So, I've met her. Our kids' mom, that is. And by meet her I mean I have handed a son, daughter or diaper bag directly to her on several different occasions with a smile on my face, then quickly exited the CPS office so they can have their visit.
She doesn't acknowledge me. She's busy happily greeting her kids.
I don't acknowledge her. I'm busy being an awkward, flustered, shy foster mom who doesn't know what to say.
"Hi, I'm Anna." That would be a good start, wouldn't it?
But, let's back up. You may be wondering, "what happened to parent visits being like covert drug deals but with babies, where you met a social worker in a loading zone to hand off the kids and you didn't even go in the building?" Well, first of all, I was scared before and I decided to get over it. I also felt bad watching the social worker or assistant lug two kids and a diaper bag in through the back door of the CPS building all by herself while my perfectly good arms hung by my sides. I also decided that if I was in their mom's position, I would be very grateful to see the face of the person caring for my kids.
So, one day I offered to help take the kids all the way inside and the nice assistant lady said on the way in that their mom wasn't there yet. Except she was. She arrived from the front while we came in the back and suddenly I found myself handing Brother straight into her arms. Ack! And so it began. This strange exchange each week between two women, both with the title of mama, both in love with the same babies, neither knowing how to interact with the other.
Remember when Brother used to get really upset at the end of visits? He doesn't anymore. He often hollers "yaaaay" when we pull into the CPS parking lot and at one visit he was walking in on his own, saw his mama and raaaan to her with a big, goofy grin. When it's time to leave, he is subdued and quiet, but not upset.
Apparently all the inner turmoil got transferred to me. After I hand the kids over to their mom and skidaddle my foster booty out of their way, I go back to my car which is parked backwards and illegally in the loading zone behind the building. And I sit for a minute. Sometimes I cry a little. I take deep breaths and try to calm down my flabbergasted soul.
Part of me spins through things I could have said to her in the moment to introduce myself, to set her at ease, to be warm and friendly. Hindsight is 20/20. And yet I never say any of those things the next time.
Part of me recognizes that this is not natural and wishes it didn't have to be this way. She's the woman who birthed these kids and she gets to see them for one hour a week, whereas I'm a woman who was randomly selected to care for them for the other 167 hours. This shouldn't be the way it goes. And yet...
Part of me is jealous. Honestly, seeing her, seeing Brother run to her, hearing that the visit went well...they're all reminders that the kids might leave us and go back to her for good, which my head knows is the goal, but my heart struggles with.
Part of me just marvels that we have found ourselves in this crazy situation. Frankly, it's just really weird sometimes. A lot to take in. But we're rollin' with the punches as best we can.