Letter To My Kids (Tatum)

Two years today, my love. Two years ago today, we looked into your eyes for the very first time. You came into our home with a small diaper bag, sparkly purple high top tennis shoes, a purple shirt that said, “Hugs & Pugs” and a new case worker. Someone you had never met put you in your car seat and drove you to our home in Texas. I wonder if she explained what was happening? I wonder if you understood? Then that stranger unbuckled you in front of a house you’d never seen and carried you and your bag through the front door. You were greeted by an earnest looking couple, two excited boys, a large dog, and a foster care case worker – all complete strangers to you. You stood in the entryway for a minute, standing close to the stranger you’d met thirty minutes before, but out of everyone in the room, she was the person you’d known the longest.

I look back at those photos, and in so many ways you seem like a completely different child, but in many ways you seem the exact same. You still study people, waiting to see if they can be trusted, waiting to see who they are. You still warm up to kids and women faster than men. You still love bananas, peanut butter, and sparkles. You still melt my heart with those insanely squishy cheeks and those deep pools of brown eyes. But oh, my darling. Two years of having consistent care and safety have given you the freedom to show us your personality. And what a personality it is. You, my girl, are a firecracker. A beautiful, breathtaking, feisty firecracker. Your legs have grown longer and your spirit has grown brighter. And that smile. Oh, how I love that smile.

You keep us on our toes, darling (remember the time you colored an entire “landscape” on your bedroom wall during nap time, or the time you got that bead stuck up your nose while I was driving?), and you keep us laughing (“Dat was just a joke, Mommy!”). You bring so much light, so much joy, and so much sweetness into our family.

I know that two years ago was not an easy day for you. You were unsure, scared, and couldn’t possibly have understood all that was going on. I know that two years ago wasn’t easy for us. We were unsure, nervous, and couldn’t possibly have understood the depths of journeying we would do with you. But I can tell you that God had been preparing my heart to be your Mama from the moment you were born. Honestly, He had been preparing me before your birth. And I can tell you that my heart belonged to you from the moment I saw you.

We celebrate today, not because the reasons for your placement in foster care are worthy of celebrating. We celebrate today because it’s the day our stories intertwined. It’s the day God wove together our lives and our family, it’s the day I got attached to my daughter, and it’s the day your Mommy got to hold you in her arms.

I’m yours, my Tater Tot. Forever and always, I’m your Mommy.

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The Wounded Bird

The baby bird was meant to fly, to stretch her wings far and soar. Her little birdie heart thumped a rhythm, steady and true. A rhythm to dance with the wind, to twirl with the clouds, to spin with the trees. Nobody taught her to fly. She just jumped from the nest one day, spread her wings, and…fell. But for a second she danced with the wind, so despite her injuries, she kept trying. The bird taught herself how to fly and flew with unmeasured joy.

Until they told her she was flying too high. Or too low. Or too fast. Or too slow. She did it all wrong, couldn’t she see how differently she flew from everyone else? So she flew lower. Then higher. Then slower. Then faster. She studied the other birds, imitating their flight. She marveled at the beauty of other birds – all their colors, wing spans, soft feathers! All of a sudden, she wondered if she had always been so plain. She didn’t dip and flip in the sky like the other birds, she flew strong and fast, pausing to dace with the clouds and the trees. She wasn’t flying right. Not like all the other birds.

The tiny bird stayed in her nest, her tiny heart breaking. Her wings had mended from all those earnest attempts at learning to fly, but hearts are harder to mend than wings, and hers felt cracked. After many days, her tears stopped rolling, and she could hear the beat of her heart again. It was faint, but the longer she listened the stronger it got. Steady and true. Strong, loving, fierce.

She sat in silence for a while, not flying and not crying, just listening. What a rhythm God had given her, she thought. Not a rhythm that was wrong, misfitting, or unlovely. No, her rhythm was none of those things. Her rhythm was unique and a little quirky, but it was beautifully melodic. Steady. Fragile. True. After many days of listening, her wings started itching to move, to dance to the beat. With deep breaths and unsteady legs, she rose from the nest. Her heartbeat strumming loudly in her ears, she flew. Tentatively at first, hoping nobody saw her. But then stronger, focusing on the beats of her heart, she flew stronger. Faster. Wilder. She danced with the wind, twirled with the clouds, spun with the trees. Joy and contentedness bubbled up in her chest, and she sang a song of freedom to her Creator. It was for her Creator that she flew, that she sang, that she danced, that she was.

She was meant to fly. To stretch her wings and soar. Her heart thumped a rhythm,  and it was to that rhythm that she flew. Steady and true, little bird. Steady and true.