Mother’s Day is on Sunday in Australia, what images or memories does it bring to your mind? Unfortunately, for me, Mother’s Day is summed up in a sentence from one of my son’s a couple of Mother’s Day ago, when asked his favourite thing we did on the day, he answer ‘played football with Dad’. Somehow it is like New Year’s Eve, an anti-climax, but maybe that’s just me!
Thinking about what Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day and other special days) will look like as a fostering family, aren’t something you think about during your training. But they are really different as a foster mum. As a foster mum, the lead up to the day is considering the other mum’s and grand mums in your children’s lives - thinking about how you sensitively help your child make a card and gift, wondering how much to spend on a present and what present is appropriate that won’t offend or remind a mum she isn’t with her child on Mother’s Day, then what words do you put in the card, and at the same time being sensitive to your child’s trauma including whether they even want to acknowledge Mother’s Day or not. Then the actual day may be a trauma trigger for your child, or it may include visiting (not this year of course!) or phoning birth mums or grand mums. For kinship carers this can be even harder, with a grandparent or other relative looking after a child, leading to fragmented extended family relationships, and yet allowing/encouraging the child in their home to celebrate Mother’s Day.
This is all part of the foster/kinship care journey. Part of the journey I certainly didn’t think about in the training! It isn’t a part that comes up everyday, but on these significant days, we want to do it well, we want our children to know their identity, their family, and that they are loved. Loved by our family, accepted by our family, part of two families, and part of a community that loves them too.
We also want it to be a day where we do pray and care for birth mums and grand mums, who are separated from their little ones, this was never their plan and it must be incredibly hard.
We encourage you to spend time praying and considering how to do this well, talk to other carers about what has and hasn’t worked for them.
And of course, take care of yourself too, managing little people’s emotions, supporting your biological children, celebrating with your own mum and mother-in-law, and managing your own expectations on the day can be draining. I heard of one foster mum who gave herself her own Mother’s Day on the Monday after Mother’s Day, a day all to herself! Doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me!
To finish with some of our carers shared some fun ‘foster mum’ stories, we hope you enjoy them and share some too!
“I will never forget the day I turned up at school drop off with a newborn, all the sideway glances I got, as I wasn’t pregnant the day before, and then had to explain our new situation.”
“We were at a wedding once and my husband carried on a whole conversation about the ‘strong genetics’ that lead to our youngest foster son looking just like him.”
“Many times, our vivacious, happy little girl would join other birthday parties at the park and eat cake, open the presents and take off with the loot bags! I was mortified at the time, but in hindsight totally hilarious. Funniest home videos would have loved to catch the wild, panicked faces of the parents of the actual party!”
“Strangers have said to me, “Oh she has your hair” or “Gee he MUST look like his Dad.””
What stories do you have?
What has worked for Mother’s Day for your family?