable Hello Kitty dresses, and eat gum and candies all day long, and play with your little purple legos! I want to tickle you when you're sad and make you giggle so I can see your toothless grin!
But, alas, it came to the point where I had to let go. I hugged Lucy and told her I love you and she said so back. Her mouth was full of dinner and I gave her a kiss on the right cheek. She pointed to her left and I gave her one there. She was delighted because I was wearing red lipstick. She asked for one on her forhead, too, and I obliged. Next was Lauren's turn. She was upset, sitting at the dinner table. I picked her up and brought her aside and immediately started tearing up. I sat her down and looked into her eyes and asked her to be a good girl, to study hard, and if she ever needed anything she could always call. She asked, "Miss Marissa, why are you crying?" and I told her it is because I am happy for her and I loved her. She said I love you too and I gave her a red lipstick kiss on both cheeks.
I left and pretty much started crying all over again. Who in their right mind would ever allow these children to be taken from them? Why could their parents not give up drugs, or attend parenting classes, or leave their abusive boyfriend/girlfriend for the sake of these precious munchkins? How on earth could you neglect children so innocent and joyful and make a 7 year-old take care of a 6 year-old while you party or pass out or do a drug deal or whatever? It is so weird loving someone else's children more than they do. It is so strange to raise someone else's children and to be able to provide for their every emotional need and to hug and cuddle them all day long. Maybe I am just too compassionate, too focused on humanity.... but why aren't people's parents like that?
Then I remembered that I didn't really have a dad growing up, nor do I have one now. I realized that my dad did the same thing to me. Neglected my emotional needs, never went to a softball game, never went to a band performance, never came to see me cheer at a game, never told me he was proud of me getting straight A's or even graduating with a 4.0 from my master's program.
Why would someone pass up those opportunities? To show their child love, affection, to cuddle them, to be proud of them, to support them.... I guess I don't really know why my dad didn't do those things- does he regret that he didn't participate? Does he not care? Did he think it didn't matter?
Because it did.
All of those missed opportunities... can truly change how a person grows.
I am glad that I at least had one supportive parent. One incredibly dedicated, loving, encouraging parent who's own heart and path I have decided to follow. To spread love and compassion. To care, maybe a little too much, for those who get the short end of the stick. To see the beauty in others and the good that can come from simple conversations and hugs.
So tonight, I let a little piece of my heart go with Lucy and Lauren because at least I know that I influenced them for a while, that they know they are loved, and that someone really does care.
*Names changed for confidentiality